Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Ties that Bind- Scissors anyone? anyone?

The difference between friends and family is that you get to choose your friends. It's not until the we embark on this fun little journey called marriage that we get to choose our family. Even then, sometimes you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have....the facts of life. We have been in the military world for over 12 years and along the way have met many a friend we now label family. They are fortunate enough to not have to share in all our crazy genetic afflictions but are common soldiers in the many social ones we face. Thrown together by chance, staying together by choice. Friends you would drive over 2 state lines(albeit close states lines which technically lead out of one state and back into the other) just for a hug. Family drives 5 hours to give you a hug and then 2 hours to take you over 2 state lines so you can pay it forward. Ah the ties that bind.

When Lily was going through treatment we were very lucky to have a solid support network despite being across an ocean from any family. Our ohana here became friends and neighbors touched by one tough little monkey and the injustice of it all. Family across the ocean did what they could, which was usually sending gifts. I blogged to keep people informed and for my own therapy. Sometimes I worked through and issue by the end of a post, sometimes I just merely realized there was no resolution. You really learn a lot about other people's character when you are facing the toughest times in your life. There are those who try to make it about them and those who would never hint that they had anything but mundane going on in their life so you wouldn't have to worry about one more thing. The Li Fraumeni Syndrome conference was a great opportunity to reaffirm I am not alone. More than one person shared my sentiments. There are Givers and there are Takers. Both have had something valuable wrenched from them- yet the true character trait emerges in how they choose to act from there. You find those who never had support and never want anyone else to have to know that feeling and you have those who can't get past that they never had support. They stall in the crisis, unable to evolve.

We all have these moments every day. Some moments are bigger than others, but each one is the glue that holds our true character together. Whether the glue holds or not is up to our choices. We have choices every day. What to eat, what to wear, how to act. These choices affect what we look like, how we feel, who we relate to. When things don't pan out exactly as planned- how we react and how we react to others' reactions also tells a lot about us. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we make sacrifices. But mostly we make choices. Sacrifices and choices have gotten confused. I hear people talk a lot these days about all the sacrifices they make. The definition and use of the word sacrifice has been so watered down- it is so clear you no longer see the choice in it- but it is there. A sacrifice is

 4 dictionary results on

sac·ri·fice   /ˈsækrəˌfaɪs/

noun, verb, -ficed, -fic·ing.


1. the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.

2. the person, animal, or thing so offered.

3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

4. the thing so surrendered or devoted.

5. a loss incurred in selling something below its value.

6. Also called sacrifice bunt, sacrifice hit . Baseball . a bunt made when there are fewer than two players out, not resulting in a double play, that advances the base runner nearest home without an error being committed if there is an attempt to put the runner out, and that results in either the batter's being put out at first base, reaching first on an error made in the attempt for the put-out, or being safe because of an attempt to put out another runner.

Oh, I see why there is confusion- it ranges anyewhere from the offering of a life to the gods to a baseball play.  But my point is this, although all sacrifices are choices, all choices are not sacrifices. To make a choice that benefits you to the harm of someone else is not a sacrifice. It just means you are self centered. A person makes a sacrifice by working 3 jobs so that their children can have a decent education. They are sacrificing time with their children and at home for the betterment of their children's future. A sacrifice is not working 3 jobs so you can drive your kid to school in a mazerati. That is a choice.
When Phil made the transition to the Guard, we made a choice.  In that choice, time with our extended families was sacrificed to having him home more than he would be in the active duty world. It was the right choice for us, although I'm pretty sure my mom would disagree. I started the blog for her. I started because there weren't enough hours in the day to chat on the phone and she so desperately wanted to see all of our day to day trials and tribulations. Apparently that sh@! is entertaining from the grandparent perspective. I get that, especially getting to see family and friends going through the changes of having a new baby at home. It seems like that was forever ago.
When Lily went through treatment, the blog became a lifeline to our families and friends. I didn't have to make 50 calls, I just posted a quick update. When we were dealing with the effects of chemo and couldn't find the pull-ups that held the most- boxes of them showed up on our doorstep. When her hair began falling out, hats from as far as Iraq were delivered- specially embroidered with her name and Pooh Bear. A friend ran a book drive and a stack of books taller than Lily herself became a library of quiet entertainment for those icky days relegated to the couch. Neighbors helped shield the other kids from day to day craziness and long hospitalizations. We learned who our true friends were and became forever endebted.
There were friends who didn't get the memo and felt that day to day trivial "crises" were things I needed to know. And there were quite a few we never heard from at all. It is always better to hear- we are thinking of you than nothing at all. I would be lying if I didn't say how people acted during this time did not color how I react to them today. I am aware that my perceptions at the time were severely stressed, but also pretty close to dead on. When you are ultimately stressed the triaging of unnecessary occurs and that includes relationships. I realize that I am not innocent, that I have not been in contact with many of my good friends as often as I should be. But I also know that my true friends understand and either make the effort when they can or accept my effort when it is offered.
I have also learned that life is too short and too precious to harbor certain feelings. Oh if it were only easier said than done. So it is in these times that I choose to eliminate certain relationships from my day to day life- for they were really never part of it. There are growing pains involved but I do know that for every closed door there is always an opened window and that window may be on the side of the house with a delightful breeze. The true irony also lies in that as I stand here with a pair of scissors those whose ties were severed will never truly know because they cannot see past themselves to feel the tie that could have been.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)