Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making pediatric cancer history

"There's a part of me that prays, I'll wake up some sweet day, over you."

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

I painted my toenails gold because the ribbon color for all childhood cancer is gold.

Please forgive the quick iPhone selfie.

To recognize and honor those who are fighting pediatric cancer, across the country there are Beads of Courage events planned, where bead makers get together at studios to make beads and the public is invited to see demos and learn more about the BOC program. BOC provides beads for cancer treatment milestones, empowering each affected child a tangible way to remember and tell the story of their treatment journey.

On Friday I made 30 peace sign beads for BOC. I used a lot of my shorts and leftover bits of stringer and twisty, going for that random '60s tie-dye look.

Another quick and dirty iPhone shot.

The only Texas BOC event is in Fort Worth on Sept. 21, at SiNaCa Studios, and you know, you don't have to twist my arm very much to go to Fort Worth and see this little butterbean.

Poor Butterbean has a monster mosquito bite on his sweet face.

I'd already signed up to be on the Tucson team "from a distance" and hadn't fully decided to go to Fort Worth, but I asked one of the BOC coordinators if I could be on both teams. She emailed the Fort Worth studio and within hours I got the nicest note from the studio, enthusiastically inviting me to join them and telling me they'd have a torch for me to work on for as much of the day as I wanted to spend there.

As of now, i'm on the fence about going. It's Butterbean's weekend with his dad, but maybe we can get him back early and I can get in some more hugs and kisses and hear him giggle.

Also, I have an unanticipated tight deadline for an article I've been asked to write for Glass Bead Evolution.

I have to laugh, because I heard from Ashley, the BOC coordinator, again last Friday. She had asked the studio for four Dream Beads, but there was only one of the request beads, a seashell, that anyone at the studio felt able to make.

She asked me if I could make the other three Dream Beads.
For Ethan, a white and black Stormtrooper from Star Wars.

For Anna, Minnie Mouse with a hot pink bow on her head. Minnie wears a hot pink dress with white polka dots along with hot pink heels.

For Tucker, his favorite hero, Buzz Lightyear.
I hate to say no. I want to be superwoman, I want to be known as the girl who can make any bead.

Here's what I said.
I want to say yes so badly. I can try. If they don't have to be sculptural, I can definitely do Minnie Mouse in relief on a base bead. I had to look up Storm Trooper and Buzz Lightyear. Can it just be their heads/faces? That would be a lot easier for me.
Ashley responded.
Oh how awesome! Yes, you can do them on a base bead, don't have to be sculptural. Let me know what you come up with and I'll call in some backup if need be.

So on Tuesday, here is what I am going to be attempting to make. In hot glass.

Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it. Pictures soon.

If there was a day in my life that I could do over, it would be Friday, Aug.3, 2001, the morning after Marty said he couldn't be with me. I'm not saying things would have turned out differently or even that things didn't turn out for the best in the long run anyway. I just could have spared myself the most profound remorse, shame, guilt and grief in the short run.

In pain and confusion, I turned to Robin, as my good friend, for support. On instant messenger I told him everything, about Mary, about Marty telling me that he was a good writer and that I was a needy woman. To the last comment, Robin responded, has he looked in a mirror lately?

Robin suggested (and I didn't disagree) that Marty was drawn to unavailability and drama and afraid of intimacy and commitment. Robin also made the comment that a narcissist always wakes up with his lover. I said that Marty had been careless with my heart.

Robin kept reiterating that I was worthy and deserving of real love, that Marty wasn't worth it and that someone else better would come along. I kept saying that it wasn't about finding someone else, it was about me being OK, just me. I assured Robin I wasn't giving up all hope. I even made a joke about not having to shave my legs every day.

But here is the unutterably stupid thing I did next. I logged the chat and sent it to Marty. I don't know what insanity prompted my action, a sleepless night, shock, anguish, vindictiveness? It had something to do with the messy way our conversation had gone the night before, when I was a sobbing hot mess. In some madly misguided way, I was trying to tell him that I would be fine. No matter that that was a lie, I wanted him to think so.

He was livid. He fired this at me.
Liz, what the HELL did you hope to accomplish by sending me this???

You tell me you can be strong, but then you show me this.... this indulgent litany and his fawning drivel. He’s still in love with you, Liz, that’s crystal clear - and under the circumstances, what he has to say about you and me is full of shit and self-serving in its own way.

Enjoy that.... because after reading this crap, how on earth do you expect me to ever rejoin you and be comfortable with having him in OUR life?????

You wrote a few interesting e-mails of your own, and one message I recall distinctly was, “Marty, I’m tired of being the responsible one.... I want to stay with you... etc etc etc.” It was wonderful, and I loved it.... it was anesthetic at a time when I was hurting. Don’t accuse me of being reckless with your heart when you were so willing to plunge in yourself.

Jesus..... You two are a pair. Have a nice life.
Before I could stop reeling, he fired again.
After all is said and done, I guess you and Robin should understand more than either of you admits what it’s like to live the fantasy life of a long distance relationship. Pretty hard to let go, isn’t it, despite the lonely days and nights?

Obviously, the two of you never did, so both of you can stop your sanctimonious prattling about how MARTY must be afraid of intimacy because he’s pushing you away for Mary. Bullshit. Marty’s had real intimacy, and I’m still drawn to the woman who shared it with me.

