Last week I was emailed by the lovely organizer of the Portland Brain Tumor Walk and asked to speak briefly in front of the audience of participants. I was honored by the invitation and a bit daunted by what I might say. Little did I know that Gilbert and I would be standing in front of over 1500 attendees!
While I raced around town, trying to find a fresh white Gilbert-sized t-shirt on which to have our Team Isamu logo printed, I thought hard about what it was that I wanted to convey. This would be a gathering of people all touched in some way or another by a brain tumor. Just like us.
It was the ‘just like us’ part that really got me. While I decided to focus on inspiration, I also knew in my heart that I needed to make a public apology. I needed to apologize to “her”. This is what I said:
The apology I want to make is to a woman whose name I don’t know. I can barely remember what she looks like. In June of 2000, when Isamu and I attended our first Brain Tumor Walk on Angel Island outside of San Francisco, where we were living at the time, a woman got up to honor her husband. She was a mama. She had two children by her side, about Gilbert’s age. And she was a widow. My face tightened as she spoke. Inside my body I covered my ears and screamed “la la la la la” to block out every word she said.
I was there with the love of my life. . . Isamu. We were determined. Our lives were full and rich and we were finally about to start a family together. I didn’t have the capacity to hear what she was saying. I had to block her out. I had to to stand on the side of hope and hope alone. And that hope was a selfish and narrow hope. I could not fathom the reality of her life.
And for that, I am sorry.
As I was on stage, speaking these words, Gilbert at my side fighting back tears, I realized that to some people in the audience, I was her. I was the one that was being blocked out with covered ears and chants of aversion. I was the one delivering the message of hope couched in the repulsiveness of loss. I recognized the wives with their arms crossed over their chests. And I met their eyes, if only for a mili-second. And once again, I felt sorry. Sorry for being ”her”.
Several years ago I read an article in the Utne Reader while riding a stationary bike. The article spoke about how some people suffer post-traumatic stress while others experience post-traumaticgrowth. I was heartened by the article as it touched on my own experience of loss and grief ~ a loss and grief that have lead me on a pursuit of healing and helping. I may be mixing Utne issues or articles, but I also remember an interview with Matt Sanford, a paraplegic yoga instructor who had been injured in a car accident that killed his father and sister when he was only 13-years old.
In the article Matt says:
The really negative effect of trauma is that it dulls you, it deadens you. You’re no longer in pain, but you’re numb, and most people who have been through a lot of trauma at first have to be numb and only later can the trauma be transformed into possibility, into hope.
While I am still sorry that I blocked out my widow-sister eleven years ago, I am not sorry for becoming her. In becoming her I have experienced tremendous growth. I am not dull or numb. I am motivated. I am inspired. I am full of hope.
featured August class
Sweet Tooth, Bitter Truth
Start the school year off right ~ for you and the kids!
THE #1 STEP to thriving lies in the understanding of this anti-nutrient.
In this course you’ll gain the knowledge and obtain the resources you need to make the change that you’ve been craving. Cookies? Candies? We’ve got you covered. Facing the sugar blues does not have to be about deprivation.
In April, Gary Taubes’ article Is Sugar Toxic? was released in the pages of the New York Times. Everyone’s curiosity about sugar was piqued. Was it true? Sweet Tooth takes the information Taubes’ provided several steps further, bringing it right home to your life and into your kitchen. With information, recipes and instructions on which alternative sweeteners to stock in your cupboard and when to use them, you’ll finally be poised to combat the fatty liver, insulin resistance and cancer risk that Taubes wrote about.
Because I think this course is so important, no matter what your existing knowledge on the subject, I’m offering a Special Back-To-School Discount for these dog days of summer.
Click here to learn more about Sweet Tooth. Bitter Truth
For your $20 savings enter the special discount code: backtoschool
(Discounted investment is only $47. Available TODAY through August 28th only.)
What else is on my plate this month?
Homemade Sassafras Root Beer
A project, but a fun one! Try with honey in place of the sugar. Get earthy and cool off!
Creamy Cashew Kale & Chickpeas
One of those easy, throw-together, summer’s end meals.
Raw Chocolate Raspberry Mini Pies
Of course I’m always a fan of replacing the agave, but that can easily be done with raw honey (reduce quantity slightly) or yacon syrup. I tried the latter and added a bit of liquid stevia to round out the sweetness.
Carrot Quinoa Bars
These haven’t graced our plates yet, but they look like they’ll double as a quick breakfast bar when dashing out the door or a lunch-box treat.
You can read the full Utne Reader interview with Matthew Sanford, entitled Crash Course,
by clicking right here.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Is there an ingredient you'd like to learn more about? Is there a nutrition class you always wish existed? Let me know!