Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I am 40 today.

The opportunity to scrutinize one's past on a birthday is irresistible and I believe that turning 40 is a definitive landmark in one's personal history. It's not a source of stress for me, never has been. I like birthdays but the attention that comes with it is often odd for me. I don't love being the center of attention. So, writing about my birthday on my birthday is clearly drawing attention to a day that I usually don't make a big deal about.

But, this birthday is a big one and not entirely because I'm turning 40. It's because my past has become a blur and I'm starting to recognize that fact. I've lived long enough that I don't always remember my past clearly and I hate that. I've done so many amazing things in my life. I was in Berlin in 1990 and hacked a piece of the Wall off myself. I went off to grad school at 22 and finished within 2 years. I exhibit my artwork nationally and have had several solo exhibitions of my work. I got married to an amazing man who by all accounts I never should have met. A chance meeting and the next thing I know we moved from Philadelphia to Atlanta and have 2 great kids. And, eight years ago I finally got the job I always wanted - that of an art educator - working as a graphic design instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta. I mean, the boxes are there and check, check, check...

The sad thing is that I really have to dig to think of these amazingly good things. They are not in the front of my consciousness. In my conscious life the benchmarks include 2 major events - the day my dad died when I was 23 and the day Bea was diagnosed with cancer. It's so hard to put other experiences into perspective when these 2 events are just so huge.

We all seem to forget the good things so easily. They become a part of our past and often stay there. So, my question is... why do the sad things of the past stay with us so much longer?

With that being said, my goal for this 40th birthday is to spend the day relishing the good things in my past and to try to strike a balance between those great events and accomplishments with the difficult experiences. It's not going to be easy but I know that I deserve some joy and sense of accomplishment today. Maybe tomorrow will bring a new mood, new thoughts, new worries or new promises. But that's tomorrow and it hasn't happened yet.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brother and Sister

A professional photographer came to our home a few weeks ago and took some family photos. This is the first I have to share. Once I get all of them I'll post a gallery for you all to see. If this photo is any indication they are going to be magical.


Silence can mean so many things to us. And the cause of silence can often be a contradiction. Sometimes it's a sign that something fearsome is off in the distance. Sometimes it's a sign that there's peace in the world. For me, it's a little bit of both.

There is a lot of peace in our home and in my life today. That's why I haven't posted to the blog. There's not a whole lot to say. Bea is doing really well. Actually, she seems to have improved a bit in the last week. Her appetite is really up. The hair at the base of her neck is growing back. Her energy and attention can last almost all day. She's doing remarkably well.

Lewis is becoming a little boy and growing out of some of his toddler behaviors. Not all of them, but enough to notice that he's growing up, too. And, he spends most of his time at home playing with Bea and everything is pretty normal.

Chris and I are talking more again. We spent a time living in the same space but doing what most due in terrible situations... we were just surviving. We were unified but often just in terms of the space we occupied. We're coming together again and it's reassuring that we can go through so much and still find and need each other.

And, so, I fell silent. You see, to come to this blog means that I'm thinking about Bea's illness. The illness is present, no doubt. But, the ever present and overwhelming worry is not. I don't know if it's a matter of getting used to our new life. I don't know if it's because she's just so healthy and normal right now (I always add "right now" whenever I speak of Bea's health). I don't know. But, the silence feels really, really good.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

And, We're Off to Pitt Again

Bea and I are off for her second treatment at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. We leave for the airport in a couple of hours. It's a quick trip. Bea has her vaccine appointment at 10am tomorrow. We're being limo'd to the airport at 3 for a 6:50 flight. That'll give us a lot of wiggle room if there are delays.

It's a Happy Easter for the kids. Bea got up early to see if the Easter Bunny arrived. And, so, the bunny had shown and left both Bea and Lewis baskets and hid some of our eggs. It seems that we didn't leave carrots out the last few years and the disgruntled bunny passed us by. Oh well. Live and learn...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Second Trip to Pitt Coming Up!

Bea and I are going on our second trip to Pittsburgh this weekend. We're leaving midafternoon on Sunday and will arrive early evening. This trip is just a shot. No MRI or any bloodwork. So, it's just a matter of waking up, getting to her appointment on time and then heading home. The appointment always takes a lot longer than stated on paper so the day won't be short. But, it'll be easy in terms of what they'll be doing to Bea.

And, Bea has a Kindle Fire now so I can load it with music, games and videos to entertain her while we wait. Hands down her favorite game is Angry Bird, music is the Fresh Beat Band and favorite video alternates from the Jetsons to the Pink Panther to the Mr. Men Show.

As a reward for her courage her dad and I are taking her to see the Fresh Beat Band on Friday the 13th of April. She is absolutely pumped. If any of you know the Fresh Beats this show is like sugar on steroids. And, if you know mom and dad you know that this is not exactly our scene when it comes to music. But, it's not for us, eh? Bea is stoked and I'm sure there will be a few musical moments here and there that'll be pretty great... well, I'm going to try to keep an open mind at the very least!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bea Is Back at School

Bea returned to school a week ago. It was well time for it to happen and time for me to let go of my fear of having her out of my sight.

Going back to school has ultimately been good for the entire family. There's a sense of normalcy that we haven't had in some months. That lingering feeling that something's not quite right is always present but it's not chirping so loud right now. And, that's just with me. Bea is another story.

She's thrilled to be back at school. The routine is pretty much the same as in the fall. I have to drag her out of bed. She watches the Pink Panther or the Jetsons or some other old school cartoon while she eats her breakfast. She procrastinates on getting dressed and minutes before the bus comes she decides she has to go potty. Same old. Same old. Then I get her at the bus stop and sometimes she plays with the neighborhood kids for an hour or two and sometimes we go pick up Lewis at his school.

So, what's a gal to do when her kids are away? Well, good news for me, too. I'm going back to work this week, teaching a condensed schedule of 2 days a week at the Art Institute. I'm prepping my classes 100% before the first day, which is a first. And, so my days are filled with work right now. That's a good thing. If I didn't have that I don't know what I would do or what my mood would bring.

I dunno. It's been hard to write lately. I don't feel the same verve for words that I felt a few weeks back. Part of it is because the stress isn't high pitched and not hitting those chords in my brain that make me want to express myself. Maybe I'm tired and need to be OK with not always producing things... producing money with fundraising, producing art because I need to expunge the awfulness of cancer, writing because I need the world to know what it really means to have a child with cancer. Yeah, I'm definitely burned out.

But, that being said, Bea is not burned out and she's more important than all that stuff. So, that keeps me going day in and day out. She's happy and her happiness is all that matters.