Liz, you’ll get over the pain - but not if you keep taking narcotics of the sort Robin’s pushing!!

We’ve had some sensitive conversations that should have stayed between us - you should know better than to think someone who’s still in love with you is going to be an objective sounding board, and I’d hope you’d respect me AND your once/future lovers by keeping our sensitive conversations between the two of us.

I can’t pretend I don’t have or never had feelings for you. But this little landscape in your world is too bizarre for me to feel like living there.
I told my boss that I wasn't feeling went, went home and spend the afternoon in bed.

Re-reading what Marty said today, more, objectively, some of the sting I felt then is missing from his words. At the time, they were unbearable. Have a nice life. I couldn't get past that. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, I had expunged what slender hope I might have buoyed myself up with.

If I'd been a little clearer-headed, I might have absorbed his other words, I can’t pretend I don’t have or never had feelings for you.

All I could see was the egregiousness of my crime through his eyes.

Late that evening, I wrote him a letter of penitence.
You have every right to be furious with me.

I acknowledge the enormity of the wrongness of my actions. I breached privacy and trust by examining what happened between you and me with someone else in intimate detail.

I insufferably compounded the heinousness of that transgression by sending the chat log to you in an act of selfish egotism and heartless vindictiveness and utter disregard for every principle I try to live by.
I'm not a bad writer myself really, although perhaps the adjectives were aggrandized and the self-flagellation overdrawn.

I continued.
Yes. It was drivel and full of shit and self-serving crap - all of it. I have been so determinedly blind to what you saw so clearly. Robin is still in love with me and I am not and never again will be in love with him. And what kind of unbiased counsel can he ever give me as a friend under the circumstances?

(Any more than you should pay the least bit of heed to any evaluation of your psyche I have ever made, because of my own conflicted agenda).

You also are dead right in saying I was willing to plunge in to a reckless relationship - yes, I was. What I said was this: "For once, I don't want to be the sensible one. Marty, if you want me to stay with you, I will. I want the rest too, though, the love, the happiness, the relationship."

I took a huge risk and I did it with conscious carelessness for my own heart. The prize, the promise, seemed worth the gamble.

I have to now accept that I have earned your disrespect and disgust. I would give anything to take today back and do it over, better.

How can I ask you to forgive me when I am miles and miles away from being able to forgive myself?
That was Friday night. I didn't have the courage to look at my email again until Sunday night, when I got this.
Okay.... Liz. Start by forgiving yourself. Stand up on your own two feet. You can do it. You can fucking FLY - if you want to. You don't need to be dependent on anyone. Not even me. Start there. The rest will be easy.
None of it was easy.

I muscled on through the following bitter days.

On the support message board, after getting his last note, I posted.
I have not responded. I am fighting the need to keep the contact going.

I know it is a slender thread to hang hope on.

But he did keep the dialog going.

He did react with emotion and not intellect.

The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.

So, if he doesn't give a rat’s ass, why would he react so vehemently?

And if he is attracted to drama, well I have sure created drama - although not necessarily a healthy sort.
I was barely functioning. I woke up with panic waves and a profound sense of loss, and I carried the heartache around with me all day. The only time I didn't hurt was when I was asleep.
Does it get better? Sure. I know I won't always feel like this. I also know that it may be months before I feel whole again. Crawling out of the muck, centimeter by centimeter, takes a while.
About a week after Marty's last note, after much deliberation and vacillation, I sent him a reply. I wanted to let my last e-mail to him not be a hysterical one. I wanted to let him know that I had begun the process of self-forgiveness. I wanted to reclaim a little strength after my last semi-groveling message.

Before I sent my note to Marty, I sent this one to my mom (who was adamant that I should put Marty behind me and never look back).
I'm leaving it totally open, no response required. I say my piece. Then I focus on other things. Leave the door cracked about as much as it was cracked but don't go back and tap on it again any time soon.
This was my letter to Marty.
Landscapes can be changed. Mine, yours ...

It is paradoxical that some of your anger was about my relationship with a once - but not future - lover. Both he and I have let go of the romance. It is possible for Eros to metamorphose into Agape.

I do know that I crossed boundary lines in sharing what I shared. I'm human too. Perhaps nothing is unforgivable (except not learning from our mistakes), and anything that impels one to strive to be a better person is not a wasted experience.

So, I am working on self-forgiveness and standing on my own two feet. Figuring out the differences between being emotionally needy and being a lovely and hungry soul.

Marty, I hope that you are okay. It would mean something to me to know that you are able to get past the anger. I'd still like to think you remember me in our happiest times, as I will remember you.

That's all.
I expected no reply, and I got none. This is the beginning of my story.

"I put a candle in the window
Then take a picture from the wall
Avoid all the places we'd go
Then wait around on your call

There's a part of me that wishes
All my dreams come true
And a part of me that prays
That I'll wake up someday over you

I throw a penny in the river
Thinking that I'll bring you home
Then throw another right behind her
Hopin' that you don't

There's a part of me that wishes
That all my dreams come true
And a part of me that prays
I'll wake up some sweet day over you."

(Tony Arata, performed by Suzy Bogguss)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz