A TRIP TO THE DRY CLEANERS
In early March 2012, I found myself at the dry cleaners for a routine pick-up. Nothing unusual about this except, only 2 weeks earlier, I had just checked-out from a one week stay at UCLA Medical Center surviving an eleven-hour surgery to have an aggressive tumor removed from my tongue. The right half of my tongue was cut out and reconstructed with muscles, tissues and arteries from my arm leaving me with a tracheotomy and a feeding tube in my nose. This uneventful drive to the dry cleaners was 14 days post-surgery and only weeks away from beginning three months of simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation.
This errand was one of the “normal” things I did. As I carefully hung newly pressed shirts in the back seat of my car, I shut the door and burst into tears. “What the heck am I doing? Who goes to the dry cleaners after going through what I went through? Nothing felt logical about this. Struggling to catch my breath, I called a friend to calm my frayed nerves. I will never forget the simple words she shared with me, “You cannot force the normal back into your life. It is going to take time.” She was 100% right. This was exactly what I was doing. If I do normal things than my life will go back to normal, right? At least I was hoping it would.
A TRADER JOE'S PODCAST
Fast forward to the present and two months into Coronavirus lockdown, I was on one of my daily “I’ll show quarantine who’s boss” walks. Getting outside and moving my body is one of my DYP™ staples. I was listening to the latest episode of the Trader Joe's podcast which was all about the impressive and vital measures Trader Joe's is taking in response to COVID-19. For those of you who are fans of Trader Joe’s stores (which I am), the best way I can describe the Trader Joe's podcast is…it’s very Trader Joe's…it’s fun, quirky, informative, and on the light side. As the podcast wound down, the hosts highlighted some of their new spring delights…Springle Jingle, honey mustard pretzel pieces, truffle catsup and more. As they broadcast each new foodie item, my insides began to unravel followed by uncontrolled sobbing. The kind of tears where you find yourself gulping to come up for air. I was completely thrown. What was happening?
Prior to quarantine, I held the moniker as the official food shopper in my family. Once pandemic hit, my husband took over these responsibilities, and believe me when I tell you, no one can curate a shopping list with such precision as my husband. We both agreed with my history of cancer, chemotherapy and my head and neck area fried one too many times from radiation, going out wasn’t such an awesome idea if I could help it. To be honest, I don’t miss the daily errands and spinning my wheels to check one more task off my to-do-list, but this podcast reminded me how much I was missing the normal in my life and how sad I was about it. Not only was I missing these innocent outings, but it brought out my deepest fears of what my life might be like going back out there…going to Trader Joe's, date night, the doctors, hair appointments, Target runs, public speaking, carpooling, school events, socializing, traveling, all of it. At least when my family and I are stuck at home, I feel safer and more in control.
Quarantine restrictions are slowly being lifted. As I look around or watch the news (which is probably not such a great idea for me right now), some people have shifted gears from 0 to 100 and it’s business, as usual, socializing, working, and living life. This knee jerk reaction seems a little extreme for me right now but to each his or her own. I hope people are being responsible.
The good news…I am not paralyzed by the fear, but the fear is real for me. As I wrap my head around this complete unknown, I reflect on that moment at the dry cleaners many years ago when I was hell- bent to knock the normal back into my life, and I have to remind myself, right now, at this moment, THIS IS GOING TO TAKE TIME. With a gigantic pit in my stomach, eventually I will walk back into Trader Joe's, and I will be nervous. Then I will go into Trader Joe's again, and again, and again and hopefully my nerves will shrink and my new normal will find its shape. Whether this takes days, weeks, months or longer, I don’t know, but I am confident the Power of Time will help me heal, lessen my fears, and keep me moving forward. Time helped me recover from cancer, and I have to believe it will help me now. I DYP – Discovering My Power, My Way with Time. Could the Power of Time work for you?
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