Friday, May 2, 2014

Making Sense of May

So May. Here we are again. 

I am tempted, some days, to say “May” like Jerry Seinfeld used to say “Newman”, this month of double awareness.   I don’t know why some days the weight of this gets to me, that NOW WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF NF AND BRAIN TUMORS. I can’t remember the last day I was NOT aware, so, what’s with May?

Especially since so many of my friends are in both of these communities, social networking is overflowing with awareness facts, pictures, graphics, etc.  I find that inspiring, motivational, depressing, and overwhelming all at the same time.

See why it is hard for me to even pick out a paint color? I am perpetually conflicted. 

 Reading through my blog from last year, where I describe our family’s journey…ugh. I know that was an important thing to do, but it is way past “merely a flesh wound!” , if you know what I mean.   If you want to know what life is like with NF and brain tumors (and why I am scary), that’s a pretty good place to start.

But I had a thought today while running, once I got to a quiet side street where I was not just thinking “yikes, another landscape truck? Dodge! Dodge!” (meaning my action, not the truck brand).  Today is gorgeous. Spectacular. Right now it’s about 63 degrees and brilliantly sunny, the forsythia are blooming and the flowering trees are flowering, I could hear birds chirping and squirrels scratching at trees (I double checked, I had a moment of worrying that it might be a larger woodland creature, but no, just a squirrel). It was GORGEOUS.  I don’t like running, and today I really felt tired, but the beauty of the day just hugged me.

Two days ago it was 43 degrees and raining here, like Noah digging out plans for an ark kind of rain.   Roads are still closed by us due to flooding (I toyed with the idea of adding a mile to the run to go SEE the flooding, but then my body told my brain to shut up and head back home).   This winter was epic, even by the standards of the northeast, we had so much snow, my early perennials were very late this year because the gardens were buried under 2 feet of snow until March.

Youngest child & dog, walking ON TOP of 15 inches of snow. Cold. Cold cold cold.

The dark, the cold, the endless precipitation—it was a tough winter.
my viburnum after storm #493

I don’t know what May is like in other parts of the country.   But here—well, in another week or two we’ll be past the danger of frost and I can plant annuals in my flower pots.  Our yard finally needs to be mowed for the first time this year. Everything that was brown and frozen and ugh is now alive and lush and beautiful…

Not fully grown, my evening primrose are still only an inch off the ground, the butterfly bush is just getting its first green buds, the hydrangea and viburnum are just showing where their leaves will burst forth in a few weeks. By the end of May, this potential green will be realized. 
my viburnum today, buds galore!

In Jersey—and much of the northeast, I figure-- May is a month of rebirth, of everything finally emerging from winter and bringing relief and hope that summer really is around the corner.  Winter (especially this year) is so long and so hard, it makes us appreciate so much more when spring finally comes.  The air just smells good today.  The birds sound so happy (the winter was so quiet).  I am so happy that May is finally here!

I had this thought, while running, a thought that having both Brain Tumor and NF awareness in the same month is really so meaningful…because May is so much a month of hope. We’ve had terrible losses in May, terrible grief over friends we love, lost to these two awful things…but there is still hope in the midst of that…hope that our love and memory for these children and adults can fuel our work for a cure.

Brain tumors and NF are both scary frozen wastelands a lot of the time. Nothing about either is nice…BUT within the communities that have grown around these dastardly beasts there is hope and love and a sense that we are moving towards summer.  Right now we may only see potential for a cure, for treatments that work without destroying a child’s future, for understanding the cellular mysteries NF and brain tumors hold…

But just like my viburnum and my hydrangea, that potential WILL come to fruition. I really think it will—and the hope and new life and green and sunshine of May are a WAY better time to think about these awful things, to see them in the sunlight of hope. 
By August the sedum this owl is guarding will be taller than the owl.

Ok, that sounds maudlin, but I really don’t mean it that way.  If both months were in February I would have to hide under my bed.  Having May be the awareness month for both of these things that have truly changed everything about our family is in some ways a blessing.  The beauty of this month can be a hopeful lens through which to present and understand the realities of brain tumors and NF.

We appreciate the green and warm and sun so much more after the awfulness of the winter we had.  And after the awfulness of rather a lot of the last almost 10 years, I appreciate the hope that is fostered in this month of May.

Next Tuesday is MRI day. We may be basking in sunshine or once again hoping for that potential yay to find us again…I don’t know. But I am trying, fighting against my wintry self to see the hope in each day of May, instead of the painful reminders of what’s past…to see the hope.  

Live. Hope. Find a Cure.