Down River

I’ve not yet read the book, but it sure has a good looking cover.  And I really like the title to boot!  So, I keep the book handy – by my bedside in case I get the urge to actually read.  I like to be prepared.  Especially when it comes to indulging my desire to read, since reading is supposed to help thwart the onset of Alzheimer’s – and you never know what is coming at you down river.


Today is my last day of therapy with my Kelly.  I am sad that she is completing her term as a fill-in for a maternity.  Sad – may not be the right word.  I’m not really sad.  Being sad would imply a negative emotion filled with the angst of loss – and that’s not me right now.  I think it is more that I am feeling appreciative and anxious to be able to thank her appropriately for everything she has done for me.  Yes. That’s it – anxious.  In a good way.  I find myself a bit stumped over how to show her how much I’ve learned, how much confidence I have gained, and how good I feel about my life right now.  A scarf?  (She always liked the scarves I wore to our session.)  A concrete gift, though, just doesn’t seem enough. There are times when something concrete and tangible seems to be so inadequate to express appreciation for saving me from drowning.

There was a time, during my last chemo session, when I felt I would not ever be able to come up for air.  I will never forgot that feeling.  I felt like I was immersed in a pool of water and although I saw the surface, I just couldn’t reach it to take a breath.  Maybe it was the drugs?  Maybe it was my emotions?  Maybe it was just too fucking hot this summer? I don’t know.  I just couldn’t get a handle on things – life was flying by too quickly and I was desperate to create a memory.  You know, sometimes I felt that I was dying and every moment I missed was a gem slipping through my fingers.  “Is it like you are floating down a river and can’t quite reach the shore?”.

“Yes!” She nailed it.  That’s all I needed.  I was speeding down the Petawawa River in a broken canoe, dragging my feet to try to gain control, while the banks zipped by me.  Life was passing by – and I couldn’t stop it – until I could get a handle on the analogy that was alluding me.  I walked out of her office a new woman.  I wasn’t right – but I was going to be.  And I knew it.  Kelly told me what I needed to hear. It was my story, really, but she made it fit my picture.

She did this often.  She turned my story back into mine so I could take control of it again.  Words are so important to me.  They are my salve.  When I am not collected on the inside, they sort me out to make me whole.  When I am broken with despair, they are my glue which builds me back up.  Kelly reminded me, always, of this life strategy.  And I needed much reminding.  She helped me to find my words.

How can one find a way to say thank-you for that – other than by using words.  I hope these words will give Kelly the affirmation that she gave me; “You are good.  You are going to be okay.  The river will calm down eventually and you will be able to get out.”

Kelly taught me that I already had the lesson in me I needed.  I know the strategies.  I know about filling buckets, and circles of life, and letting go… I know about the power of positive thinking, focusing on the here and now, while getting my estate in order.  I don’t need these kinds of lessons.  God knows I’ve taught them enough that I could recite them in my sleep.  What make Kelly different – from all the rest – was that I considered her a friend.  I didn’t need a therapist, I needed a friend.  And I got one.  Now, don’t get me wrong because although I considered her a friend, she was too professional to cross that boundary.  We would have been good friends.  I know my current friends would have loved to meet her and would have offered to her life too.  And that is part of my sorrow for the day… today I must say good-bye.

I find I am struggling with the need to say thank you and the need to say good bye all at once.  I could wallow in that all day long, but then, the gratitude I feel would be lost in translation.  Kelly would not be happy with me at all.. and her work would have been for naught.  On that note, I will turn my thinking in another direction – down river.  I will imagine the great things that await down river and, instead of fighting the current, let the current carry me there.  When one door closes, a window opens.

I do hope that Kelly feels the same way.  I remember how tough it was to walk away from the work you have done for so long – to leave the people you loved to work with – in the past.  I went in to work, to my class, the Friday after my Tuesday diagnosis – to say thank you and good-bye.  I cried.  The students cried. We were all rather stunned at what had just happened.  We were taken aback at how quickly life can change.  I was so terribly sad.  Depleted.  It was one of the most difficult things I had done during my career.  I didn’t know if I would ever be back – or see my students graduate.  They didn’t know if I would be back either – – or what to do.  It turns out that a week or two later, they sent me a beautiful card with quotes from me which I had offered them during class.  To be remembered like that was so very powerful.  I laughed when I read, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty..” as it was a line from West Side Story – a clip I played one morning and sang to them to wake them up.  It made all of us smile.

Who knows what awaits us down river?  No one.  But as long as we enjoy the water,  rather than fight the current, we are in for one hell of a ride!  Oh, and all the while, feeling pretty doesn’t hurt either!  Grin.

TTFN, Kelly! Thanks for the ride!

About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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5 Responses to Down River

  1. Jan says:

    Stacey, I think that what you have written here this morning will serve as a meaningful THANK YOU to Kelley, affirming her important role in your healing process.

  2. Judy says:

    Reading your post had me emotional – I was thinking of the relationship I have with my therapist. She’s sharing my healing journey and I love her dearly; she is my friend. But also a true professional and someday I will have to say goodbye to her.

    My coping method has been one of reframing my stories to be positive ones. Every feeling is usually related to the story behind it. When I rewrite the story, I usually feel a lot better. It seems to me that you did just that with your analogy of floating down the river. And believe it or not, I considered my grief journey to be one where I felt like I was drowning in a river, too. I was able to even write a poem about how beautiful it was for me to reach a new shore, stand up and celebrate my survival.

    But aside from my story, your story makes my eyes glisten and brings a smile. I do understand how how it must be to say goodbye. The word that popped up for me was “current.” Stacey, you are in the current – the here and now! Keep sailing and I’m enjoying reading about your travels.

    Oh, and I love the picture above, too!

  3. Wonderful when you find someone who is so tuned in to you – one person like that once helped me through a really bad time and I’ve never forgotten her. Your writing is impressive and just keeps getting better and better. I am sure it will be helpful to others.

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