Coming Home


It was good news.  I let out a deep, soulful breath, unaware that I hadn’t actually been breathing (or so it seemed) for who knows how long.

But I didn’t cry.  At least, not then.

Four days later, I cried.  I laid down on my bed and wept as if I was being told for the first time that I have cancer.  I cried for my life; past, present, and future.  I cried for everything that cancer has taken away from me, and everything that I’ve gained in the last two years.

The last three weeks I have been doing a Deepak Chopra meditation on gratitude and grace.  But I couldn’t feel it, the gratitude, and it began to scare me.  I consider myself a very thankful person; deeply in touch and very cognizant of all that I have, my blessings and the love in my life and the fact that things could be so much worse.  But meditating every night I just couldn’t get in touch with that feeling of appreciation.  I felt numb.  I began to worry that one of the most important things that has been holding me up in my life may be fading.

And then I had my scans and heard that things are stable, thank g-d, and four days later I cried, and the gratitude flooded my body in a way that I can’t even describe, but it was beautiful. 

It felt like coming home.

So I kept crying.  I shed tears for the fact that I will never walk the same path as anybody else.  I crumpled to the floor with the truth that I may never have children.  I acknowledged that I will live, most likely, always wondering if and when the cancer may return.  I live with hope, optimism, strength and compassion, but I live with fear.  It has a place inside of me, and I don’t think that it will ever quite disappear.  I need to learn how to live with the fear, don’t I?  If I try to pretend like it doesn’t exist, will I ever truly be myself?  Will I ever be able to heal from the disappointments?  To set my sights on my dreams and go after them?  Because I’m still me.  I still have dreams, and I still intend to live them out.

And then I cried for what I know is true:  That I am loved.  So deeply.  And that I love, also as deeply.

So I let myself cry in the hopes of healing and I let myself cry for the goodness that lives even in the face of such fear.

And that, my friends, is cancer.


For Teddy Bear


Aloha my dear friends!  Did you think that I went to Hawaii and decided not to come back?  No no, I love you all too much.  (Well that and it’s wicked expensive to live there!).  I know that it’s been a fortnight times like four since I’ve written, and I’ve missed the connection for sure.

But here’s the thing:

First, I was burned.out.  I’m talking fried, stick a fork in me, could barely get out a coherent sentence, cried at the drop of a hat burned out.  Job + anxiety around some health issues (stomach, which I mentioned in the last blog, TMI?) + job + bills + job (did I already say that one?  Oh, three times, you say?!) = BURNED OUT.  OK, you get the picture.

Second, our computer broke!  I know, can you believe it?  Well in all fairness to the computer (may he rest in peace), it was over 5 years old.  And SHL has a laptop that I tried to do some writing from, but it was so slow that I almost threw it out the window!

Third, and hardest of all, our beloved cat Teddy (a.k.a. Teddy Bears and Theodore occasionally for fun) passed away.  I cannot even begin to put into words how devastating this has been for SHL and me.  We are a family.  SHL, myself, Teddy and Riley, our other insanely cute and frisky and wonderful kitty.  And while I never, ever (ever) thought that I would be a cat person (as much as I love all animals, I grew up with dogs), I truly am a crazy cat lady, and proud of it.  But basically, we were in a worried state for a while about his health, though not knowing just how serious it was, but concerned that he wasn’t acting like himself (he wasn’t able to open his mouth up all the way, seemed lethargic, etc.).  After being on antibiotics and tests and vet appointments, we took him to an animal hospital about an hour away and dropped him off for the day (heart breaks) for more serious tests, like a CT scan.  The doctor wasn’t supposed to call us until later in the day, so around lunchtime when my cell phone rang, I knew that it wasn’t good.

I rushed home to be with SHL and she broke it to us:  Two types of cancer.  One was eye cancer (how strange, considering that I had eye cancer, found out that it’s not quite as uncommon in cats as it is in people, but still), and one a very serious and aggressive form of cancer leading up from his jaw up to his ear.  The only other thing that they could have done for him at that point, because they couldn’t get a feeding tube into his mouth due to his jaw being in so much pain, was to do a surgery to put a feeding tube into his stomach, then do a course of radiation, which at the most would only give him a couple of more months.  It wasn’t even a question; we knew that we would never, ever put him through that kind of pain and suffering.  So we did what you do when you love somebody/something in pain:  You let them go.

