I said something in yesterday’s post that’s been bothering me. I brought up the subject of telling a family member or friend something that needs saying.

It may be the case that you can’t speak to them. Maybe that person passed away before you could tell him what needed saying. Maybe he’s still around but refuses to speak to you. If it turns out that, for whatever reason, you don’t have the chance to reconnect don’t let regret take you over. It is possible to love someone even if they can’t return it.

The term “closure” is bantered around a lot these days. I’m not sure who dreamed it up or even what it means exactly. I suppose it means finishing unfinished business or making things right. But the implication is it will be a disaster if you don’t “get closure.”

Well that’s a lousy philosophy. It is, of course, the best thing when you can resolve an issue or heal old wounds as they say. But don’t pin your hopes on doing so. If closure doesn’t happen you need to make a choice. Is that going to take you down or can you find that closure within your heart and let go of the pain?

I know a little about this subject. My father divorced us when I was a little boy. I never saw him again. He died when I was 17. I learned that as his death drew near he had asked to see me but due to a bad decision by others I wasn’t told until he was gone. How’s that one for no “closure”?

Now, I was very lucky to be raised by an adoptive dad who was loyal to the bone. So that helped a lot. But I never got to hear the sound of my bio father’s voice. I never got to tell him I forgave him. Yes, that hurt. It still does a bit. Watching movies that end with a father/son reconciliation still make my eyes water. But I worked through it. That lack of “closure” wasn’t a disaster. I didn’t crumble into a pile of crushed hopes and everlasting despair. The simple truth is I moved on.

Life can be shitty at times. Not every day is full of roses and rainbows. In fact, I believe it is the hard days that build our character.

So if someone tells you they are sorry you didn’t get closure on some issue, thank them for their concern but don’t take it to heart. Not all circles get closed. Not every hole is filled. Life isn’t about loss, it’s about how you handle it.

I say a lot in this blog about not giving in to Leuk. The truth is we shouldn’t give in to despair from any source. There’s no time for it. It ain’t worth it.

Guard your heart. Do all you can to love others but when life turns bad keep your heart above shit level.

Hey. That might make a great country song title.

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I got some work done on my book yesterday. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been feeling so hot (probably just a Cold), or because I put that damn counter on my Goals page, but whatever it is I’ve been having this feeling of urgency.

I’m more aware that my time is limited. I’m not trying to be melodramatic here. And I most certainly am not having a pity party. I’m just facing the obvious. I’m not fearful, just determined.

Now, I’m guessing I have many years before the old bucket gets kicked because my leukemia is still under control. Well, maybe control isn’t the right word, but Leuk is not very strong with me yet. The plain truth is everyone is terminal whether they’re healthy or not.

So, whatever it is, leukemia, a Cold, or just that counter, I’m glad for the motivation. It seems to be getting me off my butt finally. Well, actually I sit on my butt when I write, but you get my meaning.

I know I’ve said it before, but I truly hope you are pushing forward with whatever goals lie within your abilities. As long as you are breathing you still have time to achieve something. It doesn’t have to be anything big. If all you can muster is finally telling a family member that certain thing you’ve always wanted to say then do it. Come to think of it, that might just be one of the most important goals of all.

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I have a person in my life, someone important to me, who is angry with me. I found this out in a terse text message from him saying “never contact me again”.

His anger was born from a misunderstanding of the facts. I want so much to clear the air between us.  I would like him to know the truth about what happened and how I tried to make things work properly but was thwarted in my attempts by someone else.

I’ve tried to make contact but his text message put an end to that.

I believe I have many years yet before Leuk takes me and I hope that time will give opportunity for reconciliation.

Having a life threatening disease makes you focus on what really matters. For now, for me, I need peace and less stress. I wish I could take away his anger but I can’t control him or anyone else for that matter.

So I love him from a distance and focus on my immediate family: my wife, children and their spouses, and my grandchildren. There is so much love to nest in here. I thrive with them.

It would be sad if I die without seeing him. If that happens, though, I want him to know I understand his feelings and I really did mean him no harm. I forgive him and I hope he will forgive me.

If you have leukemia try your best to make repairs to damaged relationships. But if you can’t, don’t let the stress eat at you. Love them and move on. But never forget the good times and what that person means to you. Because getting right down to it, love is what matters.

When I kick the bucket I want to go out the right way, the only way: with love.

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I tried being normalWhat do we mean when we think of some people as being ‘normal’? Those of us who have a disease, such as this “glorious” leukemia, think of healthy people as ‘normal’. We say things like, “God it would be nice to be normal again.” Or, “I used to have a normal life.”

When I had major financial difficulties I remember wishing I had a normal life like before.

But when my financial situation changed for the better – not much cash but very little debt, I didn’t suddenly become ‘normal’. In fact, looking back I realized I never have been normal.

Now with Leuk in my life you could say I’m not as normal as other people. Yeah. True. But so what?

I don’t think there really is a ‘normal’, or if there is I sure as heck don’t want to be it.

