Going to work, dealing with pubescent and pre-pubescent kids from amazing to....less than amazing, I've had to become a master at compartmentalizing things. I take all my feelings about everything that is going on, and ram them (teenager style) into the closet in the back of my head, and deal with them when they pop out. I've become good enough at this process that I'm awfully numb to the details, as they arrive. The details should horrify me, but I'm pretty much in a "help everyone else get through things" mode most days.
This past week, my carefully cultivated numbness has been getting shredded.
There are lots of reasons for this. Amie's health (or lack thereof) is way, way more in my face being with her pretty much 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. I've also been seeing a bunch of movies, sneaking out in the mornings here and there, and that always taps way deeper into my consciousness than other things.
But more than anything else, it's Amanda Palmer's fault. <Warning to my more sensitive readers, she is a whole bucket of sharing....everything>
For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, I wrote about her here, a mere two months after Amie's diagnosis. She's been a favorite of mine for a long, long time, for many reasons. Anyway, I'm reading her book, which is named "The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help". The book takes a lot of material from her TED Talk, which is beyond amazing.
For those of you who don't have the time/inclination to watch the 13m video, here's the crux of her message... We are told all our lives that to ask for help is to be weak, but only in letting others help, in being vulnerable, can we ever really develop "real" relationships with people, and the intimacy we get in being vulnerable is the stuff of legend.
Reading her book (to be honest, listening, because I'm an Audible addict), it's all those same messages, but blown up far larger, and way past her professional life.
Listening to her stories, as they unfold, have so many corollaries to my life as it exists right now. The blog is nothing but a giant open vulnerability, letting people in, letting people hear the pain and sorrow, but also the joy and elation, of the day to day experience of living with cancer, and now, in watching it kill, albeit slowly.
So, that leads us to this past week, which has been a massive outpouring of love and affection for me and my family, for Amie and Anya and Shelley.
It started last Friday, with Tracy Delfuoco meeting us at the hospital, and giving me a bunch of stuff from my classroom that I needed to finish off grades for the marking period. Along with those dreaded papers, came bags and bags of gifts for the girls, from students, parents, and staff members. The notes from current students, past students, parents....all overwhelming in their desire to do something to lessen our burdens, to help in some way.
Things accelerated greatly last night, due to our Impromptu Pool Party at the Hartland Aquatic Center. The "monkey pool", as Amie calls it due the inflatable monkeys in the trees next to the lazy river, is one of Amie's favorite places on Earth, and consistently reminds her of her time at Aulani in Hawai'i.
The party was accidental, truly. We went to the pool last Thursday morning, and apologized to the head lifeguard <I believe her name was Beverly, will check for sure later> for bringing the stroller out into the pool area, due to Amie's lack of ability to walk. She told us it was no problem, and we started to swim. As we went to leave, the Pool Manager, Sean Corcoran, approached us, and offered a free pool party for Amie. After talking through some details, he shared that the entire kids' side of things would be free, and we could have up to 75 people in the pool. They even scored free food from two local vendors as well. (I don't have the notes on me. I'll fix when I have them to make things official)
That party was last night. It was beyond overwhelming. We had....so many people there who have been huge supporters of Amie. To look around, as I floated in the lazy river with Amie, and see dozens of families having a great time, playing with their kids, talking to each other, some of which had not seen in each other in years....it was a massive affirmation of life, of friendships, of the hard work we put in to raise our kids, to hold together friendships under said kids, to hold together relationships under the stress of life and illness and jobs and kids and...everything.
But as I was packing up all the gifts that people brought (totally unnecessarily), I saw this massive line up of people waiting to leave....and I realized it was also a party that was the opposite of a funeral in some ways. It was a small gift that a terminal diagnosis has given us. People are able to say goodbye to her, to experience her joy and language and jokes and fun...while she's alive. They were able to hear her laugh (at 9pm!), have her tell a joke, get a hug (if you were really lucky like Jennifer Overholt!), and just enjoy her.
Watching that, I realized that the party wasn't just for Amie, it was also for them. For those who have been helping us keep strong, keep together, and stay whole through this process....it was a gift for them.
So. For all those who have helped us, and will continue to help us in this journey...Thank you. Sincerely.
There are a ton more things I'd like to write about right now, but I think what I've written is the perfect amount. The pictures of last night will follow in the days ahead, as will the events of the weekend that we've got planned.
Thank you, everyone. For everything. We're humbled, and glad you're along for the journey.
ps. The blog passed 200,000 views this past week. Wow.