I know it’s throw back Thursday, not throw UP Thursday, but I just got a phone call from my oncologist’s office, letting me know that it’s time for my quarterly check-up…and I almost tossed my cookies (or in this case, nachos). Happens every time. That first chemo cocktail I downed six years ago yesterday, waking up with my first chemo hangover six years ago TODAY… has. left. it’s. mark. on. me. Besides the port scar. Which I had a big c (namaste _/_ Laura Linney) tattooed on—copyright that cancer.
Anyway, so this past weekend I went to a Jen Pastiloff Manifestation retreat in Ojai, California. It was a gift from the hubcap aka Mr. Joules, for my 6 year cancerversary, which I just celebrated August 20th. Now, this is a thing that drives my Redheads bOnKeRs (because they keep their “letters to Santa” constantly updated on Google docs) but I don’t have a list. Mostly because I already feel so lucky that I can’t even imagine what else in the world I could possibly ask for. But I asked for this because I felt I could use a little inspiration boost(er) before my 6-year check up this coming Monday.
One of the exercises she had us do at the retreat is the inspiration for today’s #tbt pic/post. This is where I feel like it’s only fair to give you a #CheeseAlert—so you might want to go pour a glass of wine to go with the cheese I’m about to throw down not up for throw back Thursday.
The exercise I’m referring to, was a writing prompt. The writing prompt flowed from a series of yoga poses. Somewhere in the ebb and flow of the yoga poses and the writing prompts, a beautiful breakdown occurs in places that were a little stuck. All the “I would/could/should/did/didn’t/have to/can’t excuses we all make. Something in the way she makes us do all those hi-YAH! kicks, makes us feel like we’re knocking down walls. (And we did.) Also, all those planks rendered our arms incapable of being raised, even an inch, to point out even one of those lame ass excuses that we all make for not manifesting aka “making shit happen” (the good kind) in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I have a boatload of excuses in my head. So many voices in my head. And way too freaking often, I hear them calling, “All aboard!” Next thing I know, I’m sailing away on a yacht called Hotel California where “you can check out anytime but you can never leave”.
Which is why it’s always a good idea to keep the voices in our head in check. Or, check-mate, as it so happened, for me during this particular exercise. The writing prompt was to write a letter to ourself in the voice of someone who loves us.
“If you knew who walked beside you at all times, on the path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again.”~Wayne Dyer
This is one of Jen’s themes. It’s also one of the magical things that happens at her workshops and retreats, when you look around the room at the beautiful souls who walked beside you through the weekend, and beyond.
I wrote my letter, to myself, in the voice of my husband. And here’s where the cheese enters. But not, as you might suppose, just because I’m the one stringing together said cheese. The truth of the matter is: Dave is just as cheesy as me. I was only channeling him, or I guess you could say, being the grater. Here’s a little slice (and no, I didn’t cut it) of the cheese:
Dear Joules, my jewel, wife of my youth and, I hope—NO. I know. Yes, darling, I know you have trouble seeing that far ahead, into the future, but I know. I know like I know Jesus loves me, and you, that we will be old together one day, like the couple in UP—but we won’t wait to chase our dreams. We are not waiting. The chase is on! And what. a. ride… Go ahead and put your hands up in the air. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t shave. I’m over here right next to you. I got you. Like I vowed when we were 22. And I believe you’ll still love me when I’m 64. And beyond. Even if you can’t see that far. I can see. This I know. I know enough for the both of us.
I forgot to sign it but I think I nailed it, and I have proof. I’ve been celebrating my 6 year cancerversary with this six part series of a half a dozen chapters from my book, SHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL, and there just so happens to be a chapter that Dave wrote for me. Kinda like a letter in the voice of someone who loves me…
[Cue my fave band Over the Rhine. Click HERE to hear the song that is the soundtrack to this chapter.]
And by drunkard, I mean to give the microphone here to Dave (while I take a little break to pour another glass of wine) because he’s the one who got stuck with a handful of “in sickness” and “for worse” chips. If I were to write a six-word memoir, it would be Sorry I Cashed “In Sickness” Chips. And the sequel would be, I Hope It’s “For Better” Now. Anyway, without further ado . . . Dave.
Joules (or as I call her, Joule, for short, which I prefer to spell Jewel, if you don’t mind) is a sucker for Shakespeare. I am a sucker for my Jewel. A + B = C. It’s simple math, really. I believe even she could figure that one out and with one hand tied behind her back. Even if it’s the one with that little finger she’s got me wrapped around.
All that to say, I like Shakespeare too. Once I stood up on a bench in the middle of Borders and recited Sonnet 116 to her—it’s one of our favorites of his sonnets. And it goes, something like this… ahem:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Shakespeare wrote, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Surely he had not considered “the remover” to be a breast surgeon, nor “Time’s sickle” to be a scalpel, nor the compass of Time’s sickle to encompass his love’s breasts.
We’re not talking wrinkles, gray hair, and a little extra weight here. This is serious alteration. But when it came down to them or her, clearly they had to go.
I admit, initially I told myself that this will be a good thing. There will be reconstruction. My wife will be perky in her old age. But looking into the details, it quickly became obvious that this was not an option either of us wanted. But I have found, in true love, that there is a breastliness that transcends the physical and is more tangible than the flesh.
The only real difference this alteration has brought is that when we embrace, our hearts are that much closer together.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” As I gaze on her even now, I hear my heart say, “Well then, Will, this must be love.”