Posts from November, 2012

Ann’s Diary: Ellie’s Wish List

Sometimes things are hard to handle. The loss of friendships, the changing of perspectives, the search to find a “new normal” in whatever trauma we face. And the holidays can be a time when these difficulties make themselves more obvious as we focus on a national time of thanks and thanksgiving. It can force a strange comparison to the expectation of being happy, yet a sadness for what within our lives isn’t going so hot.

It doesn’t have to be cancer: it can be other things. Divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of respect–whatever we endure we do so in what seems to be solitude. And the holidays can make that worse. At least it feels that way for me. Some moments I think I’m the only one in this kind of pain, who should feel happy but who’s feeling blue: the only one with a weight on my shoulders so hard to bear it breaks me down–

and then I remember that we are all like that. We all have this in our worlds. No matter the list, no matter the family, no matter the season–our joys and our pains are universal. I take comfort in knowing this–a sad comfort but a comfort nonetheless–that while I hate sadness and despair, I hate solitude worse. So knowing that I am not alone in my confusion and angst, especially when bells are jingling and turkeys are roasting, makes those horrible feelings less crippling to bear. We are all fighting something–separately yes: but in that common fight we are all in “it” together.

Today I was reminded that even the youngest and most innocent of us have weights on our shoulders. The little people’s fears may not be as obvious or as outward as ours, but they are there just the same. And some times they come out in the most beautiful, innocent and heart-jarring ways…

like this note, that I found taped to my front door (and subsequently hung in every room in my house) in my 10-year-old daughter’s handwriting. It helped me remember two things: that while all life is uncertain, and my life especially so, other people’s worlds are in just as much upheaval. And holding to each other as the bad times wash over is one way for me to make it through to the place where I’m left still standing there, holding onto a hand for strength.

In the potential moments of despair this season I will turn to this note and find the joy in it: I’ll rejoice that I am still here in life to actually make a Christmas Wish List at all. In fact I consider it high praise from a little girl who’s biggest wish-list-want has only ever been her American Girl dolls. Now it’s her American Mom on there too–though I don’t need a mini cello, a tiny flute, or a dog name Chocolate. But a breast cancer cure would be nice…

I do hope Santa is listening.

Posted November 20th, 2012
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Summer Time

I know somebody who lost their 16 year old daughter to cancer last night.

I can’t write the right words because I don’t know what they are. How do you say this is so wrong? Unthinkable? Sad and scary? Heartbreaking? How do I say all these things and so much more–all with the angst I feel inside me–which can’t possibly bleed through a keyboard, a website and a send button to outer-cyber-space with the meaning it holds in my heart?

It’s impossible.

I do need to weigh in on this though because this girl’s mother is my friend. And I feel inadequately far away for giving the hugs and love I wish I could foist on this friend of mine at such a horribe, horriffic, mothers-worst-nightwmare moment of her life—and yet I’m stuck several states away with nothing but this computer to pour my feelings into. So that is what I will do:

Lynne: you are my hero. I know in your mind your daughter Summer was the real hero and she was–from what I read about her last days on earth–she WAS.

And your son–and their father–all of you are true soldiers in this strange, faceless, nameless fight–the one fought by parents-of-children who die too soon for reasons they shouldn’t be taken. It’s inconceivable, and the rest of us parents are shaking in our shoes that we should some day be forced into this march of sad parents looking for our little ones, hoping it was all a mad, sad dream and we’ll be awoken from it screaming to find our little one standing over us telling us he or she is okay.

As someone who knows nothing of your pain, please know that you are with me tonight as if you were standing in front of me. I am sick with grief, I am bereft with tears and I am stunned with sadness. This is so wrong I can’t stand it.

