Reunited Through Loss

I’ve been told that my love story with my husband is like something you’d see in the movies.  I’d have to agree.

He loved me before I even knew what love of the romantic type really entailed.  He was my childhood friend who became one of my closest guy friends in middle and high school. He was patient and honest, he could make me laugh and feel safe in his embrace. I remember him always being there as a protector of sorts.  Throughout school,  I grew to know that his feelings for me were more than just a friend although he never expressed it like I knew he wanted.  Our lives traveled different paths and it wasn’t our time to nurture a romantic relationship in high school.  Our sisters are best friends and although he and I had not spoken in 16 years, we kept up with one another through our sisters.  A few years ago, I prayed and manifested for a love that understood my dynamic life, honors my past, celebrates my present and enchants my future!   I did not expect that when this love finally made its way to me, that it would be my childhood friend, Philip.

The last time I saw him was when my mom passed away in 1999.  Fast forward to December 31, 2015,  his mom passed away and I knew I was going to her funeral to support Philip and his family.  His mom knew how he felt about me and I’m told that she always believed that he and I would end up together someday.  Philip and I probably should have gone to junior prom together but we didn’t.  He made me promise to come and see him before prom so he could see me all dressed up.  Even us going to prom together wasn’t meant to be because had we gone together, I might not have had the amazing journey I did with Carlleena and Val may not exist. Trust the Universe and your instinct.  I remember the look on his face when he saw me in my prom dress,  which is actually pretty close to how he looked at me when we got married. Even more so, I remember the look on his mom’s face as she watched us interact and I glanced toward her and smiled. She was a woman wise beyond belief with a heart of gold and a fiery spirit. She and I share the same birthday.

About two months before Philip and I reconnected, I wanted to date someone and when I asked if they would consider dating me, that someone said no.  I was surprised at his polite reply of No and his explanation because he had expressed years earlier that he could have seen us dating and being in a relationship. I saw it too but the Universe was working on us both.  I am grateful for his No.  I remember when I received a friend request from Philip.  I saw his picture and put my hand over my heart and said “that’s my Philip.”  I let him know that I would be there at the funeral.  I was anxious.  My heart felt as though it was trying to escape from the protection of my chest long before our eyes met!    For those that know me well, know that I am not the anxious type of person.  When I’m angry, it’s best to let me take a walk and know that when I reenter the room, I will be more of my calm, level headed self…but I don’t usually experience this level of anxious.  It was a foreign feeling.  On the solo drive to the funeral home, I literally had to pull my car over in the Piggly Wiggly  parking lot, get out of the car and walk around to calm myself down.  I think I actually asked myself out loud, “What is wrong with you, get it together Marcy!”  What I didn’t realize during that brisk walk around my car was that my spirit already knew what I was going to experience in the next half hour.

I delayed walking into the funeral home, sitting in my car pretending to look for something trying to distract myself from what the Universe designed.  The moment our eyes locked in the midst of this room filled with grief and pain at his mother’s passing, my world stood still.  It felt as though I was in a peaceful vortex full of emotion and memory and future visions somehow.  I knew at that moment in his arms that life made sense.  For the first time in so many years, my life made sense.  The boy that loved me so long ago…I still saw the love in his eyes as a man.  He felt like home, like all the things I ever lost have come back to me and were represented within him.  We were inseparable the next day and I hung out with him and his family until I headed back to Charlotte.

We talked to each other every night from that day on.  We spent the next 11 months taking turns traveling to and from FL and NC to see each other once a month.  We were engaged in March, we bought a house in September,  I moved to FL in November and we were married in January of 2017!  It seems like a quick transition to some, but to us, it couldn’t get here quick enough.  We both were so ready to start the rest of our lives together!  Although we celebrate the memory of his mom and the wonderful woman she was, today for us, we also celebrate the beginning of our romantic journey into our future.  Mama Sue’s passing brought Philip and I together.  When my sister, Becky,  told me what Mama Sue wanted me to know before she passed, I knew it when I locked eyes with Philip after 16 years of not seeing each other.  I now know he has always loved me Mama Sue…I know.  What a magical journey it has been!

