Today marks my four years of being officially cancer free. And while you think it warrants throwing my arms up in the air, and singing “Alleluia,” know that I have to actually pull forth every bit of inner strength to hold things together. You see, two days ago I turned 41, so my birthday is now forever partnered with today, my cancerversary. This time frame is also partnered with my 6 month oncology check-up, in which I’m poked and prodded, blood drawn, and sitting and waiting to hear IF something is wrong. That’s right, if everything is ok, you don’t get a call. Nerve-wracking, right? (Add Memorial Day and soldiers dying for our freedom to the mix, and I’m two tissues shy of being a top Kleenex investor.)
This year has also been yet another filled with gut-wrenching outcomes. The death of several friends due to cancer, along with the diagnosis, treatment and recovery of some amazing women – it never ends. I’m constantly trying to keep perspective, without over-analyzing and getting stuck in my head. Because if you’ve EVER had to deal with a life-altering event, you understand how easy it is to get stuck in your head, and that nothing good comes out of it. So, this past year, I keep going back to the question asked of me, “Mommy, are we poor?” Let’s rewind…
My head starts to spin. “Why do you ask?”
“I was just wondering, are we poor?” She responds matter-of-factly.
How do I respond? According to whose terms? I mean, we rent, don’t own. We don’t have a car. I am an advent believer in public transportation and Zipcar. However, we have several TVs, computers, cable/internet. We don’t travel much because it is costly, but we do fly at least twice a year to see either family or to our annual summer getaway. While cancer did wipe out the little life savings we had, we did pay off all of the debt (with some help, but we did it). I do have more on the credit cards than I would like, but not impossible to be paid off within the year. Also, this is my factual child. She’s normally not the one contemplating the creation of the universe and what happens when we die. (That’ll be a post for a different time, starring our little Ellie.) She is all about things being black or white, no gray area in between. So when she asks me this question, I am taken aback. But if I learned anything from dealing with these kids, it’s safest to answer with a question.
“Well, is there anything in life that you need that you don’t have? Not that you want, which is different. But anything that you NEED? Clothes, food, like that?” (You see where this is going?)
“No, we have all of that.”
“There are some people in this world, this country, even in New York and our neighborhood, maybe even kids you go to school with…they don’t have things that they need to simply live a healthy and safe life. You could always want more than what you have. And those with money that call themselves rich, aren’t necessarily happy. Money can’t buy happiness. Money can make things easier, yes. But I believe that being rich means something more. We have a roof over our head, clothes on our back, food on our plates, plus books, journals, movies, and more. But we also have our health, and more importantly, we have each other. If you ask me, I think that we’re very rich.”
“You’re right, we are very rich!”
And with that, we all went on with our day. Since then, my mantra has been, “I am rich,” and I’ve been screaming it to myself lately. Reminding myself has been both continuous and necessary. It’s getting me through this ‘Sun in Gemini’ month, opening me up to everything living or dead, bringing me back to life, putting my life back into perspective. “I am rich, I am rich.”