Courage to be seen
Thursday, April 04, 2013
I have to admit that I go to great lengths to keep old friends and classmates from seeing me at my current size. Although I see others going to reunions, etc. with all those extra pounds on them, it hasn't been enough for me to face it. I think they are lucky that it doesn't matter to them. It seems I just can't divorce myself from my self-image as an obese woman and I get mad at myself when I throw away opportunities to be with old friends, in person.
That brings me to think about my cousin. A few years ago, he learned that he had cancer in his salivary glands. As the cancer spread, he had several surgeries to remove tissue and bone in his mouth and jaw. Each surgery changed his looks, until he had no jaws at all. He was unable to eat or drink, and took all nourishment through tubes. As you can imagine, he was terribly disfigured.
He could have gone into hiding because of his facial deformities, but he chose not to. He lost quite a bit of weight, so with his new face, it was difficult to recognize him. Before he had cancer he was overweight--I guess you could say "portly." So here was the new look, with no jaws and mouth pulling together from the sides to the middle, kind of like kids do when trying to look like a fish. He said this was what he looked like now, so what? Even though he was unable to eat, he took a lot of joy in creating a cookbook about cooking one dish meals in a rice cooker. I can't imagine cooking and smelling all those wonderful smells and not being able to eat them! He also continued to work at his craft--reviewing movies.
Roger Ebert died today, and I am saying goodbye to my last cousin, not the film critic, although I will miss that side of him too. He made the best of everything, even when it was difficult. He still saw and reviewed movies, wrote up reviews for the print media, and recently wrote his autobiography. He had a good life and a full one. He also had the courage to be seen, in spite of the changes in his appearance.
RIP, Roger Ebert