Just know that I am sending love to all of you–parents, step-parents, brother, friends–and all those blessed to know your dear Summer. There’s no other way to say this–

I love you all. And I will promise you this:

From now on, with every mid-June, each beautiful July sunset, with every gorgeous August moon, with every cocktail held up to the admiration of a fabulous blue sky summer day, I will now hold a deeper sense of gratitude and greater sense of meaning as I thank the world for the gorgeous time I’m experiencing….–and the young woman whose name is forever linked to those moments. From this minute forward I will always raise her name in toast whenever one of these wonderful moments graces my world, and I’ll say it out loud: to “Summer Time”.

I promise you Lynne she will not be forgotten.

Posted November 12th, 2012
Posted in: Ann's Diary

Ann’s Diary: Politics In The Pink

The election is over, my show is done, and now it’s a quick slide into Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hannukkah and all the other winter holidays celebrated in this country.

I am happy the election and the show are over, mostly because they both contained a lot of drama, a lot of hype and for those who cared about them, a lot of emotional weight. It’s nice to have that weight cut loose, at least from my shoulders–and it’s time for action in both places. President Obama, The House, and The Senate have much to do to help ease this country out of its continued economic troubles, and I hope they have success. After all, their triumph will be our triumph–at least those of us living in the United States of America.

My show, on the other hand, has much less dramatic consequences. It was, I can tell you, a wonderful, exciting, frightening ride to accomplish for myself–and you were all with me in spirit, if not in that room when I performed last month outside of Boston, MA. If you couldn’t make it but wanted to, don’t despair–someone is making a DVD of the production and I’ll have them here if you’d like to get one.

A photographer captured the event as well, and as soon as I get the photos I’ll post here–and reminisce more about how it went, how I felt, and what my favorite moments where in the 30 minute, laugh-out-loud account of one woman’s journey through trauma and the insights she shares that might help audience members as they deal with loved ones going through their own stuff in life. Friends get sick, lose jobs, have parents who get divorced: how do we help? What can we do? That is the message of my one act play “In The Pink”, developed and written by Virginia Byrne and yours truly, Ann Murray Paige. More on that when the pics come in.

For now I hope you get a break today from the stress of the election, if you felt any. Enjoy the silence of the lack of political ads on TV and the radio. Pull up the signs from your front lawns–or else leave them there if you’re celebrating your person’s win—whatever works. But above all else, feel my gratitude and thanks for your constant “votes” of confidence for me as I “campaigned” my way through a new and unusual-for-me medium in which to tell my story–the theatre.

The intended result of my little “campaign”, while not anything as world-affecting as the battle between Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama, is an awareness/solidarity for we who know people affected by trauma. And isn’t that everybody? The message of “In The Pink” is not “you’re gonna get ill”, it’s “someone we know will get “something” in life and we’re gonna be there watching. Should we run the other way? Ignore their pain? Pretend it didn’t happen?”

No. We are all in this world together and that’s what will get us through: sticking together. We can reach our hands out to help each other as we go through the ups and downs that life brings–in my experience that’s the sure way for all of us to win whatever campaign we find ourselves in throughout our lifetimes.

And suddenly this sounds like a political commercial! “Vote for my show, I’ll give you the WORLD on a platter!” Hell no, I can’t do that. I can’t even promise my husband I’ll cook dinner tonight. But this IS reminding me of the political gridlock in D.C. that the end-of-the-election now points to. None of our peeps in and around the White House can seem to work with each other–and this country suffers because of it.

Hey Newly Elected/Re-elected Politicians: I have no idea where you stand on your issues, who your constituents are or where your money base comes from. I don’t know your intentions or who you call your friends. I just know that when all is going wrong, the best chance for getting through the crap in life is to stick together and muddle through it–united. Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, politics–like illness–is made worse with isolation and made better with togetherness. How do I know this…

Because for the last 8 years I’ve been beating off cancer with a medical/emotional stick, and I’ve had lots of other hands holding that stick when I couldn’t. And thanks to them I’m still here. I’ve never been in politics but I’ve been in an infusion center, a radiation room and on a surgery table. I never ever felt better by pushing people away—only by bringing them close…

try it and see if it works in D.C.

Posted November 7th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Politics In The Pink
Posted in: Ann's Diary