Advertisements

Hark Back

Like most people on the last day of 2018, I am reflecting on the year and setting intentions for 2019.  I had a hark back moment which returned me to the origin for a large chunk of my hurt this year.  I have grieved a friend who is still alive.  I am grieving a friendship that has ended or maybe has just hit a roadblock.  Whatever the outcome or finalization of this once deep and true friendship may be, I am letting it go.   The friendship is deeply rooted to my high school days and I honestly never thought it would be a friendship that landed where it has, at the end of this silent road.

This friendship is no longer an active part of my life and at no fault of no one in particular.  Well I guess maybe it’s perceived to be my fault because my friend does not support my decisions.  I don’t know but I’m no longer trying to figure out something that I cannot control. What I can say is that I’ve been honored in the knowing and crossing paths with this person and I wish them happiness and love.  Truly.  Maybe one day we will reconnect but I cannot hold on to the possibility of a maybe and rest assured in the knowing that it will flow like it once did.  I’m not certain that it can ever be the same again.  It is so very hard to say goodbye at the end of this road.

I’m excited for 2019 and growth in many aspects of my life.  I’ve got a few intentions written down so that I can turn them into a goal but I choose to keep those private.  I’ve never been a big resolution person.  I’ve always just wanted to grow and give more of myself each year and experience something new or different. Different, Better, More.  I hope 2019 brings you abundant love, happiness and good health.  Do something different, grow into a better you and give more of yourself to those that value your being.

 

Honoring

Today, May 24th, would have been Carlleena’s 39th birthday.  Something that goes unmentioned often in public is the realm in which you should honor or celebrate a deceased spouse.  Like…what is acceptable and what is not an acceptable form of honoring.  What time frame should you continue to honor? Everyone’s route through grief and mourning is different because the relationship to the deceased is unique to each person that knew her.  For me, I will always honor Carlleena in some way on the day she passed and the day of her birth. There is no right or wrong way to honor someone who has passed and there is no time frame.  Some might think you should only maintain that gesture for a few years or until you’ve moved on with a new love.  You may feel differently, but that’s not so in my case.  My belief is that while yes, Carlleena, is no longer here in the physical, I still feel her presence and I think of her daily.  She and I were part of each other’s lives since we were in the 8th grade!  We grew up together and grew in love and learned how to navigate life together.  I honor my mom and my nephew on their birthday’s also, so why wouldn’t I continue to honor Carlleena?!

That is not a relationship that just ends and is forgotten about since she is gone.  Some might wonder how my husband, Philip, supports my honoring her life and passing.  Does it make it uncomfortable for him? No it does not because he knows me, he believes in our love, he honors the symbolism and the woman I am because of my relationship with Carlleena.  The relationships I entered after Carlleena passed were met with a preface of, a picture of Carlleena will always be displayed, her art will always be displayed and her family will always remain my family.  If you can’t handle that now or if you have an inkling at any time that it may make you uncomfortable, then this is not going to work out.   I know some people who are in similar situations as me and it creates discomfort for the new love for pictures and memorabilia to be displayed after a spouse has passed.  Why would someone be jealous of a deceased spouse?  I know everyone has their own way of grieving and moving on, but there should be some honor displayed for the life that was created, nourished, and shared.  I am grateful to have reconnected with Philip.  His compassion and love are beyond amazing.

Carlleena loved strawberry cake.  She had it most years when she was a child and long into adult hood.    I never actually made Carlleena a strawberry cake for her birthday because her mom would often come visit around her birthday and would bring that strawberry cake along with her!  That was always such a heartfelt sentiment.  I remembered something from this day 6 years ago when we were preparing for Carlleena’s Celebration of Life.  I was in the kitchen that morning making Carlleena’s birthday cake!  I had the strawberries cut up, the flour in a bowl, eggs, and all the other baking necessities covering the island, making a mess.  About 15 minutes into Linda (Carlleena’s mom) watching my madness, she said “Marcy, what in the world are you doing?” I responded with “I’m making Carlleena’s strawberry birthday cake.”  She said “you make it from scratch?” and I questioned her back with “you don’t?”…we both busted out laughing at the realization that I thought she made that dang on strawberry cake from scratch all these years and come to find out that she often made a box cake.  It was a good, heartfelt laugh in the midst of a devastating, chaotic moment wrapped with love.

