August 2010

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This morning, I was so inspired by Dennis’s playing music, then I read this poem from one of my favorite books, The Illuminated Rumi:

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

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On the way home from post-treatment-then-post-healthy-five-yr-check-up for J,  we stopped for our usual frozen yogurt. After that, Little J was tuuuckered. “Daddy WHEN are we going to be back in Sugartown?”

“By the time you count to thirty, we’ll be off the freeway,” Dennis answered.

Immediately and predictably, Little J started to count as fast as he could. To get the off-ramp there faster.

When he realized he was going to finish before the off-ramp came, he slowed down. When he realized he couldn’t control how quickly the off-ramp was going to come, he let it go and started to do something more fun. “Let’s all count to one hundred.” We were home before we knew it. The kid’s been in kindergarten for three whole days, but he already knows the most important lesson of all, one that Joan Didion taught me: “Play it as it Lays.”

Speaking of Kindergarten, here’s Little J on the first day.

We agree as a family that we’ve accomplished our goal set back in May to have a great summer in spite of the cancer treatments. The last few weeks were no exception. With my birthday celebrations followed by a super-amazing blood-transfusion, and James tearing it up at summer camp, how could they not be great weeks. Here for you, the five senses tour:


Uncle Mike turned 50 two days after I turned 41, so he treated us all to brunch at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. Yum is not enough. Family-style delicious fare shared with Coopers, their BFFs, their lovelies, and their little ones is about as much perfection as one can take. Then there was the local pub for Fish ‘n Chips on my actual bday with my Sugartown girls. Finally, Central Market with the BFFs Mari and Carolyn.

Watermelon salad with feta cheese and lavender-infused honey. MMM.

*Romantic dinner in SF with Dennis after quick jaunt to Tiffany left out to preserve sweetness and mystery.


Chlorine, spray-on sunscreen, and victory as Little J and his swim coach Mason engage in a smile-off. J has just swum half the length of a full-length pool.


The crunching and slurping and satisfied mmms of the long-awaited last-day-before-school-homemade ice cream sandwiches. There were even some bees buzzing nearby. And maybe a cat yawning in the sunshine.


The last hug and kiss before school.


Before this happened:

Sixth sense?

Well, the last thoughts of summer leave us so grateful for my successful treatment and our healthy, happy kid. I have one more round, possibly two (if my bone marrow can take it, visualize strong marrow!) but I’m not counting the seconds to the off-ramp, either. I’m walking to school each day with J and D and playing “I spy with my little eye” and secretly fantasizing about being a part of the PTA when I have the strength. Playing it as it Lays.



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Melody Gardot

Instead of chemo yesterday, I had a blood transfusion. My platelet count was too low for me to be treated. At first, I was so disappointed, mostly because this means we’ll be pushing the end date of my treatment out by one week. Then Mari pointed out that I actually just earned another week of summer, a week of feeling good at that. Getting two giants bags of blood added to your system is a very positive thing. A-positive, to be exact.

So I got my blood and wow! (Dear vampires, I see what all the fuss is about.) I haven’t felt this good since maybe 2007. I’ll be enjoying an extra week of summer with extra energy and feeling strong. Fabulous. Blessing in disguise. Which reminds me. Do you know the story of Melody Gardot? Mari told me this one.

At nineteen, Ms. Gardot was hit by a car while cycling. Injuries to her head, spine, and pelvis kept her in a hospital bed for an entire year. Lying on her back. It also left her with hyper-sensitivity to light and sound, so she has to wear sunglasses all the time, even indoors.

Melody used music therapy to lift her spirits and to help with the neurological damage that made it difficult for her to speak, think of the right words to say, and remember things. During this time, she started to play the guitar and to sing and write her own songs.

I think you’re going to want to add her to your play list when you hear this. Enjoy Ms. Gardot singing Worrisome Heart: (ps: The second photo looks exactly like the street I lived on when I lived in Spain, right Jon?)

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I’ve been thinking a lot about angels lately. The invisible ones are my little secret. The ones that walk this Earth are my friends and family. And they fluttered all around me this weekend. All the messages, cards, and presents, from a bottle of Holy Water from Lourdes, to a pot of a succulents for my garden, touched me deeply and left me feeling so loved.

The ones I want to share with you are from the tiny angels in my life. A card from Little J:

And two from the little cherubs of Sugartown:

I’m so lucky.



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Persephone and Hades, by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I got an email from a dear friend this morning. I haven’t seen him or his sweet husband, one of my most cherished friends, in a long time, and I learned that he is so worried about me that he feels scared to even contact me to ask how I’m doing. Sweet dear. I had no idea people worried about me. Are you? Please don’t. If you are, this post is for you.

Dear, sweet friend writes:

We have been thinking a lot about you lately. How are you doing? What are the docs saying about this round? Honestly, he is often so worried that he can not even come straight out and just ask how you are. It really upsets him. But, I know he really wants to know…It’s just terrible that the disease has come back. I hope you can keep it in remission longer this time if not forever. What do the docs say about that?

I write:

Dearest Sweet Pea, I hope I can, too. What do the docs say about that? I don’t ask. I have lots of reasons to believe it won’t come back. They are my secrets, and I hold them close.

Terrible is one way to look at it. But I don’t really give it that much power. It is something that happened to my family and me. And then it came back. It’s what ovarian cancer does.

The truth is, I’ve taken more goodness and beauty from this disease than it has taken from me.

My experience of life is richer and more peaceful than ever, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Of course I wish I were healed and believe that I am, on some level. And of course there are moments when I break down and mourn over the possibility that I could die from this disease. But these are brief moments of suffering. And then they pass.

I believe that the majority of people suffer more than I do on a day-to-day basis. Because they’re sick of their jobs or their spouses.  Because they feel like they haven’t come far enough in life yet. Because they don’t like their bodies. Because they don’t see how beautiful every moment of this life is or how precious the people in their lives are. Because they don’t feel the love that flows to them from those people. Because they focus on what is wrong.

But that is not where I dwell, so I’m not suffering, or worried, or sick. So please don’t worry.

I love you two tons. Let’s see each other soon. And when my treatment is done, go dancing.



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