May 21, 2011

I took my girls to Disneyland once. I had twin babies, one in a front-pack, one in a back-pack and the three year old on my shoulders. It was one hundred degrees. The lines for the rides are switchback, which provide a moment of eye to eye contact with the other parents in line. No one spoke, just a silent line of parent cattle, slowly zigzagging through the barriers. In those exchanged looks, we all understood, we are in the club, the club of parenthood, which allows you to spend an enormous amount of cash to be miserable for an entire June day all for the sake of our children.

Getting cancer provides one instant membership into a different type of club, one of fellow fighters and survivors. While mothering, despite it’s hot June Disney miseries, is an honor I accept willingly and with great joy, cancer is a club that I would have never really asked to join. That is for certain. But I am here now, a full fledged member since 2009. Given the chance to make this all go away, I would gladly burn my membership card, toss it in my fireplace, watch the flames shoot up and sip my wine from my favorite glass well into the night. Given the chance.

I started following a blog, back in 2009 called Followed Lingling as She Gave Lymphoma a Beatdown
. It was written by Daniel Weinshenker, who’s wife was battling Lymphoma. Daniel wrote a letter to his baby daughter, on the plane ride home, after learning about his wife’s cancer. It begins, Liddy, Mommy has cancer. I followed his blog from the moment I finished reading Letter to Lydia. His stories carried me through my own battle the first time around, gave me hope and courage. After I finished my treatment, I lost track of Daniel and Lingling. I purposely stopped reading. I was on a cancer vacation, pretending, no believing, I was no longer a member of the club. I was wrong.

So a few days ago, I returned to Followed Lingling, hungry for Daniel’s stories. Looking for hope. No post there since September 2010. My heart sank. When you are a member of this club, you live with the fact that you lose members every day. One day, you’ll return to a blog and see the post you never wanted to see, the one that usually begins with “She lost her battle..” or “Will be missed..” or “Very sad news”. No post since September 2010, but also no sad news post. I sat an hour at my computer, silently working up the courage to email Daniel and ask for an update. His reply came later that afternoon. At first I choked back the tears that his words brought to me, then I just let them flow freely down my face, wetting my cheeks and dripping onto my Life is Good t-shirt. I read it again, and again, and later read it once more to my husband.

Cancer is a club I don’t care to be in, not at all. But the folks you meet here, the stories you are told and one ones you tell, they are a blessing. And, like parenting, even cancer has it’s beautiful precious moments.

Thank you Daniel, for reminding me of this.

from daniel….

Love makes heroes out of ordinary people,
as someone once said.
Oh yeah, that was you.

ronnie, if i was there, i’d take you out for a ted drewes right now.
a big ted drewes with a giant piece of apple pie crushed in it.

that’s what i’d do.

and i’d bring my girls and you’d bring yours
and we’d watch them all play and drip custard all over themselves
and i’d bring my wife
and you’d look across the table at her
and you’d know that cancer can be beaten up.

maybe you already know that.

i like those boxing gloves, ronnie.
i like them a lot.

my guess is that you’re using them.
and you’re punching something ugly.

something really ugly.

we are ok.
there is no cancer.
but there is always the shadow of cancer,
the stain it leaves on the sheets of your life
and no matter how much you scrub it with the detergent
of unaffected days, of glasses of wine after dinner,
of trips to the mountains, of books that you love,
you wake up
and it’s there.

you know this too already.

i’m glad we could be inspiring…
i think stories beget stories,
and hope begets hope.

and you will beget survival.
you already have.




One Response to “daniel”

  1. Vi Wittler Says:

    Ronnie, You don’t know me, but I know you! Thanks for all of your wonderful lessons. Your writing is so inspirational and full of insight and talent. Thanks for sharing your love of life with my daughter Brenda Howsmon and Josh. You have helped make my grandson into a wonderful young man with a respect for women and life. Thanks for teaching him some of your cooking skills also! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. After hearing your children sing their song to you, i am sure they will make you proud and do well in life. Just know there are people you don’t know that appreciate you and are praying for you. Vi Wittler

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