I am Durwood

 

In Loving Memory Andrew Ferrell 1974-2011

I had a bit of an existential crisis this past week.  My very foundation was shook with the death of a friend, Andrew Ferrell.  Drew, one of my biggest cheerleaders (without the skirt), was diagnosed with testicular germ cell cancer about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  He lost his battle.

Or did he?  As Lance Armstrong said about Steve Jobs recently, “Steve, like every football coach who ever lived, didn’t lose his battle, he just ran out of time.”

We all run out of time at one point or another.  That is life.

And, death.

But, can we defy the fates?  I admit I have been trying.  I guess I watched too many Bewitched episodes growing up.  I always wanted to be Samantha, a beautiful immortal witch that could clean her house, jet off to Paris and walk thru doors with a twitch of her nose.  Who would want to be Darrin, or Durwood as his mother in-law called him, a mere measly mortal who has to use the door knob to get thru doors?

I came face to face with my own mortality this week with Drew’s death and I realized that I am scared shitless.  I am desperately trying to control my circumstances and somehow trick the fates.  I guzzle 32 ounces of green juice daily, work out at the gym, partake in dry rubs and daikon leaf baths, eat whole grains and huge organic salads and take my Omega 3’s and Vitamin D, so my cancer will not come back.  It is a full time job and it is exhausting!

And to top it off, I am worried that I am so busy juicing, I am forgetting to live life fully.    

Just the other night Casey’s band, “Mother Function” performed at a huge “Not Quinceanera Party”.  It was a meeting of Mexican Catholics and Irish Catholics. So you can imagine Guinness and Tequila flowing generously.  There was a group of 40 something year olds in the kitchen doing tequila shots.  Typically, I would be the first one to partake.  Not this time.  There are studies that show a connection between alcohol and breast cancer. 

Mother Function Rocking Out

Why do I do this day after day?  Why do I drink gallons of green stuff, spend exorbitant amounts of mula on supplements and believe alcohol is Satan? 

So I don’t die.  Fear of death does this to a person.

A problem arises however when the fear of death keeps you from living.  Like Adi Da Samraj says in his book, “Easy Death”, “You will live in either one of two ways. One is the usual round of obsession, fear, and seeking — in which the egoic self is the actor and the meaning of the drama. The other is the way of unlimited intelligence, love, freedom, spontaneity, and infinite happiness.”

Shakespeare understood this dilemma as well in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” 

The answer to this question is easy but walking the talk is a bit more difficult. 

But, no matter how difficult, I cannot live my life in fear.  The constant job of juicing, “because if I don’t I may die”, is a very heavy burden to live with.    

So, it is time for me to let go of fear, relinquish control and start living again.  Instead of juicing, because if I don’t I may die, I will juice because it makes me feel good.  Instead of running every day because it is proven to increase our life span, I will exercise because it is my happy drug.  I will do dry rubs because it makes my skin soft.  I will take my vitamin D because I am low in vitamin D.  I will take Daikon leaf baths because………well maybe this one can go.  And, I will limit tequila shots because it makes me feel like shit the next day.  Key word here, limit. 

Letting go, having some fun and enjoying life is just as important as my green goddess juice.  Actually, I am coming to the conclusion that it is more important.  As Shelby, Julia Roberts’ character in Steel Magnolias said, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

Drew died way too young but I am certain he had thirty minutes of wonderful. 

I will miss Drew’s inspirational words, like “You rawk Deanne” as I am getting ready for a second reconstruction surgery scheduled for this Tuesday.   But, I know in my heart he will be cheering me on from above!  Maybe even in a cute little skirt.  I bet you can wear anything you want up there.

As for my own mortality, I am working on accepting this fact.  Whether I like it or not, I am Durwood,  along with the other 7 billion people on this planet, a mere mortal, relying on my own wits, family and friends to help me get through doors.    

So, to be or not to be, I choose to “be” god dam it!

Me Choosing to Be

12 Responses to “I am Durwood”

  1. Raundi Says:

    Be!
    Yes!
    Yes!
    Yes!

  2. julia Says:

    thanks, deanne!! rawk on! i’m sure my little brother is cheering you on :-)

  3. Cyndi Says:

    The power of just “Being” is so under rated. {{HHUUGG}} Balance is the key . . .

  4. Kate Says:

    sorry for your loss but you are strong, you gotta be strong! because you are a fighter!

  5. Angela Says:

    I am crying tears – the way you bravely express your fear of dying, but more of not living life to its fullest is painfully beautiful. Thanks for sharing Deanne!