The Unexpected Heartbreak

When I was a little girl, I used to worry about losing my mom and dad.  I realize now that  these worries were bringing my empath nature to light.  I remember having such anxiety about being apart from my mom when I was in elementary school.  Any time I was sitting in class or out on the playground, if I would hear sirens or an ambulance I immediately worried that something had happened to my mom.  Why?  I really don’t know the root of this anxiety.  Maybe it has something to do with being the youngest child. Often times when I would hear the sirens, I would tell my teacher that I didn’t feel good and she would send me to the nurse.  In turn, the nurse would call  my mom and then once I heard my mom’s voice, I was better.  Not that I was really feeling sick in the first place, but I needed to make sure my mom was alright.  I wouldn’t make it a long drawn out story of my ailments, I would usually say that I had a headache and she would ask if it was bad enough that she needed to come get me or if I could make it through the day.  Majority of the time I could make it to the end of the day.
I was accepted to Meredith University for dance/choreography and I never attended after graduating from high school in 1997.  I didn’t want to leave my mom.  She urged me to attend and said that we would figure out the financial aid and paying for that form of education.  My heart changed my mind and I didn’t attend.  My spirit knew something was wrong with her and that she was sick.  I do not regret staying behind in my hometown and being there through a rough two years toward her passing.  I would have regretted not being there when she passed.  Carlleena urged me to go as well because her plans were to join the Air Force at that time.  Crazy how things changed and it makes me wonder if my action shifted the whole paradigm of not only my life but the lives of others.   I remember mom telling me a few times throughout our lives that when she dies, the earrings she wears will be mine.  They were her grandmothers and she inherited them when her grandmother died. They are simple, elegant diamond studs.  I always admired them and the power behind the notion that they were the only earrings my mom ever wore.

On October 18, 1999, my mom passed away.  She was 47.   She had not been feeling well for quite a few days before her death.  Once I learned that she was in the hospital, I called her and she sounded calm over the phone and she insisted that she was ok and the doctors were waiting on test results.  I was 20 at this time and lived with my mom still in the house that helped build me.  Carlleena was staying with me most nights during that time and when I got home from work that evening my gut told me to go to the hospital and check on mom.  Carlleena was hesitant to let me go because there was an impending tropical storm Irene off the coast of NC at that time.  It was messy outside with downpour and gusty wind.  I drove to the hospital by myself, as I wanted to go alone.  Carlleena was furious for that moment until I returned home safely a couple hours later.  My mom didn’t have any real news from the doctors when I showed up.  She was resting comfortably and was slightly upset that I drove in the downpour to see that she was ok.  I told her I only get one of you so I had to see for myself that you were ok. She chuckled a bit and smiled.  We didn’t say much and I exchanged forced pleasantries with her boyfriend who was there visiting.  I tried to mother her and find the one thing she needed that I could get for her.  There was nothing she physically needed.  We exchanged I love you’s and kisses on the cheek.  I hung out in the hall way pacing for another 30-45 minutes before I actually left the hospital.

