10/08/2013

KISS ME


I am a spiritual person and therefore need to begin writing this entry by sharing a scripture.  The scripture is Romans 15:13 and it reads, "May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your trusting in him, so that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit."

My family and I are at a point in our lives where hope is of utter necessity.  In fact, it is essential to our being.  I now find it appropriate to take a little time to share 'officially' with my clients, acquaintances, fellow creatives and friends that may not happen to be aware, that we are undergoing the most unfortunate of onerous circumstances.  We have discovered that my mother has stage 4 cancer.  This stage 4 cancer is all through her body.  It is in her lungs.  It is in her brachial tube.  It is in her lymph nodes.  Lastly, it is in her brain.

Since the age of 36, my mother has battled Rheumatoid Arthritis.  It was actually the year she had me, 1986, that she was diagnosed.  I can confidently say, as would nearly every single person that knows her, that she is super woman.  I don't want to embarrass her by what I'm about to share about how epically strong she is... {pause to reevaluate sharing...} nope, I'll keep going...

My parents decided to try to have a baby and were told that they could not.  They therefore even tried adopting and that did not work out.  Having given up hope... surprise et voila; c'est moi!  Finally, they got what they thought they never would.  Of course, here she finally gets this little bundle of joy she has been hoping for, and she receives an equally bundle of not-joy by learning that she has Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Back then, the best form of treatment was a cocktail of *ironically-enough* chemo drugs along with spot treatment for problem joints i.e.: I very fondly remember bi-weekly visits to get her joints drained... without numbing... ... very large needle sucking out the fluid... I told, you, she's got a definite sticktoitiveness about her.  Well in the late 90's a new RA medication was released.  She quickly got on it, started giving herself the weekly injections, and has been at it since, and in remission no less.  One of the side affects to treating RA which is an auto-immune disease {meaning your body is mistakingly attacking itself} is that you have to immensely suppress your immune system to suppress the RA.  The common cold or the flu, well it would always really get her down.  Her excellent rheumatologist always encouraged her to exercise, so she would walk a few miles every day.  Sometimes we would go to the park and I'd ride my bike, and sometimes we'd stick to the neighborhood, but she always did it.  Rain. Or. Shine. She always did it.

Fast forward to now, or rather now'ish...  a few months ago she got a cold.  Then she got a cough.  Then the cough would not go away.  With no other major, or really even minor symptoms going on, there was not even the slightest thought to think anything else was going on other then a very cumbersome and very annoying croup.  The first doctor's visit had her back home with cough medicine, as did the second and I believe third, fourth, fifth and twentieth.  Just kidding.  Not really that many, but it was a few non-climactic appointments resulting in nothing.  Not subsiding and actually getting worse, she returned to be checked again for the cough and this time they wanted to check for liquid in or around the lungs and also for rheumatoid nodules {small lumps} that may have formed in her lungs due to tissue inflammation caused by the RA.  The first MRI showed something 'liquid' like on her lung.  Next step and another visit, a CT scan which told a tale of something more...   It looked like there was actually so much liquid in/around her lung that it had now collapsed.  She had the fluid that amounted to about one liter drained.   Troubled by this occurrence, the doctor decided to put a camera down her throat to look around in her lungs to see what was really going on.  Queue discovery number one on Wednesday, September 18th...

I was sitting at my desk, having been ridiculously nervous the past two weeks or so anyhow because nobody likes hearing that their mother is doing MRI's and CT scans for an issue the doctor's can't really put their finger on, my mom text me asking if her and my dad could drive up to discuss the results of the tests.  Choke.  Literally... no breath, black haze, heavy chest...  I instantly knew the results were not good.  I told Nicholas and when he got home, they followed minutes behind.  We sat and made annoying chit chat all the while I'm trying to remain calm, cool and collected because I know that my parents, no matter what is about to come out of their mouths, will stay calm, cool and collected and let's face it, I always am and always have been the first one to cry, so, I thought that maybe this could be my chance to hold it together for once...

My mother could not say it out loud.  She simply whispered through tears, "It's not good. I just can't say it... Tom, please you say it..."  At which my dad said, "It is cancer."

My first reaction was anger.  I was instantly fuming at how a simple cold and cough could turn into "it is cancer".  How in the world does *that* happen?  No. Sense.  It made no sense.

He continued, "When they put the camera down they noticed something on what they think is just her bronchial tube.  They decided to take a biopsy which is going to be tested.  But, the doctor could immediately tell and is 99% positive, it is cancer."

I got really teary, and silently those tears just fell slowly down my cheek like an end-of-summer waterfall trickling away.  I was proud that I didn't throw up.  I was proud that I didn't start into one of those dramatic wails.  I was proud that I didn't pass out!  I was proud that, hand in hand with my mother, I just said, "Okay."

