She’s Bad News

cloudIt’s nothing new. I imagine I was never exactly ‘good news’ to my family – starting with the way I came into this world. It’s not like my parents were expecting me, all excited, with a decorated bedroom. They were not married. In fact, I didn’t meet my biological father until I was 26 – and it was my choice, not his. And the day I met him, he probably still thought I was ‘bad news.’

I was trouble to some people, but to others, like my grandmother, I was the rainbow in her world. She welcomed me with open arms despite my being a ‘little incident’. Overall I was a very happy child growing up. And it was mostly thanks to her. (My biological mother did not raise me but she worked hard to help support me.)

Then there was catholic school.

“No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord,” sol Hilda the nun read to us in class. Until this day, I am not sure what story was told to the nuns about my origins, but somehow I got into their school. Maybe the money my family gave (what little they had) spoke louder than Deuteronomy.

Although no one ever said to my face that I was ‘bad news’, the culture in my home country labeled me that.

Later, as a young teenager moving to New York City, without the language and without the people who raised me, there were more bad news situations — but those stories are for another day.

What has me thinking about all of this is my most recent development.

As some of you already know, a while ago I underwent genetic testing to see if there was a genetic cause of my cancer. At first I was hesitant because I was worried about how I would react to knowing the results. At the same time, I wanted answers as to why I got cancer at such a young age, with the awareness that genetics probably wasn’t the only thing that contributed. I guess I was looking for some level of control (you never get that with cancer).

Learning about my genetic composition has helped me reach some closure about my diagnosis. This may be related to the fact I was diagnosed before finding out about my mutated gene. But I often wonder — if I had known about this genetic predisposition prior to my diagnosis, would I have reacted to my cancer any differently? I will never know.

I believe knowledge is power. That is why I decided to inform my family about my genetics. To me, finding out about my ATM gene gave me a sense of peace. But what about my family — those who haven’t been diagnosed with cancer yet?

Since giving them the news about our genetics, I’ve felt, in a way, like I’ve given them a diagnosis. Although some of my family feel the same way I do regarding having the information, I wonder how much this has disrupted their lives in some way.

Just recently, I was talking to one of my uncles who informed me that his daughter got the ‘clear’ for my mutated gene. I was very happy to hear it and when I tried to acknowledge that, he interrupted me, “but wait Rebecca, you may still want to talk to her. I don’t know if she tested for all genes. What if there is another gene? Talk to her please.” I took a deep breath and couldn’t help thinking, that once again, I am ‘no good news’ to my family.

And what about the time my aunt approached me about my mutated gene as if I was the original carrier who brought it upon the family? “So, that gene of yours…” she said, trying to initiate a conversation about her risks.

Most of my family don’t even ask me about my cancer lately. Maybe it is helpful for them to turn off the bad news.

My feeling of being a bearer of bad news to my family isn’t just related to my mutated gene though. It has to do with my cancer diagnosis too. I am sure this has scared some of my family, and has made them wonder if they are next. It used to be only the older people in my family getting diagnosed with cancers, except for my great-grandmother who died at the age of 49 from metastatic breast cancer. But I was 32 when I was diagnosed. I was the niece, the daughter, the sister, and the cousin. In a way, I feel I’ve brought a dark cloud over their heads by unintentionally interrupting their denial.

My genetic team at MSKCC warned me about this. They said some of my family relationships might change. I was OK with this and proceeded with genetic testing anyway.

So I guess bad news is just in my genes. I hope that people in my family will view my experience as an opportunity to make educated decisions. And I especially hope I am not being viewed as the one to blame for this mutated gene, because who the hell knows where it came from. This was out of my control, too. I can easily choose to blame my ancestors for this gene, but I won’t. This is my family. This is who we are – mutants, trying to live a life with too much danger, and more bad news than we want to hear.

 

Do you ever feel that, in a way, you’ve diagnosed your family with your cancer or/and mutated gene?
How have your relationships changed with your family since your diagnosis?

Posted in Awareness, c World, Coping after cancer, Family, Genetics, Reflections, Support | 16 Comments

Please don’t look the other way

dont look awayI was having one of my morning talk sessions with my fiancé this past weekend. I was questioning why even some friends seem to look away from cancerland. I mentioned how — just as one small example — when I share a meaningful video that educates about breast cancer on my personal facebook page, hardly any of my friends and family share it or even acknowledge it with a ‘like.’ I assume they don’t even watch it. I can’t deny that it hurts a little — not in a “you didn’t ‘like’ my facebook post” kind of way. It feels more like they are saying, “if you get diagnosed with stage 4, no matter what I do, you’ll die anyway.” It’s not like I am lecturing people everyday. My guy suggested that — as he well knows — maybe it is simply too painful for some people to expose themselves to cancer messages, when they already feel so powerless about it. I can understand that.