The next morning  I received a phone call early and the voice on the other line is a nurse from the hospital telling me that my mother’s heart has stopped and they have resuscitated her and she is on a breathing machine and someone needs to get here right away. What?!?!?!!?  I was panicked…I tried to call my oldest sister, Laurie and couldn’t reach her.    I called my sister Becky who lived 45 minutes away at the time.  She was on her way to the hospital.  Carlleena and I drove to Laurie’s house  to tell her the news since we couldn’t reach her by phone.  I assumed she would ride with us but she drove separately and she ended up making it to the hospital before we did.  I’m still not sure how she managed to make it there before us.  There was a little waiting room for family and I remember the nurse coming in and handing me all of mom’s jewelry.  I’m sure I looked dumbfounded as to why she had taken the jewelry off. In my heart my mom was going to be fine and wake up…My heart wouldn’t let me put the puzzle together completely.  My mind knew otherwise but the two were not meeting in the middle.   There was a stranger sitting a few seats away and she told me that it isn’t usually a good sign when they bring you the jewelry.  I listened to her story about how she felt when they brought her the wedding band from her husbands hand many years ago. I’m sure I cried a little bit for her too that day. I walked around outside and when I came  around the corner to where my mom’s room was, Laurie and Becky were hugging and crying and trying to console each other. I screamed NO with all my might and let my breathless self  be anchored to the floor, sobbing and screaming for my mom as if my cry could make that moment my time machine and change it all! Anyone standing nearby stopped and stared.  The majority of the rest of that day is a blur for the most part.  I don’t think we have ever hugged our dad so tightly when he flew in from the west coast. Though my mom and Dad had only been divorced a few years, they went to high school together and were married 25+ years!  I remember friends and family stopping by to express condolences.  Philip was one of them and that was actually the last time I saw or spoke to him until 2016.

I remember being the one to volunteer to pick Mikey up from school that day.  To delay the pain in him learning that his Granny had passed away, we made a stop to clean out my car.  Completely random and I’m not sure it really even needed to be cleaned. He liked to help me clean my car though.  Nikki was in pre K and I remember watching Laurie give Nikki a big hug when we picked her up, unaware of what her mother had just endured hours before. I guess although I’ve always been preparing my whole life at that point for my mom to be taken from earth, I truly wasn’t expecting that heartbreak that soon.  None of us were.  My mom died of Pneumonia with Septic Shock although her health was failing for many years prior.  Death isn’t something you can prepare for even though you may be aware of the impending fate.  Maybe that’s what they mean by the saying “expect the unexpected.”  She has been gone for 18 years. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her or wish for her to visit in my dreams.

My mom’s earrings are the only earrings I ever wear.  To wear anything else makes me feel like I am missing something much more grandiose than my memories can replay.

The Momentary Deafness to Life

On May 20, 2012, the universe was preparing an unknowing me for a life that  would pull the rug out from under me and then roll me up in it.  The universe made me a widow.   I was gifted the opportunity to write the obituary of my best friend, my life partner, my world and plan her celebration of life on her 33 birthday.  I consider this opportunity a gift because I was blessed to know her, love her and be loved by her.  Carlleena was my world for 16 years. I often think about all that I experienced during her immediate passing and compared those emotions to where I am in the Now.  This comparison makes me appreciative of my growth and strength.  I am thankful that I have chosen to live in my strength.

Imagine for a moment that you are engulfed in a state of complete happiness.  Whoever this person is that is giving you complete happiness, embrace them and feel the utter bliss and love and longing and the warmth. Now blink. This person is slowly fading off into the distance in front of you and you are reaching and reaching and reaching and reaching, trying with all your might to catch up to that person…you feel as if you are being physically held down with the strength of an army and your heart, arms, legs, head, toes, stomach are flailing around like a fish out of water. And then you are overcome with a shiver of coldness and then extreme heat from momentary anger.  My soul screamed and echoed in my hallowed being, sending tidal waves of disbelief through my body.  I was sure that everyone could hear my pain.  My heart felt like it was being strangled with a cord attached to memories and future dreams.   That is only the beginning of what I physically felt like when the doctor and nurse came to tell me …”I’m sorry, Carlleena didn’t make it. We did all we could do.”

My heart stopped, literally. That next heartbeat I knew would never have quite the same beat again. That next heart beat was deep and hollow…It physically felt like how a kick drum sounds.  I clenched my heart and I remember shaking my head hoping I was in a dream and I said “what?”…and the doctor repeated what I heard correctly the first time. What I remember after that are random and I’m pretty sure out of order moments. I am lucky to have had Uncle Kevin and my cousin, Andre, there with me when I got the news.  They are forever my teddy bears.   The phone calls I made… I remember most of them but some I don’t recall. Her mom was the first call I made. No words will ever be able to describe that moment. The wails, screams and no’s from the other end of the phone calls were devastating and to this day they are extremely vivid in my mind.  My tears were constant and in denial. I needed to see her to know it was real. It was real. I’ve read somewhere that when someone passes away, their hearing is the last sense to fade away…all I could whisper in her left ear was something we said to each other many times a day for the past 16 years…”I love you, I love you, I love you.”I would occasionally look around the room at people coming in thinking that I was in a dream and feeling numb.  Once I saw Carlleena and knew what happened, it was like I was in a momentary deafness to life.  It was like I literally heard nothing for hours…Just faces and slow motion movement.  I held her hand until the hospital staff told me that it was time to leave only letting go when I felt strong enough to stand to give someone a hug.  The stillness. The momentary deafness to my life.

