We encourage you to find more of Teisha’s writing at the blog http://betterthansleepingalone.typepad.com/my_weblog/Comment
After a long ride through the construction filled streets riding comfortably on the backs of the family dogs they reached the warm underbelly of a swath of trees littered with statues of animals leading the way to the real animal haven. This warm and very gentle creature stood to the right of the trail with a man who might first be mistaken as a grandfather or parent. Her hair, long and red and grey and black hung around her face, neck and chest. She made polite conversation in the most agreeable confident way. On her nose a natural triangle formed from tanner skin sprinkled with very light brown freckles. And when they turned around, dogs back from a romp around the grounds, they realized she was not as she appeared. Not a girl at all. But an evolved being, an as old as a scribe, invoking that role in order to remain a learner; “very nice to meet you” she said. It came across with a perfect pitch of sincerity and immediately, deeply appreciated. As if a degree had been earned. An answer to meet the question; “am I doing alright.” “Yes” it whispered behind the words, “heavens yes.”Comment
It is a sort of stillness and drudgery, diming the light- including the sun- and leaving life to lie in a heap, unharnessed and lame. A flock that has been wounded almost drops down in its knees. There is physical pain, behind the eyes. The skin a creeping, stinging tangle of nerve endings creating and giving up on itself making things seem as if they are sick to the stomach. Fatigue is unforgiving. It takes. Swallowing whole weeks at a time, churning in and over itself like a captured eel. Inky and unjointed, flowery with pain. It rides into the sunset on an unwitting set of wings. Fatigue is like a slow fuck without the come. Just slow, attentive monotony making ill-fitting promises and writing bad checks; cashing in on the whimsical friends and although it may seem personal, it dare not. nothing personal about it, just that it exists and in this moment, in this room we find it feigning a sort of relief.Comment
I am now in the seventh year after the day I was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Looking back over these years, which have included many rather severe physical experiences and a successful treatment (with a long list of potential and actual side effects), the days just after hearing the diagnosis were the hardest. Harder than treatment. Harder than side effects. Why? Because on the day of diagnosis I had not believed I would ever get cancer. Because I did not know what would come with time.
The impact of hearing your diagnosis is not the same for everyone but this is how it was for me. My thoughts of what to expect were physically dire. The recognition of the fact that I was going to die came crashing in on me so severely that in a way I felt more alive then I had before. Life became a state of being that I existed in, for now. Wondering about the actual details of the end of my life used to sit quiet and low on my list of things to think about (because the time for that would come later).
The first time I heard that there were other people who revered their days of the initial diagnosis as the most trying came during a “young cancer survivor” support group meeting. I remember thinking what a relief it would be to have the worst days past me. This was the beginning of a measure of hope coming from the belly during a true sort of hell. The feeling of relief during the moments of swollen glands and flagging grief was an honest blessing. A deep breath under the holding on for dear life. While it did not seem that I had yet survived my cancer experience it was self evident that I endured what I could.
I’m the messenger. The song is the message and I’m the messenger.
My earliest memories of singing are in the car in my mom’s car. My mom and I used to drive around a lot in her car. It was a yellow Karmen Ghia and it was the only car we had from the time I was born until I was 18 so I kind of grew up in the same seat of this car.. It had the best radio. No static and always in range. We would drive around and listen to the radio and I think from a really young age I just loved to sing songs
just any song, every song actually,
I wanted to sing every song
I didn’t like it if I didn’t know the song
and every jingle commercial jingle and every tune I wanted to be able to sing every tune
I could actually, in high school, for awhile, I could almost sing every song I’d hear
I’d have a contest with my friend and we’d each push a radio staion alternatively
the other person picked the station on the radio and you had to sing whatever was on there and you’d go until
somebody didn’t know the song
I’m still learning this with guitar but
I think the first thing is you have to know
you have to really know your songs, your material
and then, you have to stop knowing them sort of
you have to know where you know the lyrics so well that then you just aren’t thinking about knowing anymore
you’re not thinking about the melody, you’re just trying to sing it like…
from the time you first learn a song until about (I don’t know) the 25th time.
Until I really know it well, there’s a wonderful space where it’s really new
you know, it’s like, it’s new but it’s getting more familiar and you’re discovering it and you want to hear it over and over
and you’re just really into it and then, then you cross over a line where it becomes that much more familiar
so when you sing, I think, you try to remember how it was somewhere in that pocket where it was still new but you knew the song
and you try to you know, sing it every time like it’s precious like you..I don’t know..it’s very emotional.
For me it’s very emotional.
Not in a sad way but in a meaningful way
I feel like when I’m singing I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing
it’s really comforting to be doing what you feel like you were meant to do
it’s a safe and wonderful feeling.
Where do all the quilloquialisms come from? Like, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” “This too shall pass.”
I’ve made up one of my own. It goes…”just because the doctors say you have Leukemia doesn’t mean you won’t have an electrical fire in your bedroom so heads up!” You like it? Maybe it’ll catch on and become the next piece of urban wisdom. Maybe not. Or maybe this one will last…”After you call 911, but as you’re fleeing the burning building, grab some shoes or at least a hat because when you are cold and weeping and your house is burning the last thing you want is to have to talk to the nicely shaven fireman with hair that looks like you started the fire by shoving your pointer finger into the light socket.” See, I can make up these little expressions now because I’ve been “touched.”
I like…”never loose your sense of humor.” To which I might add…”however…the sense of humor you’ll have while living at the The Residents Inn for two months with a tank of exotic fish, two cats, a poodle and your steadfast roommate (who happens to have the greatest insurance policy of all time) is a kind of sinister humor unlike any you’ve known – and should be tempered when talking to normal folks many of whom will know from the cackle in your voice and the rolling of your eyes to the back of your head that you are perhaps on the brink of, shall we say, “not playing with a full deck.”
So just a quick recap for those of you just joining us…
1. I still have a touch of Leukemia (that sounds so much better than C-A-N-C-E-R)
2. I was home when an electrical fire started in my bedroom at my friend Shelly’s house where I live.
3. My sense of humor, charred and sickly though it be, lives on.
So back to the lemonade mentioned in the opening sentence…
Valentines Day 2013 and maybe it was just a coincidence but it gave me such a wonderful feeling that I accept it as something more special than coincidence.
I went to the office to pick up my mail and there was the envelope with our Helgerson Team return address at the top and “A Special Gift for You” message written in red ink in the lower left hand corner. It had been returned because someone once near and dear to us had moved on.
I opened it knowing that it was one of our calendars from a year ago. The calendar photo was of the three of us in our black and white mix-and-match outfits and Teisha in the middle and I puzzled for a minute because the picture was from so long ago. Inside a handwritten note “cheers” and signed by Teisha in her fine-tipped purple sharpy. It came back to me on this day and was the very best valentine card.
Postmarked January 2010.