Why can’t I throw this away? It certainly doesn’t bring me joy, but it brings me comfort.
My dad brought over a bunch of boxes from his house. Conveniently, at the worst time. We’re trying to clean our basement out because we have started the process of renovating.
I reluctantly open up this box with my mother’s handwriting on it. I could easily put the ribbons that are inside into my ribbon box and throw the box away. But I can’t. I stand there staring at her handwriting.
I think of how she always said it was necessary to write out Christmas and not abbreviate Xmas because it took the Christ out of Christmas. I have to say, while cute and endearing, that kind of stuff makes me roll my eyes now.
I wonder how our relationship would be now, if she were still alive. The woman had a faith stronger than most I’ve encountered in my life. Had she put the faith she had in God and others into herself I wonder if that would have changed things for her.
Her Christmas beliefs and mine definitely wouldn’t align today. She was very Christian in her celebrations. I more so enjoy the decorations, music, and movies. I have a very different relationship with faith and God. I don’t think either one of us were or are right or wrong, it’s just our personal interpretations.
I get frustrated with belief systems. While I want all to freely have their beliefs and be able to practice them, I don’t want belief systems running or controlling anything. Too many wars and now public health crises come out of belief systems. I’m not down with that. Science should call most of the shots today.
I think of a lot of things just by seeing her handwriting.
She passed away in July 1996, so it will be 25 Christmases without her this year. Huh. It’s like each year I opened a different door on the Advent calendar of life without mom. Now here we are, Christmas Day year 25 and no door to open. 25 Christmases. How is it possible? How have I gone through so much without her? Three major depressions, panic disorder, dissociation, bipolar disorder, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, among other illnesses and ailments. Deaths of loved ones. Disappointments. Grief beyond belief. The exciting and happy times, too. She missed all of it. I’ve had no motherly guidance in almost 25 years. I hit adulthood at age 13. Earlier, really. I was 10 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was difficult to go to her for advice when she was suffering so much. I can’t forget the other tragedies that hit my family before her diagnosis, too. I basically hit adulthood at age seven if I’m being honest.
That BRCA1 gene diagnosis, though. It haunts me most days. I’ve done so much to cope with this. They basically told me I have an 80% chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer. Increased risk for cancer in general. I live my live striving to be in the 20%. It is not easy, ever. Every single day it crosses my mind. Some days it is tolerable. Some days it’s downright terrifying. It’s just there, and I’ve accepted that it’s part of me.
More of my friends are getting cancer diagnoses now, too. It’s devastating.
I’m afraid of going to the doctor. There, I said it. While I worked my ass off to find doctors who exhibit empathy with their honesty, it still scares me. I used to constantly see doctors, too. Trying to find the healthy balance FOR ME has been consuming at times. This life I lead isn’t an easy road to walk. Never has been, since 1996, especially.
I truly believe our mindset plays such a massive role in everything. That isn’t a reason to bypass your emotions, though. Or doctors and modern medicine. I experience so much anger and frustration and I’m honest about that. The more you try to positive think your way around that, the sicker and more delusioned you’ll get. Expression is key with me. I locked so much up inside of me for many years and that undoubtedly contributed to my pain and agony. I couldn’t heal until I allowed myself to be blunt about how awful and consuming it was. Honesty is a big component to healing. I’m not on board with the spiritual bypassing going on out there in the “healing” world.
There are so many contributing factors to cancer. This is why I think it’s just so damn hard to treat. People are individually so unique.
The first few years after finding out I am a BRCA1 gene carrier, I went 100% all in to the preventative tests and exams. It damn near killed me. It was far too much. I know science is starting to catch on to the emotional and psychological toll this can have on an individual, and I’ve since cut way back on the doctors and tests. My insurance stopped covering most of these tests, too. I wasn’t about to pay $3,000 for an ultrasound every six months. Fuck that. Most people can’t afford that! Our system is flawed in so many ways. I can’t lie, I was almost relieved to use this as an excuse to cut back on all the testing and exams, though. It was too much.
I just scheduled an appointment with the High Risk Breast Clinic the other day. 90 minute appointment, yikes. My gynecologist suggested I check back in when I saw him for my annual a few months back. I go in January. I feel confident but I still question if I’m doing the right thing for myself. I know chemo and radiation are not for me. I also know preventative breast removal at this point in my life is a firm NO. It’s not up for discussion with me. It’s just not. The ovary removal isn’t off the table, though. But not yet. Maybe when I’m 40. Maybe not. We’ll see.
So why go? I guess I hold on to the hope that there will be some new preventative ideas. Treatments more realistic for my deeply sensitive self. I still think about canceling and not going through with all the tests that inevitably will be suggested at this appointment. Even my husband sees what mental turmoil I go through with all of this and he wonders why I even go. I want peace of mind, and I know that’s not guaranteed by getting checked out. I struggle with my science brain and intuitive brain. I have both. I trust science, but my deeply sensitive body knows I break the mold when it comes to health and wellness. I’m the zebra, when I sound like a horse, as the saying goes. Harsh and intense medical treatments and medications have never done any bit of good and have almost killed me at times. I still would choose death than ever go through the eight months after my Prednisone reaction again.
So yeah, looking at my mom’s handwriting on that damn box brings up a lot. It’s always present, it’s not like seeing her handwriting exposed some deep mystery within my soul. It just makes me realize how much I’ve battled without her here, on Earth, present in my life.
I miss my mom and I can’t just throw the box away simply because it doesn’t “spark joy.”