I questioned every move I made from the date of her accident to her death.  I wondered if there was something I could have done better and had guilt for a very long time for it being Carlleena that passed away and not me, even though I wasn’t even in the accident with her.  I retraced my steps everyday but I didn’t miss a step.  I slept on the floor beside her for 19 nights (minus a couple when family visited and made me sleep upstairs) to help her up off of the couch or be there for whatever she might need.  Every night she told me to go sleep upstairs, but I refused.  Her studio was temporarily set up at our kitchen table until she was comfortable navigating into The ColorLab (our garage) by herself.  I remember returning from the hospital and walking in the house for the first time without her.  I vividly remember looking at the door knob acknowledging that this was the first of many emotionally torturous days ahead.  This was the first of many firsts without her.

When I arose from that silence, shaking off the negativity that wanted to linger, the world seemed so much bigger.  As odd as it may sound, I remember feeling more alive than ever before.  I carried her spirit within me and this energy aided in my journey.  This aliveness was from the understanding that my future dreams with her were universally depleted.  Our story (the whole book in my mind) within the book was already written but the last half of the book now had the pages ripped out!  Thoughts of “what am I supposed to do now” crossed my mind and I remember having feelings of confusion, disbelief and a complete aching in my heart.  I felt like I didn’t know who I was without her by my side. Even with so many beautiful family and friends around me, I felt so alone.

The momentary deafness to life continued until I realized that I had to move, move forward, move around, move on with life and I had to start stepping out of the comfort of the sanctuary that was our home.  I had to stop coming home from work and walking into the studio to see what she was painting.  I repeated that motion everyday for over 6 months to open the door to an empty studio.  I remember the day that I walked to the studio door, had my hand on the knob and I said no to myself and told myself out loud that Carlleena is not in there, she is only in my heart now.  I hit the door in anger, turned around and let my back and the door guide me to the floor.  I broke down but I did not open the door that day.  I had to live in my strength.  I had to move on.  In some ways I felt like I was the only one that had to move on in a sense of loving again.  No one was going to try to fill the void of losing Carlleena by finding another friend, sister, aunt, daughter, cousin, granddaughter, but I had to find love again.  That was a terrifying thought.

It was my task now to mindfully participate in life and add new pages to that book.  I’ll admit, there were many days when I literally did not feel like getting out of bed, but I always did.  I could hear Carlleena’s voice and her “can do” attitude kicking my booty out of the bed and back into life.  Plus, I’m a foodie, so I knew my chances of surviving too many hours with out food were slim lol.  To say I am grateful to have loved and been loved by such an amazing person is a grandiose understatement!  I still think of her everyday and I don’t think that will ever change.  To sit here five years after her passing I can honestly say that I know she is proud of the woman I’ve become and the life I’ve created.  What she and I created as we coexisted in this world together, will be carried with me always, as it is the foundation of so much love.  That love I now share with Philip and I am blessed that he is just as excited to honor Carlleena.

Live in your strength.  Be Resilient!

 

 

Vulnerability

I’ve been in a reflective mood lately.  I am enjoying my happy place and trying to comfort those in pain and uncertainty.  I realize that the key to making a change in your life is backed by the willingness to be vulnerable.  It’s not just about being vulnerable with others, but being vulnerable with yourself.  Think about that for a minute…

Vulnerability is the ability of being physically or emotionally wounded.  I believe we all are destined to be vulnerable beyond our own will at the feet of the universes plans.  If we choose to accept the vulnerability, we cannot change the outcome, but we can change how we live through that pain and how it shapes the rest of our lives.  I’ve been forced to feel vulnerable at the mercy of the universe by it taking away people that I never thought I’d lose in this life and even more so at a young age.   Those assaults to my vulnerability have created a giant of myself that I didn’t realize existed until it was literally shoved in my face.  I struggled to find my place in the world after back to back tragedy, but have emerged stronger, more grateful and surrounded with a knowing of peace and certainty.