Everyone wants me well, except that by looking the other way, the problem will not go away. There’s still a chance I could become metastatic. There is also a chance that the person ignoring this educational information will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

I want to make it clear that I am not judging or blaming anyone for not wanting to be involved with cancer – trust me, I get it. But I feel a responsibility to share what I know as a way to help ALL of US.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought about the way we separate ourselves from situations we want to avoid or don’t want to picture ourselves going through. I am aware this doesn’t apply to everyone. But I’m wondering if there’s also an issue with the way we communicate important facts. That perhaps the way we talk about cancer is contributing to the ‘separation’ between non-cancer society and cancerland. Although I know it is not the intention of the patient to overwhelm or mislead, I wonder if the language we use is part of the problem.

Let me explain.

Holley Kitchen, one of the most effective advocates for breast cancer I‘ve ever read, passed away last week. I couldn’t help noticing the consistency with which people described her contribution — how she did so much for the breast cancer metastatic community. But the truth is her advocacy did a lot for ALL of US — those who have been diagnosed with early-stage, those who haven’t been diagnosed with breast cancer yet, as well as their loved ones and even those who put up with us who are living with cancer.

One reason why I have so much fear today, even after ‘catching my cancer early,’ is because I know if I get hit with a stage 4 diagnosis, my options will be very limited. This is why most of us are nervous and have a hard time with survivorship. People don’t want to hear or talk about this harsh reality, so it makes it difficult for us to interact with each other. Because of these uncertainties and fears, my state of mind isn’t very appealing to those who surround me. I become a blister and we know people don’t like having an exposed blister. This creates separation and isolation. It makes it hard for others to tolerate me because my world is very scary. It’s simply scary that metastatic breast cancer has very limited resources.

We all fear dying from our cancer. I believe that if stage 4 had more treatment options and people could live longer lives with it, I don’t think I would be as anxious today. Survivorship would be easier because I would know I will have options — the way some earlier-stage people do. And in return, people would tolerate me better. Hey, I might not even talk about cancer as much! Imagine that, friends and family.

I am not begging for help here. Most patients don’t like to be a burden to others. I usually just observe and wait for a response from others. But when I don’t get the reaction I want – what I measure as being cared for – I get disappointed. But even then I don’t express my disappointments. I stay quiet.

So, although I might be setting myself up for more trouble, I am going to start having real conversations with people I know. I am going to emphasize the “we/us” aspect of the situation, rather than “me” — because the fact is, I am not just advocating for myself and other patients, I am also doing this for the rest of the population — even if they don’t see it.

I am aware that the options I had when I was first facing cancer were not only thanks to the advancements in research, but also thanks to those who advocated for ALL of US years ago. I have wondered what if I had started to advocate a lot sooner. What if I haven’t waited until my diagnosis? Would that have made a difference with people’s attitudes (including my own)? Maybe I would have avoided some unfortunate interactions I had during my cancer, like having someone tell me my cancer happened to me for a reason.

I often ask myself, what is it going to take for people to listen? For me, it took the death of family members to start getting involved. I understand that people don’t want to deal with cancer until they are forced to. I am not asking people to live in cancerland with me, but if you see an opportunity to learn and share information about something that might contribute to progress, please don’t ignore it.

I shared about a few organizations that contribute to MBC research here. Please learn about them and mention to others. Metavivor is a great start. Please understand that metastatic breast cancer research will impact ALL of US. And every small contribution counts.

I am not asking you to follow me around in cancerland. All I ask is that you don’t look the other way.

Posted in Awareness, Coping after cancer, Reflections, Support | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Somebody stop me before I tell the truth

oopsA late side effect of my cancer diagnosis is that I seem to have lost my filter for my words and actions. It has gotten worse recently. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I am speaking with.

Where did my tact go? Where everything else went, I guess. But I thought people were supposed to become wiser and more cautious about what they do and say as time goes on.

At my job, my boss asks, “so Rebecca, how are you doing today? You seem tense and nervous.”

“Nervous? I am not nervous but if you want to see nervous, come with me to my oncology appointments.”

He takes a deep breath, and then says, “I understand. But how are you feeling?”

“Horrible! But don’t worry, the work won’t suffer,” I reply.

