It’s very hard for me to understand why I’m unusual. It’s very hard to believe that standing up for ones self is still considered brave. There are so very many people on earth braver than me. But, I’ve come to understand that for some, brave isn’t really brave. It’s the only choice. I recall cancer at 32 and being at the hotel near Rochester prior to a 6 am call for surgery. Mom said how brave I was. It’s not brave to choose between life and death when those are literally your only choices. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer years later. I asked her as she went for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, “do you feel brave?” She laughed knowing exactly what I was talking about. Then said, “I feel like I want to kick it’s ass.” I laughed. I didn’t feel any need to discuss it further. Neither did she.
But that’s not what I’m getting at. There are those of us who know how very lucky we are to be alive. We’re a fairly exclusive club that prefers not to talk about it. I did the little dance I was raised to do. I got married, had a kid and got diagnosed with cancer. I survived. After surviving, I realized I wasn’t happy. I still stayed in that life hoping everything I’d been taught would come true. It took 7 years before I felt I could get out and seek my own version of happiness.
Divorce was not easy. My family and his were not easy. Explaining to my son was not easy. But nothing worth fighting for is easy.
I gave up my newly built bilevel in the suburbs. I gave up my SUV. I traded it all for my little shack built in 1961. I gave up my marriage for the chance to make my own way. I gave up traditional for what’s actually possible. I decided a strong female example was better for my son than a sad, traditional mom. He doesn’t always agree.
But we look at our house and our swings in the yard, our old patio and the drum set he has in the basement, and I realize we’re living our lives on our terms. He’s almost there. If he isn’t now, I know he will be one day.