We drove back to the hospital and said goodbye.  We told him all the things that we felt we needed to say; just how much joy, love, and companionship he had given us over these last six years, how we never could have ever, ever asked for a better pet, and how we would talk about him and love him and think about him and never, ever forget him.  Then he put his head in my lap.  We held him and stroked him and cried and then he was gone.  Our little Teddy Bear.  I miss coming home and opening up the basement door and having him waiting there on the steps for me, just like a little dog (OK, he mainly just wanted to be fed, but I always knew that he was very happy that I was home, too, because he would always come to find me for some TLC once he was done eating).  I miss coming down the stairs in the morning and seeing him strewn out in his little kitty bed on the couch in the family room, with not a kitty care in the world.  I miss him curling up with me right in my nook when we’d watch TV, purring, always purring.  I miss watching him curl up on SHL’s chest, nuzzle his face, then stretch and camp out in that cozy spot for the night. Those that knew Teddy knew that all you’d have to do was look in his direction, and he would purr.  He was there for me through my cancer treatment, sat with me, nuzzled me, let me talk to him and cry on him (he never cared when I got tears on him, amazingly enough) and basically, just gave me exactly what it is that pets so often do:  Unconditional love.  He never told me to stop crying or judged me for having that piece of chocolate or not working out.  He never told me to go to therapy.  He was my therapy.

Teddy Bear

So I have been a little bit off the grid due to all of these factors, but now I just want to connect words with paper (i.e. the computer) or more importantly, connect with all of you.  So I’m writing a quick note from my office here at work (shhh, don’t tell anybody!) that I will try to post when nobody is looking. :)

I definitely hit a little bit of a wall back in May/June.  I was having some health issues as you all know with my stomach (still not exactly clear what’s going on) that was making it difficult to juice, exercise, or just basically feel like myself.  I started to feel sad, depleted, and was having a hard time nourishing myself physically and mentally.  It is just amazing how much the mind and body are connected, and it was a true testament to how feeling physically sick can affect you emotionally.

Luckily enough though in the middle or so of June I got a suggestion from my doctor that at least for the time being has put a band-aid on the problem.  I know that I still need to figure out the root cause and other ways to treat it, but I have to say, I was so relieved that SHL and I could go on our vacation and I could feel well enough to eat, play, and truly let go and relax!  Here we are, celebrating early our 5 year wedding anniversary at the amazing Banyan Tree Restaurant!

Sam and Sean

Maui was just what I (and we) needed.  Sun, sand, drinks, fresh fruit, smoothies, pool time, beach time, gym time, you get the Hawaiian picture.  Speaking of pictures, check out this pic from our drive all the way up Haleakala Volcano to see the sunrise.  We woke up at 1:30am and got there a little after 4am, then slept in the car for an hour, then watched the sun slowly breathe its way into the day at around 5:45am. SunriseIt was truly magnificent!

Other highlights of the trip included not working, massages (out on a deck listening to the birds sing), seeing turtles pop their cute little heads up above the waves, not working, food trucks, swimming at night, celebrating an early anniversary with dinner and champagne, tiki torches, leis, not working, driving along the coast exploring untouched beaches, taking naps, playing Kadima, meditating on the beach, the coffee, seeing the sun being born above Haleakala, then driving down the mountain and eating French toast at the Kula Lodge hugging the mountainside overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui mountains (I love the fact that Maui has all of these different terrains on just that one island!).  Oh, and not working.

Sam with the sunriseHawaii beachSam and Sean at Honu


So while I still stand by the fact that none of us really get as much vacation time as we should, I don’t take this beautiful time away from home for granted.  It felt great to unplug from the rest of the world , recharge my batteries, re-connect w/ SHL, breathe in the fresh Hawaiian air, turn off my alarm clock, drink a Pina colada (gasp!), swim, sleep, and maybe best of all, just rest.  Resting is not overrated, my friends, and whether you decide to travel anywhere or not, I highly recommend that you think about taking some time—especially this summer– to just slow…it…down… and rest!

And wherever we go, to the ends of the earth, we will always love you, our Teddy Bear.

Peace, love and beautiful Hawaiian leis,

Sam xoxo

Sam not leaving HawaiiSad face at leaving Maui, I refuse to take my lei off!