Friday, December 16, 2011

The best Christmas present I've ever received was a lesson.

The best Christmas present I've ever received was a lesson: save your energy for what really counts.
by sherry

One of the most important things that we have gained from our cancer experience is appreciation of what is really important in our lives and what is just fluffy stuff.

Guess what? In the grand scheme of things, most of what we care about is just fluff. Why is this important to recognize?
 Because we have less energy than we are used to having and we need to be extra careful how we use it.  When we wake up in the morning we only have so much energy to get us through the day; each time you use some of that energy it is spent, gone, never to be recovered.

Patients and caregivers alike are obviously under tremendous stress and have more to worry about and more to do than ever, so why waste any of that precious energy on fluff when there are so many truly important things to care about?

First family (dys) function after cancer diagnoses.
The first Thanksgiving after Terence was diagnosed with cancer was our very first family (dys) "function".   Behind the pretty picture, we were all  privately irritated at how the other was choosing to handle (or not handle) Pop's 'terminal diagnoses', but it we were clearly showing it in the small stuff: how the turkey was cooked (or in our case, not cooked- the power went out in our family vacation home); "so & so didn't even wake up and help clean the mess when the ceiling collapsed in the middle of the dinning room in the middle of the night!" (there was a HUGE rain storm roaring outside- the area was flooding) and finally, the basic grouchy-ness of not being able to take a shower on Thanksgiving morning (the water is powered by an electric pump). Not to mention, how we're going to get a 29 pound turkey done by dinner time, with no power, no water? (my brother-in-law knew how, but he was in Hawaii).

Personal offenses were flying (in our minds only. Our family has never been vocal enough to yell them at each other (until that day) we've always just talked things out when things have bothered us).
In the end, I found myself shouting at my adult kids, "Pop is dying, and you're carrying an offense because you were asked to sweep the floor, REALLY????? Someone just sweep the damn floor!" (I personally wasted so much energy that day!).

In the midst of cancer (or any other illness or crises) isn't that just fluffy stuff?

Why waste physical and emotional energy on it? You’re going to need that same energy later.

Ignore it and save some of that energy where it counts.

Why bother harboring an offense? It takes way to much energy to continue to feed it as opposed to forgive and move on. Love doesn't keep a record, so get over it.

The next day Terence calls a family meeting.  My older sister (being the peacemaker and fixer--- she does it for a living- she helps businesses figure out how to change themselves and become more productive); she takes out the dry erase board and writes: "The new Normal"- and we talked about how we as a family can adjust to Pop's diagnoses in a healthy way.

'Dys' function became a fun tradition.
We are learning to give each other the freedom to deal with the crises individually, and be okay with it)- so we made fun of ourselves the next Christmas (see picture at right), our ugly sweater Christmas eve is how we chose to deal with the new normal of cancer stresses during the holidays. Chill out.  Laugh at yourself.  Stop keeping score.

I have to be on guard for energy thief's—those things that might make me mad or cause a fight or other unpleasantness which, in reality, just don’t matter- there are BIGGER things in life that matter.  Helping someone in need.  Spending time with someone who has no one.  Health. Life. Your family.

That’s why I say: choose our battles and spend your energy on things that matter. That’s right… we can choose. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. You're exactly right- use that energy to enjoy the good days with Terence. Thanks for sharing that Sherry. Love you!