  6. James Rushdoony Says:

    Up until a few years ago, Drew and I worked together at Hyrian, I at the front desk. We had these funny back-and-forth things we say to each other and he’d always repeat some of little sayings he liked like “that’s correct” or “um hmm!”” But one of them in particular I’d say, and with a particular inflection, “Strong like man!” he always change to “Strong like bull!” with his own special Drew inflection. I’d always try to have him say it my way but eventually relented and realized how important it was for him to phrase it his particular way. Now, looking back, it seems that one little saying says so much about his strength and courage through it all. Missing him now, I can still hear him saying “Strong like bull!” over and over, with both tears and laughter. I wish you the best, and I’m sure Drew is cheering you on!

  7. Maria Galleher Says:

    Hi Deanne! I met you for the first time this weekend at my daughters “not a quinceanera” party. I was probably one of the 4o something year olds in the kitchen doing tequila shots. All I want to say is, that I loved meeting you. Your spirit came through so authentically. Thanks for encouraging your son to play beautiful (even if somewhat ” inappropriate” :) music. Thanks for hanging out with us, laughing and dancing. Thanks for showing me how to live life, tequila shots or not. A new friend and fan, Maria

  8. clare Says:

    Your best tribute to Drew is living life the way you do. As Ann Frank wrote from the confines of her attic, ” Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” You are beautiful; your family is beautiful and what you do is beautiful. My sister, Nikki, is also a Shelby devotee, whose life motto is, “I would rather die living than not live at all.” Having dodged Yakuza crossfire in Osaka and swum ashore from a sinking boat in a hippo-filled lake in Kenya, she lives by that motto. I am just reading “The Swerve” and in it, the author quotes Montaigne’s attitude to death, “I want death to find me planting my cabbages, but careless of death, and still less of my unfinished garden.” You, Deanne, are out there planting daisies and linking them into endless chains of friends and admirers who want to emulate your attitude to living not only a full life but a healthy one. We should all learn to be less complacent about our health and see each day as a gift, nurturing our bodies as you do.

  9. Pam Says:

    Deanne,

    I’m sorry for your loss. That’s a tough one.

    Conquering fear is a tough one in this battle. I visit fear for it is unreasonable to pretend it doesn’t exists but, I don’t live there.

    Cancer robs us of so much, don’t let it take your peace.

    Hope to see you at Monday park again soon.

    Take care.

    Pam

  10. Arien Says:

    Hi Deanne –

    Drew’s brother here.

    I’m really glad to see you shifting your mindset around these things – Drew and I had a number of conversations around living life in fear of something that may/may not happen vs. living life to enjoy it. I can safely say he was a firm believer in the latter – you never know what’s in store, live life to enjoy it.

    There are many articles about how your mental state can affect your body’s susceptibility to disease – emotions that weaken you mentally can weaken you physically as well. I suspect fear is one of those emotions. I further suspect that you increase your chances at a healthy life by dealing with stress, fear, anger, etc. in constructive ways. Examine it, understand where it comes from, deal with it. Taking the time and opportunity to enjoy life raises your outlook on things, mood, etc., which helps physically as well.

    With that comes moderation – Drew never suggested going out and getting wasted regularly, eating 10 lbs of bacon in a sitting, etc. But he would be the first in line to enjoy drinks with friends and family, and always took an opportunity to eat food he enjoyed in moderation.

    So in short – good for you. I think we can all take a lesson from your mindset shift.

  11. Lady A Says:

    Ahhh, thank you, thank you, thank you. Diagnosed July of this year at 42, at first I was full of vim and vigor in the fight. Now I’m living with the same green-juice-or-die fears and fell off the do-not-die wagon this Halloween weekend. Had a great time, then woke up terrified, like I’d be punished for my indiscretions. Just knowing I’m not alone in this is huge. But more than that, talking about fear-of-dying hampering the living-of-life helps me take a breath, release my shoulders and remember that it’s Living that counts. Truly living. And that that can be done along with green juice, but not along with quaking in your boots.

    Rock on, sweet daisy. And blessings to all who continue to love Drew.

  12. Pam Says:

    Deanne,

    It’s Quercetin and Bromelain is the other supplement I was telling you about. You can get it in a combo pill. It’s basically apple and pineapple. The enzymes help break down your food so your body uses it more efficiently. And I believe Quercetin is also an immune booster.

    My internist has me taking two (500mg Q and 375mg B each capsule) with each meal.

    If you are inclined to add anymore to your regime!!!

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