We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Real Hero's

Last night was an evening I had been planning and looking forward to for a few weeks.

One of my favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, did a book signing. The last signing of his I went to was on 06/06/03, almost 9 years to the date of this one. At that point his book "Running With Scissors" was just exploding and was on the best sellers list. He was promoting his latest book, "Dry". I had him sign those two books plus his first one, a novel "Sellevision". I even had my picture taken with him. There were maybe 50 people there at that first signing. I even had a nice chat with him. I had emailed him prior to the signing and he emailed me back the next day and referenced our conversation. "Running With Scissors" literally changed my life for the better. I put him on a pedestal and have bought all of us subsequent books, "Magical Thinking", "A Wolf At The Table", "Possible Side Effects" and "You Better Not Cry". His latest, "This Is How" is a self help book. I also have the memoir his brother, John Elder Robison, wrote "Look Me In The Eye".

Beya and I got to the signing an hour early and there were only a handful of chairs available. We got some pretty good seats and within 10 minutes of showing up all the chairs were taken up and people were sitting on the floor. By the time he came there were easily 300+ people and some weren't even allowed on the third floor because the room was so full.

I grabbed his latest book, which I hadn't bought yet, and flipped through it during the hour mom and I waited. There was a chapter titled "How To Be Sick". I read it and in it he talks of going through the death of his former boyfriend, dealing with all the things that are NOT normal that become your new normal. Some of the things he wrote I didn't agree with and other things were spot on. I struggled to keep my tears at bay and had an anxiety attack that I have no idea how I kept from becoming a full blown panic attack.

Augusten arrived.

My hero.

The man who changed my life.

The man who I admired so much.

Augusten was there and I was in the same room, only a few feet away from him.

He said he would read part of a chapter and then do a Q & A session before sitting down to do the signing.

"The chapter I'm going to be reading from is called 'How To Be Sick'."


Of all the damn chapters he could pick to read from, he picks the ONE that I didn't want to hear out loud?



Augusten started to read. He read about getting the handicapped placard and license plate and that when this happens you should treat yourself to cupcakes.

The memory of going to the DMV with sissy to get her placard immediately came to my mind. How much it sucked that she needed this. How horrifying it was that her doctor had written it good for 5 years. How scary it was to think that she would need this for five years. How utterly terrifying it was to think of what was going to happen after the five years were up.

Tears were streaming down my and mom's faces, I didn't even bother to try to hide it because I knew it wasn't going to stop.

And the audience laughed.

They laughed.

I'm going to paraphrase here but he went on to read that you need to treat yourself when you get bad news. If the doctor calls to review your test results over the phone, you get fries. If the doctor insists on reviewing them with you in person, you get cheese fries.

Again they laughed.

I, of course, remembered Tuesday, May 5th, 2009. Sissy was at my house when she got the call from her surgeon after he did the biopsy saying he needed to talk to her in person immediately.....and to bring her family.

The doctor was confirming our worst fears, that her cancer was back and had spread to her liver. We would find out in the coming days that it had spread to her lungs as well as other places. A month later we would discover her bones her infected.

And people were laughing.

Mom and I were crying.

I understand the importance of laughter when things are so horrible you don't think you can live but.......

It was at that point that I realized who my real hero's are.

My real hero's are the people who have had their lives irreparably and violently ravaged by loss.

My real hero's are:

Jen and Aviana

Holly who lost her dad

Krystal and her two sweet boys

Michelle C. who lost her daughter Kennedy

Michelle F. who lost her brother Giovanni

Kathy P. who also lost her sister from breast cancer and now her mom has cancer

LucyAnn who lost her daughter Samantha

Brittney who lost her dad 

Mary who lost her brother

Beya who lost her daughter

and most of all, 

Asa who lost his mum mum

If I forgot to list your name, please know that my memory is horrible and I'm sorry. 

You are all my real hero's.


Jen said...

Oh honey, all pie plans were put on hold.

How emotional a night that must have been. What a combination of excitement and "good grief" wtf...all mixed into one. Aren't those sorts of things strange when they happen. It's like the night was pinpointed just for you, and you two only. I'm going to send you an email I sent to a friend who watches a specific show I watch and I swear it was on specifically for my eyes only!!

I swear Cameo, what you, Beya, and your whole family have been through...my gosh. A million of those "handicap placard moments" I HATE those moments. Those "kick you in the gut" moments.

I remember we were in the hospital when the woman was writing the thing for our handicap thing. She wrote it for a year, and then said, "Heck, I'm not supposed to do this, but let me go ahead and save you guys some headache and heartache with having to deal with the DMV and go ahead and write this for 3 years." I was stunned and had to literally blink back the tears.

Upper Cut ~ Headache and heartache caused by the DMV? I could take a lifetime of that in comparison to your seemingly sincere, meaning to be helpful, single sentence you just uttered.

Sucker Punch ~THREE YEARS?!? We SURELY won't be needing that DAMN thing in THREE years, not TWO, not even ONE. And here we are THREE YEARS later, and Avi is EXACTLY where she was (actually worse) then that very day in the hospital. Wow.

A million of those tiny french fry, cupcake moments. The crowd laughs. We stuff our faces : ) Shouldn't we be 5000 pounds by now? Thank God I am a stress NOT eater! The crowd laughs. I took such offense when I first read what you wrote, but then I thought, yep...we laugh like a mother all.the.time don't we? We do. Laugh or you'll cry. Laugh or you'll cry. Laugh or you'll cry. Cry anyway.

Cameo ~

I thank you from the very bottom of my heart,









And a MILLION more.


Your soldier.

Jill said...

My father passed in August. As you know, my parents live a half mile from me. We were together every day. Often I talked to you about how close we were. My parents were in a terrible car accident last March leaving my father in one hospital, and my mother in another an hour away. For four months, I had to watch my father die and make all of the decisions for him as he was not able to make them for himself. All the while coordinating my mother's care as she, too, was badly injured in the accident. Dealing with such shock and trauma is something that no one can imagine until you are standing there watching it happen. There is no laughter.
I miss my father every day. The void left there will never be filled....the guilt that the correct choices were not made -- and I can only blame myself.
I understand a little of how you feel...not exactly, but a little.
Loss is awful, but I am trying to be there for my mom. We are creating our new normal. It is one day at a time - and some are better than others.
I am thinking of you - I think of Trina often and I PRAY that there is a Heaven where Trina is sharing a beer with my dad somewhere. That would be nice. I am not sure, but I sure hope so.
I would love to hear from you and wish you wouldn't have gone away. I miss you. I just wanted you to know.

Krystal said...

You know I love you, right? We all face different heartbreaks, and some are just so unbelieveably unfair and crushing and horrible . . . but I so admire each person who faces the worst in this life and keeps going. In spite of the pain, through the pain, around the pain, ignoring the pain - whichever and whatever way you must, you keep going. You are my hero. Beya is my hero. Asa is my hero. Josh is my hero. Papa is my hero. Valentina is my hero. Norm is my hero. And of course, Trina is my hero, too. You do not quit. You keep going. You keep living. You keep loving. You stay together.