Sidenote: The dramatic wailing... the panic... the nearly passing out... it all happened with Nicholas cradling me on the rug by the front door after coming home from attending our religious meeting and going to dinner with a couple of our closest friends.  The shock set in and thankfully, as of yet, I've not had an episode to match it, but, an episode it was, good Lord I've never been that panic stricken.  It took weeping through a prayer with my husband to pull us out of it.

Okay, so the next matter to address was this:  Months ago I booked a wedding in New York {yay!}.  Nicholas and I get accepted to a special event in Europe and decide to adventure for nearly a month through Europe {double yay!}.  We come back and decided Nicholas probably shouldn't take any more time off work to go to New York with me {meh, it was okay}.  So I ask my my mom if she wants to come to New York with me, it's a yes; start planning the girl trip {yay!}.  A month goes by and my ill grandfather finally is able to go to rest and therefore my dad wants to join us gals on our New York adventure {yay again!}.  Well now, we can't have a family trip to New York with out having Nicholas, let's just book him a few days with us at least {triple yay!}.  A month goes by and now here we were back to the afore mentioned Wednesday, September 18th getting this hellish news... will this family trip still be happening?  Why of course it will.  You see, as I mentioned before, my mother is superwoman so of course nothing was going to stop her.  They wouldn't get the biopsy results back for a week or so, the cough she still had was absolutely horrid and uncomfortable but not contagious, she had limited lung capacity but could "still breathe" in her words, and the doctor gave her the okay to go, so of course sillies, we went!

Nicholas and I could not have asked for a more extraordinary traveling experience.  We have done some seriously marvelous adventuring in the past couple of years, but as it turns out, nothing compares to showing your parents around one of, if not *the* most favored of cities we've been in yet.  Not to mention, we really needed to go slow.  When was the last time you patiently, meandered through the busiest city in the world?  New York City, the city famous for it's hustle and bustle... here we were forced to pause, reflect, plan, not plan, breathe {seriously, which was hard for mom at times! that term 'just breathe' has an exponentially different/added meaning now!}, touch, feel, listen, really just be in tune with this already distinguishably special place in a way that we never had been before.  I was nervous.  I was a bit anxious.  But, it all went so spectacularly.  It was difficult because it was clear my mother's body was drastically different then anything she or anyone else has ever known it to be.  Slow walk after slow walk, patient breaks and long, leisurely nights in just laughing over pizza and wine and chocolate, we made our way through the sunny and warm city.  Together Nicholas and I took my parents all through Brooklyn, The Heights and Carroll Gardens which we LOVE.  We all shared one of *the* most memorable brunches at a spot we frequent with every visit.  And it was all the most superfluously personal traveling we've ever done.  We sauntered down quaint streets, hustled to catch taxi cabs, slid in and out of subways, all the while sharing tidbits of memories here and there of our past New York experiences and all the little things we love about the place.  It meant, for lack of a better term, 'the world', to bond over this togetherness and this time.

I got to take my parents to my favorite place in Central Park, 'The Mall', which is a promenade lined with a long archway of grandfather-like American Elm trees.   Earlier in the day we took a tour of the Met and then entered the park at which point we stumbled across the Conservatory Water park where you can sail the model boats.  This was new for me!  Nicholas and I had never been to this area before so imagine me being thrilled to share a new experience with my parents, just the three of us {Nicholas had flown out earlier that morning}.  We found a bench and we sat down.  There was a jazz duo playing across the water and snippets of standing bass and saxophone whistled their way over to us.  My dad took my mom's hand then he said, "Kiss me.  Kiss me in Central Park."  I snuck a quick snap of them holding hands while this happened which is the photo shared above.

It was hard at this moment for me not to go face plant into the pretty, boat filled pond and just not come up for air.  My heart was at that moment so happy to be sharing such a beautiful twinkling of time, but at nearly the same moment so, so sad to envision the equally somber future that may, or may not, come.

A few days into the trip and a bit scared that New York was amounting to be something too much for them with their conditions, I asked them if they were okay and if they were even enjoying themselves.  With heavy, heartfelt eyes, the kind that shine through a smile, in fact, the kind where you're so happy you can't smile and you're trying not to cry, they responded, "Yes, we are having such a wonderful time."  To date, the happiest memories of my life have came from this recess in a city now even dearer in my heart.  Well, we of course all had to come home at some point.  We had to come home to reality.  Reality was a week of doctor's visits and more hideous nervousness until finally, it was Thursday, October 3rd...

I was sitting at my desk,  my mom text me asking if her and my dad could drive up to discuss the results of the tests.  Choke.  Literally... no breath, black haze, heavy chest...  I instantly knew the results were not good.  I told Nicholas and when he got home, they followed minutes behind.  We sat and made annoying chit chat all the while I'm trying to remain calm, cool and collected because I know that my parents, no matter what is about to come out of their mouths, will stay calm, cool and collected and let's face it, I always am and always have been the first one to cry, so, I thought that maybe this could be my chance to hold it together for once... oh wait, this sounds familiar doesn't it...