Through my vulnerability I have uncovered a deeper self-love than anything I’ve known.  You have to lay the groundwork of self-love before a sturdy foundation can be built by a relationship, otherwise it may crumble.  I feel to be vulnerable is  an art form of sorts…being able to pull the deep roots/pain up toward the surface gives you the courage to stand in the light of humanity and say: here I am, this is who I am, this is what I’ve been through and walk in that strength knowing, without hesitation, that the potential for harm could be lingering because someone else doesn’t understand or can’t mirror your strength… But you will never know if you don’t give love another chance.  It’s hard to find someone who loves like you do if your doors are always locked.

Vulnerability takes a deeper meaning for me as having been a widow.  On one hand, I love harder because of being involved in the full life cycle of an amazing relationship…and on the other hand I am afraid to experience the pain of losing a partner again.  Then you throw in the empath aspect and I envision the pain that my partner could feel should I depart first and that creates a messy, emotional Marcy LOL.  I know people will say don’t worry about those thoughts, nothing is going to happen, but the honesty in me knows that all of these thought are valid.  These emotions stem from my personal experience and spiritual essence.  Those were moments, so I embrace them and I dance above those thoughts and remind myself of exactly how much life and love I have left to share with some other human being.  Why should I put my fortitude on the back burner to spare the heart possible pain.

This past year has been a beautiful whirl wind of trust in self and trust in others.  I exposed myself in honesty and purity holding the hand of vulnerability like best friends.  I took a leap and trusted the knowing in my spirit and I now am loving to a once incomprehensable degree.  I moved from NC to FL, got married and now am a bonus mom to an amazing 8 year old little lady! I will post more on how all of that came about in a later post.  Had I not been willing to share my vulnerability, I would not be where I am today.  This serves as encouragement to those that may be in a situation where your vulnerability is overwhelming and uncomfortable, that if you don’t embrace and share your vulnerability, you could miss out on some phenomenal moments.

Be Resilient!

img_7969img_5552img_8159

Ana Ono

In May, 2015, I had the privilege to model in a lingerie show by a designer that creates for breast cancer patients, survivors, and non survivors.  Dana’s line is truly amazing.  It is sexy and supportive.   The intricate detail I love most is that she is a survivor also and the craftsmanship of the product is stellar.    I remember seeing a post on Facebook in the Young Breast Cancer survivor group I am part of stating that they are in need of survivor models.  I read the post way too many times before I reached out to Dana of Ana Ono and expressed interest.  After doing so, I was nervous but felt liberated.  I was going to be walking in lingerie in front of a crowd of people that I didn’t know, with the exception of some very dear friends…I thought to myself, what have I agreed to lol?  The whole experience was amazing!  The drawn out process of waiting to get in to hair and makeup, learning how we will line up and strut our stuff was so exciting.  There were tears, nervous jitters, connections made and strength built upon as we walked in our courage and vulnerability. There is an unspoken sisterhood amongst survivors.  It truly was a memorable night.   Proceeds from the event that evening were donated to http://www.jillswish.org.  I encourage you to visit the website and support.  Also, please check out Dana’s creations at http://www.anaono.com

Ana Ono featured me as one of their survivor guests a while back and posted my story on their website:

I am Marcy.  My name means “War Like” so I guess I was predestined to be a warrior!  My journey through breast cancer is not only one of survival, but one of reconnecting with myself.  I was diagnosed with stage 1 triple positive breast cancer on May 29, 2013 at the age of 34.  This diagnosis came 9 days after the one-year anniversary of my wife of 16 years passing away unexpectedly.  My diagnosis was generated from an instinctive feeling that something just didn’t feel right.  Lying down on that side or my stomach felt different…I never felt a lump.  As I embraced my diagnosis and continued to pick up pieces of my shattered heart, I felt a momentary sense of defeat…but only for a second.  I remember asking myself “why is all of this happening to me?” and then immediately answering myself with a why not?  It was at that moment that I decided to take these challenges as a compliment and that I may have cancer but cancer never had me.

