Happy Positivity Day!

Today is Friday the 13th, a day some people truly dread. For others, these unlucky Fridays provide a whimsical excuse for all that goes wrong. April was the most recent time a Friday fell on the thirteenth. When I shared some thoughts about it, I received a comment by this writer suggesting that every Friday the 13th should be considered “simple life day.” I loved the idea.

But I’ve changed my mind.

Today, I declare that Friday the 13th henceforth will be known as “Positivity Day.”

There. It’s official, at least, in my world.

I have good reason to choose this new designation. One month ago, on an unlucky Wednesday, a family member called to say she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was too early to reveal her identity, but now I’ll tell you that it was Mary Beth, my only sister, my confidante, my beautiful, talented, caring, spirited, chronic illness warrior partner.

It was the second time a brain tumor crashed into my world. The first time, it was Matthew, my 11-year old son, who was no longer my “Little Einstein, or my “gazelle,” and we couldn’t figure out why until a brain scan revealed the problem.

There are so many similarities in Mary Beth’s and Matthew’s stories, it’s eerie. “Surreal,” my sister and I kept saying on the phone.

My sister’s tumor, a benign meningioma the size of an orange, was removed in a nine hour surgery. Last week, I flew out to spend time with her, and saw first-hand that she is doing amazingly well. Amazing as in, less than a month post-surgery, Mary Beth is feeling and functioning better than at any time in the past five years when her journey of pain and weakness began.

Matthew’s recovery was not so dramatic, but equally amazing. At 32, he manages his independent life better than many older, wiser adults. If you didn’t know what he’s been through, you’d never suspect what he’s been through. My memoir, in progress, tells of my struggle to parent Matthew through his challenges, a struggle that exposed the depth of my personal weaknesses. A perfect life could never have taught me so much.

My own brain still struggles to wrap itself around this recent brain tumor surprise. There are life lessons hiding in it, yet to be discovered. With time, I’ll find them and work them into my writing. I have to get back to work on my memoir manuscript. It has a new chapter. Or perhaps a sequel, as my sister suggested.

Today, I’m going to find positivity in everything. Already, the day is exploding with examples: the sky is blue, the sun bright, the AC ready for the afternoon’s humidity. My Rose of Sharon shrubs have popped with pink and purple flowers, the white balls of blooms on my hydrangea are bigger than my head. My coffee was perfect this morning, and I’m sitting in my PJs tapping away in my quiet, cool dining room. Matthew will be stopping by this weekend to visit, and Mary Beth texted this morning to say she is full of joy.

It’s working! Positivity reigns!

 

If you find positivity in an unusual place today, or any day, please share it with me! You just might nudge another reader (or me) toward the same discovery.  

 

 

 

 

Brain Tumor Awareness Month, Day 10.

Pylocytic astrocytoma was one of the words I introduced in my Day 8 post. It’s the type of brain tumor my son has—benign and slow-growing. 

An MRI revealed it when Matt was 11. The doctors didn’t know how long it lay hidden in his brain; it could have been there since birth.

I often wonder if Matt’s inconsolability as an infant was an early sign, or his hyperactivity as a toddler. 

I’m sure the tumor was there when Matt was 8, as that’s when he started displaying weird behaviors and having cognitive difficulties. 

He’s had it now for over 20 years. It’s inoperable, but stable.

A day, a week, a year. Once it’s behind you, it’s gone and you have only the future before you.

Although I write about my past, trying to make sense of the darkness, I look toward the future, which is bright.

Brain Tumor Awareness Month, Day 8.

It’s amazing, when you get a diagnosis for which you were unprepared, how quickly your lexicon expands. 

Pilocytic astrocytoma and hydrocephalus and third ventriculostomy were three of the mouthfuls added to our vocabulary when our son Matt was diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

In the following years, neuropsychological testing and 504 Plan and TBI joined our dinnertime conversations. 

It’s amazing, too, the capacity our brains have for growth. At the moment of crisis, it seems to shut down, and all we can remember are the awful words. Then our brain recovers, creates new neural pathways, and starts processing and filing information.

It’s a metaphor for life. 

We’re not always prepared for what’s thrown our way, but we have the capacity to shut down when we need to, then recover and grow.

We’re amazing creations, aren’t we?