Isn't it funny how all the things you thought were important turn out NOT to be so much when you learn that someone close to you is sick.
Two weeks ago I found out that the mother of my long-time childhood friend was diagnosed with cancer and not first or second stage either. This "thing" takes up almost one entire lung. Even without the final test results in, the doctors have already told my friends mom that she would need to undergo radiation/chemo just to shrink the cancer to a size where it can be CUT out. With her condition rapidly deteriorating, my friend's mother is pretty adamant about NOT wanting to fight this. Her body is already breaking down and no treatments have even begun yet. "And for what?" she asked me, half in English, half in Portuguese, when I spoke to her last Wednesday. "So I can live half a life afterwards assuming my body survives the radiation treatments? No, I have lived a long time (aside: she's 71, same age as my mother), a good life. If it is my time, then well, I am ready to go. The only thing I wished is that I could spend more time with my Jude. At least til he was five.") Jude is my friend's "surprise" bundle of joy that she gave birth to 4 years ago. Did I mention he was diagnosed with autism within the last year or so? All this after raising 2 teens from a previous marriage--a son, now 18 and a daughter, 20. With all the things she could have wished for, 2 more years with her youngest grandchild, to see him grow up more was all that she asked. What a simple request...
A little bit about this woman who so influenced my formative years--as much if not more than my parents in a lot of ways because I was always at their house if I wasn't at mine (or the local library). One of my oldest friends in the universe comes from a multicultural background. Her dad is Colombian and her mother is Brazilian and with a child who was kind of a misfit of sorts, an outcast in grade school (her last name is synonymous for a slang word for Mexican gangster--so between that, the shyness and the eventual braces that would soon follow) my friend got teased LOT). So as their daughter's protector on the playground, occasional math tutor and only REAL friend until high school for sure, they welcomed me into their home with all the enthusiasm and love of new parents bringing home their adopted child for the first time. I became a member of their family instantly and by extension, a member of the small but close-knit Brazilian community that had sprung up in this part of Orange County in S. CA. It was as foreign to me as it was exciting--I didn't speak a lick of Portuguese but I'll be goddamned if all the Spanish I had been picking up as child and studying in high school wasn't paying off. And as a black child growing up in white Orange County, where blacks were (and continue to be) less than 2% of the population, it was as if a whole new world had been opened up to me--LITERALLY. I had never SEEN so many mixed backgrounds within ONE culture before--Japanes, Hispanic, Indio, Caucasian, African and all speaking English, Portuguese and Spanish. Consequently, I had never felt more accepted, alive or beautiful which is not always easy during one's adolescent years under the BEST of circumstances. This family and the rich culture of this community helped to shape my view of the world, my willingness to be open to "the other"--my verve for life and to revel in being my most unique self--lessons and love which I have never forgotten and for which I will be forever grateful.
So now with the advent of this news coming on the heels of the not-TOO-recent break up of my 15-year relationship 10 months ago (although some days it feels just like yesterday), I feel like I am entering yet another period of mourning which has resulted in this overwhelming urge to make peace with many areas of my life--my dissatisfaction with work, my weight, my failed relationship with my EX, the failed relationship with my mom, my new solitude...None of THESE things are really THAT important in the BIG, overarching scheme of things known as LIFE. Look, I'm not saying I've had this big ol' epiphany cuz part of me really enjoys being a sarcastic, smart-a$$ed cynic--it's as much a part of my charm as the REST my effervescent and sparkling personality.
However, what I am saying is that life REALLY is too short to sweat the small stuff.
Now excuse me but I got go b*tch about it being another Monday.