It has been fabulous to have an extra week away from chemo. I feel like my mind has some space to clear away the fuzziness I can get from the drugs.
Coincidentally, I’ve been talking with quite a few people about the anti-nausea drugs that I take and don’t take. One of them turns me into a different person. When I take it, I know that I am not thinking the way I usually do or acting the way I want to act, but I can’t help it. If someone were to tell me that I am being irrational, or that what I see isn’t really true, I become even more irritated, angry or sad, but it doesn’t change my view of reality. I can’t “snap out of it” or use logic. I just am where I am at that time.
That experience has helped me to see how thin the line can be that divides the way we each see the details of life and the feelings that drive our behaviors. It has also helped me to understand that maybe others cannot help what they are doing or saying, and maybe that it all makes sense in their version of reality. I hope it makes me more patient, though I suspect not as much as I would like to believe.
Regardless, I’m always glad when I don’t have to take that drug – I like the version of reality to which I have become accustomed.
In this version, I felt lucky to go to Mass at my parents’ church on Christmas morning with my family, my sister and niece and my parents, taking up an entire pew. Looking around, I noticed a woman in the pew to the left of us holding a baby girl who appeared to be sleeping. The woman was of the age where she could have been either an older mother or a younger grandmother. The baby’s head rested on the woman’s shoulder, on the other side of my view, but her arms lay limp at her sides in such a way that I assumed she had problems with her muscle tone.
I didn’t watch them much after that, though the woman caught my eye when she left the pew and headed to the back of the church, carefully carrying the baby and a diaper bag.
She returned a few minutes later, sat down, then held the baby face-to-face, nuzzling noses. I tried not to stare but noticed the baby’s perfect face.
Turning to my seven-year-old son, I told him, “Look at that perfect little baby. She looks like a doll.”
“She IS a doll,” he hissed at me, indignant at being in church at all and now annoyed to be with a mother so daft as to believe that could be a real baby.
I squinted to study the pair. Yes, it was a doll. But the woman was clearly interacting with the doll as though she were a baby, supporting her head as she held her, and making loving faces at her. She even glowed with the happiness of having a new baby.
I asked my mother, “Is that woman always here?”
“Maybe. I never noticed her before.”
At this point, I made up a story in my head. The woman always wanted to be a mother, I thought. Maybe she got this baby doll for Christmas and, for her, it is as real as any other baby.
As Mass came to a close, she carefully put a warm coat on the baby and lovingly wrapped her in a blanket. As for me, I directed my boys in a different direction so that they wouldn’t helpfully blurt out something like, “Don’t you know that is a doll?”
Who are we to interfere with her reality and her happiness? She clearly wasn’t bothering anyone, the baby (doll) was making her happy, and she got to share her love. We all have our own little version of reality anyway. This is evident when I mediate a disagreement between the kids, each of whom fully believes their own version of the truth. I am reminded of this when someone has the same values as me but their point of view differs radically from my own. And I live this when I take a new drug that shifts my version of what life is like. Through this experience, I hope that I am becoming more able to embrace the variety of views we each carry and meet each person wherever they are at that time. And I appreciate your embrace and good humor along the way!
Lots of love in this new year,