Thursday, July 9, 2015

It Takes A Village

Written Tuesday, July 7

I know I've talked about this before, but today I really need to articulate these feelings.  The saying "It takes a village to raise a child" is being revised in my house.  We now say, "It takes a village to care for a cancer patient."  I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing village, one that I really didn't know existed before I got sick.  I knew that there were good people in my life, and I knew that if something bad ever happened, that there was a handful of people that I could count on to help out.  What I didn't know, never really expected, and have been overjoyed to learn, is that my handful of people is so, so much bigger than a handful!

As I sit here writing this, it is the first night of dress rehearsal for the girl's dance recital this weekend.  For those of you non-dance moms out there, this entails three very long afternoon/evenings during which we can take pictures and videos (no pics or videos at the actual recital).  It is exhausting, but also really fun to watch.  This is the first time since her first recital in 2006 that I am not in the theater.  Why am I telling you all of this?  Because within an hour of rehearsal starting, I had ten pictures either texted or sent to me via Facebook.  I know there are more coming.  My village of dance mamas is determined not to let me miss out on a moment, and for that, I am so, so thankful.  These are the same moms who have coordinated a schedule to make sure that the girl has not missed a class or an extra rehearsal or any sort of dance related event, many of them going out of their way after a long night of class to bring her home.  And the same moms who were the first to volunteer to drive me to radiation.  And the same moms who brought food, lots and lots of food, to feed my family while I was in the hospital.  They have sewn costumes, done hair and makeup, cheered her on in my place, all the while making sure I had pictures and documentation of all of her accomplishments. 

What is remarkable about this part of my village is that many of these women are not people I knew very well before I got sick.  Sure, we have been couch surfing for years, trading stories and laughs and complaints about our children, but we didn't really know each other.  Except for a few, we didn't socialize outside the studio, except maybe at a birthday party.  But not one of them hesitated.  Not only did they not hesitate, they didn't wait to be asked to help out.  In fact, some of them wouldn't take no for an answer (you know who you are!)  I am, and always will be, eternally grateful.

Another part of my village is the neighborhood of old friends, people who have know me since the way back, who know all the stories.  These are the folks who have kept my spirits up, who don't mind (or at least say they don't mind) when I text them at midnight from the hospital because I am losing my mind or who send me a text or an email or a shout out from Facebookland every single day.  They are the friends whose psychic messages I get loud and clear, the cheerleaders of unwavering faith.  And they are the friends who let me be angry and rail against the world, the universe, G-d, wherever this dreaded disease originated and they don't judge.  They rail with me, are angry with me, and when I don't have the energy, they are angry for me.  And then, they help me to let go of the anger so I can heal.  I don't have to question whether they will be here because I know they are always at my back.  Again, eternally grateful.

Far and away the most constant and enduring part of my village are my family members.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law took turns coming in from Virginia to hold down the fort at home while Steve and my mom took care of me at the hospital.  Our schedule is not for the faint of heart, but they managed, with the help of other village members, to keep everyone on track and occupied.  My mother spent hours and hours and hours at the hospital and then generously gave up half her room so that I could come home.  For months she shared her space with me and my oh-so-stylish and comfy hospital bed and medical equipment.  As a mother, I know how much it must pain her to see me miserable.  My brother, poor guy, moved cross country (at my insistence), the day after my first surgery, to start a new job.  I know he has hated every minute of being away, but I can feel the love and support from him from all the way from Maryland.  He has kept me on my toes, listened while I complained, and made me laugh, all the while making sure I am keeping it real.  No hiding anything from him.

Of course, the most important members of my village are my husband and those three little bodies (okay, two little bodies and one who has suddenly shot up inches above me).  I am going to save them for my next post...It Takes a Village, Part 2, since this post has gotten awfully long.

Love and sparkles to you all,
Gayle

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