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Monday, December 22, 2008

Not Normal

I stood on my feet for almost three hours today.

I had a table selling Tupperware at the Horev Hanukah Fair.

Had I been "normal," I would have stood the entire time. But my back hurt. So I sat down.

It might not have been so great for business, but a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

Still, mostly I stood.

I pretended to be normal, like all the other vendors.

I smiled all the time, and displayed my wares to anyone who stopped long enough to look and listen.

I chatted with friends, and caught up with acquaintances.

I greeted several children who were/are my swimming students.

I gently asked the many curious children with their cotton candy and their sufganiot (jelly donuts) to "please be carefull" not to touch things with their sticky fingers.

The atmosphere are the fair was really nice. I met up with lots of friends.

The guy at the table next to me was very friendly, and had a great smile. He looked so familiar, but I did not recognize his name. I discovered that he is the brother of a friend of mine. No wonder he looked so familiar.... they have the same smile!

When the fair finally over, I packed up my things....slowly....

Somehow, I always seem to be slower at packing up than everyone else.

My friend's brother offered his assistance. There was nothing he could do to help me pack, but I jumped at the opportunity to recruit his help in bringing my things back to my car.

While he was waiting for me to finish packing my last bits, I joked about how slow I am.

"I have a good excuse," I blurted, without thinking.... "chemotherapy."

Blank stare.

"Why?" He blurts back, not thinking any more than I did.


"Because I have cancer."

Even as we were having this surrealistic conversation, I wondered why I did it. Why spoil the illusion that everything is normal?

Working these fairs is fun, but it is hard work, even when you are normal.

I am not normal.

At the end of the day, I was REALLY tired, and more than a little proud that I had managed to pull it off.

I guess I wanted the recognition.

I wanted someone to say, "Wow, I never would have guessed!"

I wanted someone to know that it was hard for me, and I did it anyway.

I am glad I did it.

I had fun.

I felt.... almost.... normal.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean here. It is hard to pretend to be like a "normal" person when what defines you (in your own eyes) isn't like everyone else. I find myself sometimes also telling strangers (today, for example, the dental hygienist) about being an NF survivor. In fact, it feels like I am pretending when I don't tell someone about it. It is hard to contain such a huge thing. It's normal for you to have blurted it out after a day like that, shock value and all. Living with cancer is in every aspect of your life. You aren't crazy to need that recognition after a day of trying to be 'normal'. Having said that, I say a big kol hakavod for sticking it out as you did! Now I hope you can rest a bit from all that. :-)


Baila said...

I once told a complete stranger on the NYC subway that I was headed uptown to my radiation appointment. Just blurted it out. I think I wanted someone to know that while I looked normal on that train, I was SUFFERING. The guy was appropriately sympathatic, just what I needed for that pity-me moment. But I still stood the whole way.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand you and applaud you for standing 3 hours and acting normal (which I'm sure was a big struggle). Your post got me thinking about how important it is to judge others favorably since we often have no idea what is going on in each person's personal life. Many people suffer inside with all their pain and troubles, while they put on a happy facade. But if we really knew what others were dealing with, I think we'd live in a much kinder and sympathetic world.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Sarah & Baila -- you got it. it's a strange phenomena -- telling people who really have no need to know. We ALL do it. (this topic came up in my last support group and we ALL had stories to share...)

Anon -- that is one thing I have learned from this whole experience; we never know what is really going on with another person.