Now, I am not sure that’s the right thing to say to your boss. They might worry they have an employee who was going to “act out” or eventually screw up. But it’s true my work hasn’t suffered. In fact, I tend to be even more productive and work harder when I am under stress and do a damn fine job, too (for the record).

Just recently, at a family Christmas gathering with my fiancé and in-laws, I almost became the Grinch. My fiancé is a few years older than me. In fact, I was the youngest person in the room. Everyone was complaining about aging, a topic I am more familiar with than they realize. When I joined the party to complain about my hip pains, my brother in-law said “you’re too young to have hip pains!” — to which I responded with a forced smile, “I am too young for cancer too!”

I could have gone on to elaborate on my premature cancer diagnosis and how, because of my treatments, I basically experienced menopause at the age of 32, but my mother-in-law gave me a nervous look. She knows I can’t keep anything to myself, especially these days. But this time I decided not to share those stories to avoid having people choke on their Beaujolais Nouveau.

Last, but not least, I contacted my family in the Dominican Republic to wish them happy holidays. I hadn’t heard from them in a while, and when my uncle’s wife picked up the phone, my first words were “you don’t call me anymore. Geez, I am not dead yet!”

She said they’ve been very busy, and then we spoke for almost one hour. During our conversation though, I would catch myself speaking my mind about certain family situations and ending with words like, “…I might as well say it now in case I die tomorrow, right?” and “…because I’ve got nothing to lose now, right? Ha ha ha!!” It’s a good thing my uncle’s wife supports the idea of always speaking up, and doesn’t mind the way I do it.

I feel a sense of desperation. Perhaps this has to do with all the bad news I’ve been exposed to lately. I want to do and say everything. I have this picture in my head of not being able to do or speak anymore, and regretting not doing so when I was able to. I no longer want to be careful with what I say. I want the freedom to let things out. But when is it too much?

I had another realization.

Before Christmas, I received Nancy Stordahl book in the mail and started reading it right away – and am loving it, by the way! The morning of Christmas Day, when we were getting ready to open our presents, I came out of my room holding the book under my arm, ready to continue my reading. It took me a while to realize: perhaps my loved ones need a break from cancer this morning. Maybe I need a break from cancer too.

I haven’t felt the holiday spirit for a few years now. I understand other people take this time to reflect and to find some joy. Personally, I don’t use the holidays to reflect about my life because I find myself reflecting every single day. I am constantly exposing myself to the reality of my health situation. It is the way I live.

But have I forgotten about other people’s feelings – those who live in fear with me? Do they need a constant reminder of my cancer diagnosis? I sometimes forget it is painful for them to deal with that. I live “casually” in cancerland, but they don’t. Our worlds are different. I find myself hitting people with my reality more often than not. It’s what I am now. I can’t seem to find a way to control it because of that feeling of desperation. I want to express myself NOW. As long as I am able to.

But when is it too much?

Posted in Awareness, Coping after cancer, Reflections | 24 Comments

New Year’s lessons from a butterfly (no resolutions for me)

It is almost 2016. Each year almost comes as a surprise to us, doesn’t it? Especially as we get older. My reaction is the same every December 31: “I can’t believe it is <insert year> already!” I don’t remember saying that as a kid, and honestly, I miss not noticing the passing of time.

Time just went, and I lived.

I know many of you do New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do them. I never really stuck to them when I was younger.

One reason I stopped doing New Year’s resolutions is because now I reflect about my life and make some sort of resolution almost every day. There are always important decisions to be made.

Another reason is because of my need to let go of ‘control’. In my life, I’ve valued having control over some things — it gives me a sense of security — but I also want to teach myself that it is OK not to have control and to allow things to just be. If my goals get done, great. If they don’t, I am fine with that too.

When I think of resolutions, I think of ‘bucket lists,’ and I don’t do those either. There is something about them that remind me of having an expiration date and that I’d better hurry. I also don’t want to create a situation where I have regrets if some things don’t get done.

I went to Catholic school in the Dominican Republic as a child, and one thing that always bothered me was the way we were taught about discipline. Those nuns were mean. I really didn’t have a choice but to listen and do. Or else. There was always a timeframe.

In first grade each one of us created a paper butterfly made out of posterboard, which was used as a symbol of our accomplishments. The butterflies represented us. These butterflies were taped on the wall of our classroom. Depending on how well we did, our butterflies would be flying high — at the top of the wall — or flying low, down by the floor. This was supposed to ‘encourage’ us to learn quickly, to compete, to set goals and get them done — except not everyone had the same capacity to do that. And no, my butterfly was not one of those that flew low, but I wasn’t at the top either. This created a lot of pressure for all of us kids. And I was only 4 years old (I skipped pre-school).

