After Chip was diagnosed, people kept telling me I was “made for this.” Chip told me I was made for this. I even adopted this phrase and started telling people I was made for this.
Well, after Chip’s prognosis, I started to think, what the fuck? I was MADE for this?? I had a starring role in a really, really bad Lifetime movie. I was made to have a three year old son, to be within weeks of my due date and for my husband to be diagnosed with terminal Stage IV cancer? I kindly began to take offense to this.
I mentioned this to my friend, Ginny Johnson, one night, and her take on it was that it meant I was made for Chip. That I was the perfect spouse for him. Hmmmm…I still needed to chew on that one.
Anybody who knows me very well knows I do tend to sweat the small things. If Joe drops a banana slice on the kitchen floor, I am immediately on my hands and knees with a wet paper towel cleaning it up. If something gets thrown into the dryer with a stain on it causing it to set, well, I can truly lose it. If a bag of chips is opened from the wrong end, I can’t eat them. If a pillow is out of place on the couch or the throw blanket is on the floor, I can’t go to bed at night until everything is back in its proper place. It’s a problem but to quote the great Ke$ha, “We R who we R.”
On the flipside, I can handle, and I mean REALLY handle, the big things. I am cool as a cucumber at my what is supposed to be a stressful job. I can schedule for the Senator with my eyes closed. Joe can tumble out of the back of the car and crack his head open on the corner of a concrete curb, and I never break a sweat. Our connection through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia en route from Bamako, Mali to Arusha,Tanzania can suddenly turn into an unexpected overnight stay, and I embrace the adventure.
So, when Chip was diagnosed with cancer, I pulled up my big girl panties, channeled my inner Steel Magnolia and decided to make the best of it. What other choice did I really have? As one cancer victim wrote to us, “I can’t always control my circumstances, but I can control the way I experience these circumstances.” Wow. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
People keep telling me how strong I am, and I do appreciate the compliment, but I am just being the person my parents taught me to be. I also think my Southern roots are coming into play. I may not have learned to pump gas until Jenny Hassell taught me how my freshman year at Ole Miss, but Joe Boyd sure taught me how to change a flat tire and check my oil. I can barely choke down a beer, but I sure can take a single malt or bourbon down neat. I may not know how to cook it, but I’ve got a really good shot and could probably bag one and bring it home if I needed to.
So, I guess everyone was right. I WAS made for this, because cancer, you sumbitch, you have messed with the wrong Steel Magnolia. Game on.