My father proceeded, "It's not good. The cancer is in her lung.  It is in her brachial tube.  It is in her lymph nodes.  And it is in her brain."

I must have really been in utter shock.  A few random tears fell.  That was it.

We discuss the rest of the details.  We change the subject.  We return to the subject only to change it again.  Then, it was time to say goodbye.  Then, my head nestled deep into my moms sweet, soft neck so that the skin was against mine and the scent of her perfume in my head holding me inside and out just like I used to do when she would rock me to sleep and sing to me in our rocking chair the lullaby with my name that she made up, then I wept.  And she wept with me.  And she told me, "It's going to be alright."  And I said, "I just love you so much."

Now... Tuesday, October 8th, here we are.  The weekend was a long array of teary exchanges and embraces of telling people the news.  And it is just so strange.  It is so strange and so awkward and so bizarre.  It is flabbergasting.  It is completely one of those, 'this SO is not happening' moments.   This entire past year, go through this here blog, my little journal of my work and my heart and my head, you'll see that this year and since turning 27 especially, it has been the absolutest of absolute best and worst times.  Personally I've never been tested in so many ways and so many forms by the imperfection of this world and it's people including even those closest to me, as I have recently.  Convinced I'd need "power beyond what is normal" to survive, I turned to God's word for guidance.  I've been forced by what I've seen and felt and lived and survived to relinquish nearly all power over this life of mine and living it for 'me', and devote it to trying my best to live it for him.  Doing so, and really, doing so in the past 8 or so months, has made me a different person.  I've seen it create different, beautiful people in my parents, in much of my family, in my close friends, and even in my best friend and partner, Nicholas.

So now, as we all must continue on, I again think of the words in Romans 15:13, "May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your trusting in him, so that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit."  My mother wants to remain as positive and as joyous about the privilege of life she's been given as long as life is with her, whether that be a short or long amount of time.  Therefore, that is my goal as well.  Being as strong as she is, well I've always wanted to be, so thanks mom, what a way to teach me... *smile*.  I know that her and I, and her and I and my dad and Nicholas and so many of those close to us have a loving God ready to *fill* us with joy and peace if we trust in him.  So that is what we will do.  I know the honest prospects the future possibly could present us with.  I can't control those things.  Our bodies are imperfect and the environment we live in even more so.  I can't change those things.  I can control my efforts toward being positive.  And I can change the effort I extend to be devoted to what and whom I love most.

Any and all things Cozbi Jean Photography are in a bit of limbo at the moment.  I have weddings to complete editing on.  I have a wedding to photograph this weekend and then one more lined up in May.  Other then that, this beautiful extension of my heart will not be receiving as much of me as it previously has.  Please, please help me in not giving up hope of any kind let alone hope in this little venture of mine.  CJP will not cease to exist however it may simply exist in what may teeny tiny ways at times.  I just don't know yet.  There is a lot I don't know.  I do know that I am grateful for my life, the lovely bits and even the ugly bits.








*A detail I can add about my mom: the doctors are proceeding with treatment.  The first step is radiation which starts in a few days.  Then they will go from there.  Most likely chemo will begin asap however they are seeing if she will be able to do a different then usual and new form which is found to be better for the patient.  I'd share more but I'm still trying to get more educated in all the new diction and medical jargon.

**Thank you for reading this.  If you've gotten here to the end then that means you stuck with me and my glaringly incorrect composition and writing skills.  It was a bit of a healing process just gathering my thoughts enough to get them out so this has been an aide to maintaining a little more sanity.

***Mom and dad, if you read this whole thing, then the last thing I need to write is, I love you with my whole heart.











6 comments:

  1. I read your whole post. ;) I am so so sorry to hear about your mom. I will keep you in my prayers. Cozbi you are such a beautiful person inside and out and I hope that you keep all the love and support around you that you need as you go through this experience.

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  2. I don't know what to say...except I've been through this and know how it can be. Stay strong, stay positive. Keep the ones you love even closer. Pray incessantly. It won't be long and we'll get to do the things that we once loved; with the ones we have always loved.

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  3. Cozbi, Im at a loss for words. I dont even know what to say, except that I am so so sorry. My heart hurts for your family. You all sound so strong and I am glad you are relying on Jehovah. Someday he will fix all of this. Let me know if you need anything at all. Love you!!!
    -Jessee Foltz

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  4. Oh Cozbi, my heart aches for you. Let God carry the burden of your pain and fill your heart with the light to carry your mother through this difficult time. Your mother, she sounds like an amazing woman with an equally amazing daughter. In his name, I will pray for your family.

    Rosanna

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  5. Cozbi- my hearts breaks for you and your family. We are not meant to go through these things. I understand your feelings, as I read this it brought back painful memories. But be assured that I also never felt closer to Jehovah during those times as I felt him grasping my right hand and that of my moms. Lots of love and prayers. Lisa Rescorla

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  6. I am heartbroken after reading this post. I'm so sorry, Cozbi. You and your mother and your family are in my thoughts.

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