Creating resolutions makes me feel like I am still in Catholic school. I don’t want to create a situation where I disappoint myself for not accomplishing something. Doesn’t mean I am a person with no goals and wishes. I have them like anyone else. I want to trust that my goals will be accomplished, in time, when my desire is there. I also find myself getting more things done when there’s spontaneity.

Everyone has a way to accomplish things in life. I understand that sometimes people need special motivation. I can see how starting a New Year can be a good reason to reflect and want to start over. I want to take each day as an opportunity to grow. I don’t want to feel pressured though.

2016I am OK with those things I didn’t accomplish this past year. I am also very proud of those things I was able to accomplish, like my blog, for example. There were other things I wanted to do, but circumstances didn’t allow me to and that’s OK, too. I have no regrets. Self forgiveness has been another big accomplishment of mine — to be kind to myself.

Wishing everyone a healthy and joyful 2016. And while I don’t do resolutions, I have a goal: to allow myself to appreciate and accept all the complexities of being a human being. And most importantly, to let go of ‘control.’ After all, I never really had it to begin with.

And by the way…if I had a classroom with all of you in it, all of your butterflies will always fly up high on my wall. Because we all do our best. Every day.

Posted in Awareness, Reflections | Tagged , | 26 Comments

These days

mamaandesperanzafinal

Me with my grandma

My mind is all over the place. Sometimes I feel I can’t focus. There are just too many emotions flowing through me during these holidays. So many memories of people who are no longer here. There is also sad, bad news in the blogosphere. And the uncertainties that never seem to end.

Yet, we must continue. Some days are more difficult than others though. Today is one of those days.

There have been a lot of deaths the last month due to metastatic breast cancer. One of these women who lost her life was Carolyn Frayn who blogged at art of breast cancer.

Although I know the outcome from this disease, it is still very hard to process when someone I care about dies. Carolyn was a beautiful artist (read her last post here). I enjoyed reading her posts as they were always so poignant. I often checked for updates. I knew what she was dealing with, but in my mind, when I did not see her posts, I was wishing she was just too busy living her life and didn’t have the time to post. I didn’t want to imagine the worst. Although I know the reality of metastatic breast cancer, I still hold on to hope. I am sad to have lost another member of our community. My condolences go out to Carolyn’s family.

And even those other women I didn’t know — their deaths affect me too. Ever since my diagnosis, this has become personal for me. Let’s not forget we are all in this mess together regardless of our cancer stage. I am unable to walk away. I feel for those families as they endure so much pain during these holidays. My condolences go out to you as well.

Losing a loved one sucks so much! There’s no way to describe the pain we feel. Losing someone during the holidays is even more painful to me, not that there is a “right time.” It reminds me of when I was getting chemo and was given a huge dose of steroids and diphenhydramine. One made me wired and one made me extremely drowsy, simultaneously — the side effects of these two drugs fighting against each other. But I couldn’t avoid them. I had to let them pass. Similarly, I don’t feel festive these holidays and at the same time I don’t want to sink into sadness. I need to let these days pass. But I do agree allowing myself to experience all these emotions/feelings is best. I should allow myself to grieve.

I am also thinking of my grandmother, who raised me, and who died from ovarian cancer on a January 2 – not a good way to start a New Year. It was during these days — the holidays, 1997 — that I had my last conversations with her. I am still grieving her loss. One thing I’ve been doing to help my state of mind is writing stories based on our memories together from my childhood. I suggest you give writing a try as it might help you too. Think of one special memory (or several of them) and write them down. Then read them out loud.

It’s totally OK not to feel festive during these holidays. And I am sorry some of you have reasons not to. Still, my wish for us is that we have many more good days than bad days, remembering we can only do our best.

Thank you for all the support you’ve provided me during 2015. Please know I am thinking of all of you and wishing everyone a wonderful holiday.

May 2016 bring us all some hopeful and encouraging news!

Posted in Awareness, c World, Coping after cancer, Family, Loss | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Another moment of forced exploration

imagine_titleAs I was getting ready to fall asleep, a thought entered my mind. I turned to my guy and asked, “what if I decide to stop Tamoxifen? Leave everything aside and just live my life?”

His response? A very long deep breath.

