Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh the Places You'll Go

Dear Ellen,

Last fall, when you moved to the other side of the world, I really wanted to buy you a book by Dr. Seuss. I am fully aware of how weird that is. Ironically, today is Dr. Seuss' birthday but that has nothing really to do with this letter.

I wanted to send you this book because I felt like it was perfect for the adventure that you and your dashing husband and your three beautiful daughters were about to embark on, in a far off land on the other side of the world. And even though we would never again be three houses away from each other, hollering across the back yard fence - I was so happy for you all that you got to go. To live your dream.
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!"
And I knew it would be challenging in ways that you hadn't anticipated. And I worried that it might not be as fun as you'd imagined - all that change at once. Everything so different. But I had faith that you would make it awesome. That you would appreciate each new day of your adventure. And you did.
"It's opener there, in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you."
And things did happen there. You saw things and smelled things. And ate things. And you made new friends and made new plans and were well on your way to making a new home. And then you found a lump.

And they sent you back the US by yourself, without your beloved family, to get it checked. And they told you it was breast cancer. And then you told all of us. All of us here who love you. And we all sort of fell apart while you stayed tough and pragmatic and strong. And the only crack in your armor seems to be the fact that they are there and you are here. And you will not see that dashing man and those three beautiful girls again for a while.
"I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you.
All Alone! Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you'll be quite a lot."
I worry now about you being away from your sacred, small family. I also worry that you're scared. Isn't it funny how scared and sacred are practically the same word? I always mistype them. I'm not the first to see the connection between those two words but right now it feels like it. And I have a feeling that in the months to come, all those who love you will be experiencing those moments - those scared, sacred moments. Where we have to face what's happening to this family we love. And our hearts will fill up and our eyes will fill up and we'll say a prayer.

But those scared, sacred moments will really be yours alone.
"And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on."
When I get worried about this, there is one thought that sustains me. The fact that you are a tiny, hardcore, ass-kicking ninja. And though you're scared, everyone who knows you knows this: You're braver than you're scareder. You will kick this cancer's ass the same way you've beaten every other shitty thing life has thrown at you.
"But on you will go, though the weather be foul.
On you will go, though your enemies prowl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore, and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems, whatever they are.
They caught this early. You're strong and brave. You're going to be well and reclaim your amazing adventure. You will smoosh your girls with the sort of hugs that could possibly crack their ribs (because you're strong like Mighty Mouse and sometimes you forget that). You will have a really long, Hollywood style kiss with your handsome husband and no one will care that it's a little awkward because there are other people there watching. You're going to win.
"And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


So today is the day your fighting really starts. Even though you've been in battle mode for several weeks and technically today is the wonderful Dr. Suess' birthday, it's really your day. Today you have the the surgery that will remove the cancer. And that's good.

Though I have to say - this is in many ways a horrible day. Because none of this should be happening to you. You should not have to move this mountain. The unfairness of it makes me want to scream and ugly sob and kickpunch. (Except that I tried to kickpunch that one time with you in the cul-de-sac and I fell down. Remember? I can only kickpunch if I'm doing it in slo-mo.) I hate that this is happening to you and your family. I hate that you're here in this scared, sacred moment today, though I know you will come through it beautifully.
"Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.
This is also an amazing day, because you have doctors and technology and health insurance and people all over the world who love you so much. And honestly, this cancer has no idea who it's dealing with. But it's about to find out.
"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting.
So... Get on your way!"
I'm praying for you, for your husband and daughters, for the people in that far away land who are helping to care for them, for the family here in the US who is caring for you, for your surgeon, your oncologist, everyone who will help to guide you through this. I'm praying my ass off.

You know that at any time, the Cap'n and I are happy to have you here. We have room. Right now being with your extended family on the left side of the country is where you need to be, but if you ever want to come back to the right side (and by that I mean the East Coast), we're ready to be here for you for as long as you need us.

And I'm so sorry. Sorry this is happening, sorry for every time in our friendship that I was ever a jerk. And very sorry I didn't buy you this book last fall, when it would have been describing another sort of adventure altogether.

Love you,

This is my beautiful friend.
Ellen was the first friend that Kate and I told about this blog. She was our first fan. She was the first person to "like" us on Facebook. She made Kate and I believe that we were sort of cool and refused to let us give up. She is the kind of friend you don't often get in life. She's the kind of mom who makes you want to love more. She is part of this and she is one of us and she is 30 years old and fighting for her life. Please, please pretty please pray for her - or send her your best wishes or whatever you're comfortable with. Because we need her.

This is the picture of us saying goodbye before she moved.

If you want to keep tabs on her, here is her blog.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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