Sharon and I have known each other for several years. We met at church and sort of lived on the outskirts of each other’s lives until she joined the mentoring group last year. I love, love, love that she volunteered to write a guest post for me because we are so vastly different. That means that she brings a voice, a life, an experience, and a wisdom to Onward Hoe! that it would never have otherwise. Here she is to tell us her truth.
I have a kinship with the quotation “Keep it copacetic”. I understand the concept of coloring within the lines and I thrive where there is order. I can even enjoy chaos provided there is some semblance of order to it. Organized chaos is my specialty, but only on a limited basis. And therein lies the rub.
Copacetic is defined as something existing within a perfect order. Keeping it copacetic is my attempt to control the how and why of things to create and maintain a perfect order. As a kid I was the fun-loving only child who liked the organized chaos of coercing my friends to push me around on a riding lawnmower because I simply loved to go and needed a way to do so without starting the motor since it was forbidden. I spent afternoons with friends riding our Big Wheels in our basement within the chalked lanes, stop signs, and turn lanes that I created. There was creativity, but existing alongside that was organization and a general framework.
In general this served me well throughout my school years and college. I was an introvert who honed my extrovert tendencies and exercised my leadership to create a narrative for that position and organization. There were few leadership opportunities that I did not seek to tame. I thrived in college because there was a space and time for me to ask questions but operate within a framework that was familiar and over which I had some control. Eventually I graduated with a degree in political science, pre-law concentration and began my work as a paralegal. In all my years of working within the legal field, I have continued to thrive in that ability to operate within a space of systems and structures that can change but don’t do so suddenly and without some warning and some influence or coercion.
Within my personal life, my relationships thrived when I felt safe to be crazy. This likely explains my eventual marriage to a man who is jokingly referred to by many in our social circle as “chaotic evil”. He is the yin to my yang yet we overlap in ways I would not have imagined. There is safety, once again, within that field of operation of allowing free reign within an established set of parameters. I was blissful in entering our relationship and marriage, happy to have the freedom to be less inhibited. So, when I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me without warning, I began to chastise myself for letting down my guard and allowing a less-than copacetic system within my life.
September 8, 2008 marked the date that my world paused unexpectedly while inertia hurtled me forward and somewhere I heard that clichéd record-scratching sound in my head. My husband of eleven months called me at work that morning to say that we’d gotten the results of his recent medical tests and it wasn’t good. Leukemia became the cause of whiplash and an adrenaline surge that propelled me to somehow drive home from work, call family and friends with the most ominous news I’d ever given in my life, and get over to a major medical center to check my husband in that afternoon. There was no passing go and most certainly no collecting $200.00.
Our friends and family surrounded us and it was most certainly a God-send. We met with doctors and nurses, confirmed that it was a type of leukemia that had a specific plan for treatment that would include about two and a half years of various stages of chemo, and discussed our family planning methods more times than I’d like to count since there was no predictor for whether radiation would be a rest stop along the way and how that could affect our future family creation.
One of the main doctors on my husband’s treatment team is nationally known for his development of a specific treatment regime to deal with the type of leukemia that infiltrated. We were encouraged by him to keep our one-year anniversary plans on the calendar so that we’d have a goal in mind. I am ever grateful to that man for giving me that shred of hope three days after my world spun out of control. Whether he knew it or not, he gave my copacetic-adoring heart the jump-start to continue. After a three and a half weeklong intensive treatment regime in the hospital, my husband came home for a few days before we left to celebrate our one year anniversary.
Those three and a half weeks and the months and years that followed spoke to my copacetic-loving heart because I found peace in the fact that there was absolutely nothing that I could do. In this instance, this was a God-thing to heal and to use the doctors and nurses along the way. I could not cushion the blow of a dwindling immune system, but I knew it was to rebuild a healthy one. I could not prevent the chemo medicine from wreaking havoc on his stomach lining, but we knew the outcome would be infinitely better. There was chaos operating within order and there was simply nothing I could do and no responsibility that I had to perform, other than to be there in that experience with my husband and the two of us together seeking to keep our humor and wits about us through it all.
I’m happy to report that we have recently celebrated five years of remission in the only way that is fit: our annual Survivor Party where we invite lots of people, grill lots of food, and have lots of laughs. It symbolizes an annual marker to the survival that my husband celebrates and it reminds me that there was a time in my life that I stared down one of the most dreaded things and still felt peace and eventually deliverance to a celebration along the path.
I wish I could bring that same peace into my churning world now. There are moments when I have ALL THE QUESTIONS and none of the answers. My heart pounds and my temples throb because I simply cannot process all the change, all the frustration, all the unknowns. I desperately hang in the balance of understanding how to have faith and hope and still process the realistic frustrations and disappointments of life.
But then there are moments where I look at the things that celebrate from whence we came and I remember that I am stronger than I thought and my copacetic-seeking heart has found kinship and peace before. There is nothing to prevent that from happening again.
And that’s my truth.