Don’t get me wrong. I am living A LIFE, but there are times when I imagine having my old life — the one before cancer. Is it possible to ever get that back? Personally, I’ve never heard of it happening. Have you? Maybe to some extent some people go back to their old selves. Maybe people with “early stages” of awareness — the ones who do not want to know too much and only deal with the problem at hand.

I am too aware now.

I am a cancer patient. It took me a while to accept that. For me, it is unavoidable to think about it though. There’re a lot of reminders— the scar on my breast, my fear of letting my hair grow past my chin, the daily Tamoxifen pill I need to take, my regular doctors appts., to mention a few. I had been imagining that maybe, if I eliminated some of those things that remind me of being a cancer patient, I could regain some level of denial. Maybe I would be able to finally create an identity — I don’t know WHO I am these days — and feel a sense of belonging. It felt good to imagine being closer to my old self again.

Except, when I was actually confronted with an opportunity to make such a change, I reconsidered.

Last week, I was given a chance to eliminate one of those things that remind me of being a patient. I’ve been complaining about Tamoxifen side effects a lot lately. The most recent symptoms I’ve been experiencing are hip pains. My mind always goes to the dark place, so I decided to contact my oncologist. It took me over three weeks to call because I wanted to hold on to denial as long as possible. But I knew it was important to let her know about my symptoms.

I spoke to the nurse. After a couple of hours, the nurse called back to let me know my onco isn’t worried about the hip pains. However, she would like me to try to stop taking the Tamoxifen for one week to see if my hip pains are related.

Image that. An opportunity for me to pretend I have a simple life for one week.

Just the night before I was fantasizing about the possibility of stopping it. And yet, even though the test would only be for one week, the idea made me panic. “I am not ready to stop Tamoxifen.” I said to the nurse. It did not matter that my oncologist doesn’t think it’s risky, as she has done this with other patients who experience severe side effects from this medication. I told the nurse I would have to think about her recommendation.

So, I am still taking my Tamoxifen. How does one differentiate between fear and instincts? I tend to follow my instincts but I don’t want to become a victim of fear.

The reaction I had about my oncologist’s recommendation gave me a lot to think about. I’ve been having conversations with doctors about stopping treatment to give myself one chance to build a family. I am contemplating the idea of carrying my child next year. If I do, I will need to stop Tamoxifen for at least a year. Yes, I know some of you must think it’s a crazy idea considering the risks, but it is still possible to have a safe pregnancy. There’s also no proof that pregnancy is linked to cancer reoccurrences. It’s reasonable for you to think I am crazy, but it’s also reasonable to want to have more quality of life.

But it turns out that I’m still scared to try one week without my pill. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I am still under 5 years. The recommended time on the pill is 5 to 10 years.

Do I really want to leave everything aside to seek the life I had before my diagnosis? Cancer happened. The damage has been done. This has created a fear in me that doesn’t allow me to walk away from treatments so easily. I am afraid I can’t turn off the fear switch. But many women do stop treatments to build families. Why can’t I be one of those women?

I also think to myself, am I so naïve to think I can pull this off? Could it be possible I am still in complete denial about my health situation to even consider stopping treatments? Haven’t I been exposed to enough? I guess I am still holding on to hope in some way, although my relationship with hope is still complicated.

There’s a lot of effort involved with survivorship and more often than not I feel trapped between two worlds. Decision making becomes more challenging. Sacrifices are made. We give up quality of life in order to hold on to existence.

I am not sure how I will do it, but my desire to have a simpler life still lives.


If you are on Tamoxifen, have you experienced hip pains?

Have you taken a break from tamoxifen (or fully stopped taking it) due to side effects?

Posted in Coping after cancer, Family, Mental games, Self Awareness, Tamoxifen | 19 Comments

Unlearned lessons

bad studentI am chatting with a friend, and she notices I am still stressing the ‘small stuff’ and being disappointed about some people in my life. “You’re still angry at those situations, huh,” she says, surprised to hear me complain. She thought that, after my cancer diagnosis, those things would no longer occupy space in my mind, but they still do. I guess I didn’t learn my lesson from cancer.

“It’s OK,” she says. “I’d probably be doing the same thing post-cancer, continuing to waste my time.” (One of these days I need to write about the concept of “wasting time” – who defines this anyway?) So I reply, “I hope you would. I wouldn’t want you to pretend to please other people.”

She then tries changing the subject because she says I’ve been acting ‘confrontational’ recently. I disagree. What’s wrong with speaking my mind, especially when I’m being judged by someone who hasn’t walked my path? I’ve tried to excuse these people by thinking “they mean well.” But I now realize this approach has been distracting me from the real issues.

