Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yellow Bracelets

Lance Armstrong won his seventh Tour de France today. She wears his yellow bracelet to remind her of what she needs to do, after having gotten it as a gift from her daughter. “LiveStrong” is written on it and it is a concrete reminder to her of what she needs to do, to make a new life for herself.

The wearing of the yellow bracelet is also an important reminder to her of the very roundabout way that she came to this point in her life. She’s been moving in this direction for a long time, only she just had no conscious realization of it.

Many years ago she had a sister. When she was thirty, her sister died after trying to beat the hell out of Hodgkin’s disease. If anyone could have cured themselves on will alone, it was her sister Regina. There was no negative talk about not surviving, there were no final *good-bye’s*…. as she wasn’t leaving. She had chemo up until the day before she died, always with the hope that it would change the course of this disease that was killing her. Her sister was one of the first people ever to have had her bone marrow harvested while it was still healthy, and given back to her in the form of a bone marrow transplant when she did not respond to conventional treatment; when it became apparent that she was not in the 98% of people who were treated and cured of Hodgkin’s.

Her sister’s death was one of the single most defining moments in her life, when she thinks that subconsciously she realized that she didn’t have a life, not really. Sure, she was someone's wife, but that wasn’t going very well at the time…and yes, she was the mother of two children who she cared for and loved dearly….but who was she really? What defined her as a person? This defining moment in her life set her on a course that has lead her to where she is today. Sometimes a mess because she’s impatient with the process, certainly lonely at times, occasionally overwhelmed, and yet, still oddly happy. She’s amazed as she sits here and writes this, that she can say she is “oddly happy”. Especially tonight, when being “oddly happy” is a struggle. She is still hoping to be completely happy one day too, and knows its part of this process that she dislikes so very much.

According to her counselor, she should be enjoying this whole *getting a new life* process. Joan tells her that people make the most progress when they are trying to work out these dramatic changes…make these transitions and come to places that they can then be happy in. When that happens, she wants to sit back and coast for a while….because she thinks this is way too much work. Right now, she just wants it all to be done and she wants the *happy life*…she wishes it just wasn’t so hard to get. Sure, as compared to the lives of many other people, she should feel grateful. After all, she’s alive…. and she’s in good health…. and her family loves her and supports her…but she still needs the yellow bracelet as a reminder that no matter how hard this is, she needs to “LiveStrong”.

After the death of her sister she found her way to hospice. It became an outlet for her grief. Her work with hospice lead her back to school; back to a college career she had pretty much flunky out of many years earlier. It’s amazing what a few more years of maturity and a concrete goal can do for your GPA. If not for her first college career, she would have graduated with her two year degree and a 3.9 GPA. Not too shabby she thinks.

Going back to college is where the transformation to becoming this person she is today began. It gave her confidence that she had never had in the past. It made her realize that she had opinions that mattered to people. It made her realize that she was bright, and that she could do things that would never have occurred to her in previous years. It made her feel like she existed in the world. It was, and is, an amazing feeling, even today.

Her sister’s death just shy of age 24 made her realize that she wanted more in her life, and it gave her the confidence that she needed in order to go out and find it. She still wants more in her life. Hell, she wants it all….she wants everything. After all, let us not forget that she is also a *Goth Woman* and they are “single minded in their quest for whatever it is they seek”. But, this Goth Woman still needs the symbolism the yellow “LiveStrong” bracelet provides for her. It reminds her that she still needs to go to the gym, even when she doesn’t really feel like it. It reminds her that when things are not going her way, she needs to find a way to deal with them and move on. It will help her focus on getting through Statistics, which she needs in order to finally obtain her Bachelor’s Degree...and finally, it reminds her of how hard her sister fought to live and that what she is doing now, is nothing compared to that.

Today Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, won his seventh Tour de France. If Lance could accomplish a feat such as this, with the help of his yellow bracelet, she should be able to make her new life a reality too. She just wishes that her new life would happen sooner…oops…she keeps forgetting, this is her new life, bumps, bruises and all…..it’s a good thing she has this yellow bracelet.

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