Today I thought I would be writing about the run away dog I tried to save this morning.  That was the most exciting part of my day and took me back to the heartbreaking 48 hours I endured while living in Arizona 12 years ago.  My dog Sammy had been kicked by a teenage boy outside our teacher housing on the Navajo Nation, and she ran away.  I did everything I could to find her, and $200 in reward money later,  she appeared on the highway at midnight.  All I wanted to do this morning was  to act in a way that I’d want others to do for me.  If you see a stray dog, that dog most likely belongs to someone.  And the collared black and white dog I followed for blocks this morning in my car had branches stuck to his fur, so I’m guessing he got caught in the storm last night.  After calling Animal Control, I tried to let go.  But I pray that someone got this dog to come to them so that his family could be contacted.  I had planned on analyzing this morning’s adventure even further, but then I was punched in the stomach with the uncertainty of life.

First, I want to tell you about my friend.  We met at a wellness center last fall but didn’t really spend any time together outside of our classes until January of this year.  We became instant friends.  She was exactly what I needed, as I went through the changes and dissolutions of some old friendships, not to mention my ebbs and flows of pain.  And  I really wanted to be there to support her through the trials and tribulations she was enduring at the time.  A dog lover like myself, we connected right away by talking about our furry kids.  You see, this woman is that special friend who makes me feel good about myself and will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.  When I tried to help a guy (unstable but I didn’t know it at the time) who needed a place to stay, she cleansed my house of the negative energy he had brought into it.  When I need rides to and from class, she is always here to pick me up.  And when it comes to beautifying my garden with her incredible passion for dahlias, she has assisted me in every way.  She has also been an integral part of helping me create the living space I want.  I admire the way she is able to hear her inner voice, share her intuitions with others, and deliver a feeling of peace to everyone she connects with.  With the challenges she has been facing lately, we haven’t been able to spend as much time together as I’d like.  But I know our friendship is not your typical “Out of sight, out of mind” relationship.  I think of her often, and I know she does the same for me.

So tonight, as I was soaking in the bathtub and waiting for the link to appear from an interview Louise Hay was promoting, I saw an e-mail from my good friend.  It was short, yet shocking.  “I found out I have breast cancer.  I will know more tomorrow.”  I wasn’t near a phone and needed time to process the reality of what she had just written.  Breast cancer.  I have had my scares with those words in the past:  biopsies that lead to days of worry before hearing my results.  Not an uncommon scare for women, I’m afraid.  Breast cancer.  I hate those words and have only heard them applied to my life when my aunt was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing stage of breast cancer years ago.  Fortunately, she survived.  Breast cancer.  Seriously?  This is supposed to be the time in her life when she can finally become herself again.  To explore who she is now.  To be able to re-connect with her passions and discover new ones.  To enjoy the time with her family and friends that has been sucked up by a challenging situation she is finally emerging from.   When I was finally able to dry off and get to my phone, I planned on leaving her a voice message.  I knew she had written me an e-mail because it was too hard to talk about.  But when she picked up the phone on the third ring, all I could do was cry.  I apologized for crying but couldn’t deny what I was feeling either.  She is such a special woman, and I just want her to have the time she deserves to be happy, to finally know how it feels to not struggle anymore.

As I watched the video I had been waiting for, the word “uncertainty” came up a lot.  Kris Carr, the woman being interviewed, was speaking about her experiences with cancer.  They told her she had ten years to live with sarcoma, and she was on year eleven.  Kris said she had painstakingly come to the conclusion that she could either be the pissed off teenager whose angry all the time or choose to live in the uncertainty of every moment.  While the latter choice is most likely the scariest, it’s also the most promising.  You’re always going to be depressed as the teenager, but to live in uncertainty allows you to experience some of the happiest moments of your life.  Uncertainty…definitely a word that applies to all of us and requires further investigation at a later date.

So to put it all in context tonight, my life could be worse.  Yes, chronic pain disrupts my life in more ways than people can imagine.  I bet, though, that some people who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or mental illness would gladly exchange that for chronic pain:  the pulling of their heads, the stabbing burning pain, the random spasms…

When my roommate walked in a few moments ago and asked if I’d been listening to the news after I told him it had been a horrible night, I had no idea that our beloved Robin Williams had taken his own life.  Just how do we define chronic pain?  Does it have to hurt physically?  Can it be defined as the emotional pain that sticks with those who struggle with addiction?  The reason why they self-medicate themselves so they don’t have to address the roots of the pain?  With him being in and out of rehab so many times, he obviously had pain he had never been able to successfully manage without the use of drugs.  Uncertainty?  Most definitely!  We always think our idols will certainly live forever.  It’s surreal to think that this man who has made so many of us smile and laugh will no longer be here to do that in person.  I was engaged to an alcoholic, and it was one of the most difficult relationships I had to leave.  Uncertainty lingered with my decision, and it was one of the toughest choices I’ve ever made.  Why?  Because I knew I was the only one who cared whether he lived or died.  Unfortunately, Robin Williams must not have had that person at his side when he left this world.  My life could be worse.

Hopes:  I hope and pray that my friend gets the best medical and healing care there is.  I hope to be a part of this, no matter what my role is on this journey:  a silent companion, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to travel with, or just lie next to, and most importantly, someone she can laugh with.  After all, laughter is the best medicine!

And I hope that addictions will be brought to the forefront of our discussions in America.  This doesn’t just happen to celebrities, although that’s the only time these diseases make it into the news.  I can count on two hands the number of people I know personallywho are addicts in one way or another.  Please don’t dismiss this as “just another consequence of being a part of the Hollywood scene”.  Let’s talk about it, and see what our society can do to prevent others from taking their lives in the future!

My new friend Terry created this video, based on the first two blog posts.  As powerful as it is, I believe it really embraces the subject of tonight’s post.  You just might want to have a Kleenex box nearby.

Chronic Hope, Chronic Gain






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