People expect us to be transformed after cancer — otherwise, we are failing as human beings. I believe we should tell people when they are being unreasonable, judgmental or unkind, even if those aren’t their intentions. I understand many patients don’t do this because of the fear of losing support. I’ve felt that way too. So yes, we will probably lose some friendships along the way, but do we really need friends who are unwilling to hear us out? Who wants a relationship where you aren’t allowed to be yourself?

But getting back to my ‘unlearned lessons’, I guess I am a stubborn student. I got an “F” in cancer class. So often, it seems that when a person is facing a tragedy, others think the experience should ‘straighten up’ the person’s life. Some people expect you to learn something from illnesses and other bad situations because they believe these things happen for a reason — one reason being you’ve been misbehaving in some way, and you need a little spanking from life. I can even picture some family members saying to each other, “cancer didn’t teach Rebecca <insert lesson>!” Teach me what exactly? What lesson do they think I should have learned from cancer? The lesson THEY want me to learn? I wonder if my cancer taught THEM anything.

Now let me be clear. I respect other patients who feel they’ve learned something from their diagnosis — those who consider the experience to be a self-transformation event for the better. As long as it is better for the patient, it’s all good. And yes, there’s definitely some level of transformation after cancer, but every person’s experience is different. I am not saying I am completely the same person I used to be. I am not — just as I wasn’t the same person 10 years ago that I was 15 years ago, long before my diagnosis.

I also realize in some ways I am still the same person I always have been. I stress the small stuff. I hate drama and try to stay away from it. Sometimes I create my own. I dread my unhappy associations with winter. I have little patience. I complain, even about Tamoxifen, the cancer treatment I should be grateful for because I am lucky to have that option. Still, the collateral damage is brutal. But these characteristics are what make me human.

Am I not allowed to be human anymore? I’ve already lost enough because of cancer.

I had never thought about lessons I should have learned from my cancer until people made me think of them. I do reflect on life in general but it never occurred to me that cancer was meant to make me a super hero and able to tolerate everything life throws at me. Why not just let me cope the best way that I can and respect me for it? Allow me to figure out some new normalcy. How about using kindness as a way to contribute to my healing instead of building unreasonable expectations that you yourself aren’t even sure you could meet, because you haven’t been there?

Pretending I am someone I’m not does not help my situation. Suppressing my feelings and emotions won’t heal me. People who judge my behavior during my most vulnerable moments are only thinking of themselves. I have walked away from such people and situations that make me unhappy. Those are the situations I DO have control over.

I worry about patients who are too preoccupied with what others would think of them if they don’t meet the post-cancer societal expectations. I’d tell those patients to stay true to themselves if that would make their lives easier. It certainly makes survivorship more tolerable for me. I’ve also been lucky to find people who are willing to listen without judging me. You might too.

Posted in Coping after cancer, Support | 42 Comments

A place you can call your home

Home

The house where I grew up with my grandparents

Holidays are generally hard for me. I know they must be for some of you as well.

I miss my home with my grandparents. How we would gather around the table with all kinds of different foods; some were only available to us during those special days. I miss seeing my aunts and uncles visiting from their colleges to join us, some with their girlfriends/boyfriends and some still single. I miss interacting with our neighbors by exchanging foods. How they would all join us on the dancing floor. I miss how we were all more trusting and kind to each other in the community. Even growing up in the Dominican Republic, society just seemed less dangerous. I miss how we would celebrate together as a family – everyone from the community. I really enjoyed those days and wish they were back.

I am sure most of us had at least one special memory we cherish and that we wish we could get back. Thanksgiving makes me think about those great memories and makes me feel grateful I had them. But this holiday also makes me reflect.

I realize I am an adult now. Everything in life evolves. There was a time I was taken care of. I now, as an adult, have the opportunity to build my own home and care for others. I am with my partner and my kitty Nelly. They are both what I call my home and I am grateful to have them both in my life.

I am also grateful for those people who aren’t related to me and still offer me their unconditional love and support. These people include all of you, readers. I’ve also found a home through my blog and you’ve all helped me create it so thank you.

For those of you struggling with the holidays, who might be alone, I wish you can find a sense of peace and community in any way you can. People nearby, or even people online, can provide support in new and different ways. Welcome them into your lives. Family can be found everywhere.

Please know I am thinking of all of you and wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and a place you can call your home.

————-
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home

Posted in Family, Reflections, Support | Tagged , , | 11 Comments