To have lost someone that I deeply loved and grew with for over half of my life felt like I lost part of myself.  Knowing I was going to face cancer without her was undoubtedly the most heart wrenching part of this journey.  My treatment consisted of a biopsy, a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 accelerated radiation treatments, Herceptin injections and I refused to let any of them knock me down.  The road wasn’t easy but I know it could have been much worse. There were many tears, as crying is important in letting out the thoughts and feelings that float around as private literature in my spirit.  Some days are just filled with crying.

Even though I was able to “save” my breasts, there is a physical difference between them that causes a slight interference in my confidence.  Shopping for clothing that makes me feel sexier became a challenge. Shirts that reveal cleavage sometimes show my dimpled biopsy site and scar and I’m sure no one really notices it, but I know its presence.  Shopping for bras was a disappointment because one side fits perfect while the other could use a little more support. I am in love with the AnaOno bras that I own and the passion behind this product makes me feel more empowered as a woman and as a survivor!

Side effects from treatment linger and while some may be temporary, others could be life long.  I have always been a healthy and active person that enjoys running, yoga and all things outdoors but these activities after treatment remind me to be patient with myself…really patient.  I tire more easily and deal with peripheral neuropathy and healing pain associated with scars and scar tissue, and for someone who loves to run, clumsy tingly feet literally keep me on my toes.  I battled with food and the decisions of should I eat this, is this bad for me, I shouldn’t have too much of this or too much of that.  I still battle with those thoughts, but I remind myself that I find joy in great food and I will allow the not so healthy foods to provide comfort in moderation.  Reoccurrence anxiety is something that can take hold of my emotions and cause stress in an unexpected capacity some days.  While I don’t fully accept reoccurrence as my reality, I don’t deny it as a possibility.  Instead, I embrace what life chooses to do through me while remaining gratefully humble.  Life as a young widow and a young survivor creates a class act of self-doubt and a potentially sabotaging thought process for me when it comes to dating.  Here I am, with beautiful scars wrapped in an unfamiliar desire to share my vulnerability in trying to figure out the dating scene in my thirties…definitely a work in progress.  Obviously I maintain my sense of humor within this dating territory because some days all I can do is laugh.

Bonds were found and molded together through my breast cancer journey and the authenticity of family and friendships remain unbroken.  Their unwavering support is priceless.  I found a young breast cancer survivor group, Carolina Breast Friends, here in Charlotte that provides a heartfelt connection.  The strength and courage of these women is truly inspiring. It is important to maintain a sisterhood of shared experience and the comfort through similar pain reminds us all to breathe. Some days that’s all we need to do…just breathe.

So my survivor skills are on point and through all of this I found a new artistic avenue and a restored spirit.  I collage random items like tables, bowls, frames, and cigar boxes and have found therapy in the whole process.  My art reflects the dynamic layers of my life infused with healing energy.  My diagnosis was a catapult of a grand spiritual reconnection to myself in which I continue to nourish daily. I became a Reiki practitioner after receiving Reiki as part of my therapy before undergoing surgery and I have been amazed.  I have dreams to remember and fulfill…and who knows, I may get all this private literature out for the world to read one day.

Through cancer, I was shoved out of a familiar place within my grief only to emerge for the world to see my strength for the second time around.  It has realigned me to my purpose in life and I feel as though I belong to myself again because I now understand the capacity of my fortitude and resilience.  There is too much war in the words of my silence, so I will continue to share my story by walking in my vulnerability, nurturing a stronger side of myself, and hoping to inspire those open to receive.  I love my scars and will let them serve as a reminder of my resilience in this beautiful kaleidoscope life as I continue to live in my strength.

I will be walking in another fashion show for Ana Ono here in Charlotte on September, 24. I hope you can make it out to support!