I have talents that not everyone has – writing, photography, drumming (although I am lousy at it, I played in a band for eight years), scuba diving, sailing, and wasting a great deal of time watching movies. Well, okay, a really LOT of us do that last one.

I don’t have talents in other areas. I’m a terrible singer. No, I mean really terrible (but I still belt songs out in the shower). If I built a house it would fall over in a light wind. I don’t climb mountains (gravity is a bitch). When I paint, if ever, I have to call it Abstract Art. I mean, REALLY abstract; like geez-that-was-a-waste-of-paint type abstract. And I hate broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, Indian food, and rap music.

Speaking of talents, I apparently have a good one for getting leukemia. I’m a real expert at that.

These talents, and lack there of, are normal for me but not for the next guy. In order for there to be ‘normal’ people there has to be a lot of folks with the exact talents doing exactly the same thing. I don’t know about snow flakes, but I’m sure that none of the seven billion people on this planet are perfectly alike. And that goes for twins too.

There is not a Normal Club out there. Perhaps there should be an NA (Normalaholics Anonymous) though for people who actually think they are normal.

So I suggest we all give up on this phony ‘Normal’ psychosis and aim for being great instead.

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Those of us in the cancer club sometimes face a temptation that’s seldom talked about. It doesn’t affect all of us but possibly more than care to admit it.

Even though blood cancers are more survivable than ever before, we are acutely aware of Leuk’s death threats. This possibility of a shortened life can get our minds cranking in a direction we’d not considered before, or if we had, it was something we rejected as fool hardy, morally wrong, or even dangerous.

Ideas that once played out in fantasies start becoming possibilities. Let’s call it the “I’d-like-to-try-that-before-I-die” syndrome. I’m not talking about your usual bucket list stuff like hang gliding or deep sea fishing. I don’t have any statistics but I’m guessing the problem is more common among men.

Okay, so I seem to be dancing around it. If you have this issue than you know what I’m talking about: the desire for a brief dalliance or even a full-blown affair outside of your marriage.

Now, I have friends and relatives who read this blog so I want to be clear here. I am talking about temptations and close calls – not actual actions. But when I started this blog I promised to be as honest as I could with my readers. If my goal is to help and encourage those struggling with leukemia I can’t BS them. I have to be real.

In the early stages of leukemia, especially with CLL, Leuk is invisible. You still feel pretty good and to the outside world you look quite normal. But you don’t know how long you will still have the energy needed to remain active. You don’t know, especially in the beginning, what will come of you – what sort of life you will be living, or even how long you will be living.

During this time of inward (and frankly selfish) brooding, that little dark spot in your soul, the secret place that everyone on the planet has and tries to keep under control, starts weaving through your mind like the threading tendrils of a parasitic plant. What was once a faint, empty whisper barely heard, becomes a slowly growing chant pushing you towards compulsion. If not checked, you will act.

This is not a battle with Leuk. It is a battle within yourself. So how do you beat this thing? What tools are there to resist these dark thoughts?

Here’s seven to consider. Keep them in your tool bag at all times:

(1) God. If you have a faith in God than use it. Put Him to work. You’ve already been praying about your fight with Leuk and maybe, just maybe, the fight we’re talking about here is even more important.

(2) A Friend. Not just a beer drinking, Monday night football friend. I mean a real Friend – the one you trust, the one you can open your soul to and know he won’t judge you but will hold you accountable. If you are lucky enough to have such a friendship, reach out for help. You may have noticed I capitalized ‘Friend’ just like I capitalized ‘God’. Why? Well, I have such a friend and he deserves the same kind of respect. I don’t see him often but I know I can rely on him. My faith in God often falters but my trust in my friend never does.

(3) Your legacy. Think about what you will leave to your family. I don’t mean any inheritance of wealth. I mean the legacy of who you were and what you meant to them. The desire to build a legacy, a reputation if you will, before you die can overpower any compulsions that might destroy it.

(4) Your mind. Keep guard on what you put into your head. Avoid pornography completely. Even some television shows can lead you in weird directions. Get rid of Cable and check out movies from the library or rent from Netflix.

(5) Read. Read. Read. Soak your soul with the bracing magic of good writers.

(6) Don’t spend too much time alone. Stay involved with your family. Just being with your spouse, your kids, and especially your grand-kids puts your mind right as to what is really important.

(7) Your roots. There is a beach grass that grows on the beaches here. Though it grows in the gravel and sand it is almost impossible to pull out. Each plant joins its roots with every other plant forming a strong underground web structure that holds the beach together confounding the erosive efforts of the winter storm waves . By applying the above suggestions to your daily habits you will grow stronger and find that your dark desires become less important.

Writer’s, all writers, whether writing non-fiction or fiction, put a piece of themselves in their work. It’s not blatantly obvious but it is there, hiding between the lines.

That’s why today’s post is a difficult one for me to write; a part of me is lurking in it. I don’t know if this will help anyone out there or if it’s just me unloading. But it needed to be written.

I wish you the best hope in your fight with Leuk and your struggles within.

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