Cathaleen Curtiss – » As I see it...

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Each Journey begins with just one step.

As many of you know, my life has been turned upside down. I have had to take a hard look at the principles I believe in and hold dear. I have needed to put things on hold and re-evaluate goals and plans. I have had to agree that not everything needs to be perfect all the time. It doesn’t even need to be close. There are days I am happy to just put my head down on my pillow and hope that the next day is a little bit better. I awake each morning with hope. I say all this and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me.

However, two people I care deeply about cannot say that and they have become my inspiration. They are meeting with challenges of their lifetime, as they work to find a path on an uncharted journey. Their faith, resolve, and love for life brings me hope.

Each journey begins with just one step.  As our lives intertwine, we learn so much about ourselves and each other. How we handle the bumps in the road play a large part in what path we choose to follow. How we react to someone else’s path can also play a big role in their journey. Grief, and pain; love and happiness; knowing and not knowing; hurt and forgiveness; anger and resentment; joy and hope; as well as faith and resolve all impact what direction we take and how we move forward.

A pleasant walk on a fall day to clear our heads.

In the last four months I have journeyed along this unforgiving road. We have met with great despair and on occasion bitter reality, however we have also witnessed kindness, love, and hope. I am reminded of a quote I once posted, the author is unknown. “Without hope the heart would break.”

Mickey waits with Ian and Nicole for another biopsy to begin.

Since that posting there have been many other cliches that I have found myself saying or that have been said me. I would like to list a few.

“Everything happens for a reason. – It will be OK. – It is always something. – I feel so bad for you. – Life just isn’t fair. – I won’t complain because compared to you my troubles are nothing. – It is all so overwhelming. – G-d only gives us what we can handle. – The not knowing is the hardest. – It can’t get any worse. – Bad things happen to good people. – This too will pass. – You have to have faith. – I am sorry this is happening to you. – If there is anything I can do…

I’d like to break these down just a bit with the inside my head voice and the outside my head voice. It will be up to you to figure out which is which. Mostly, I smile and say thank you.

“Life just isn’t fair.” Well, no sh-t! Thank you for this understatement! How do you want me to react to that? Throw in the towel and give up because life just isn’t fair, or fight harder to prove life is ok just different than we expected.

“Everything happens for a reason.” Really. But can you possibly explain what that reason is.

“It will be OK.” Or maybe it won’t! But this is what it is for now.

“It is always something.” It sure is, but trying to see the forest for the trees gets old after a bit. Can’t I just take a snow day?

“I feel so bad for you.” Please don’t feel bad for me, it makes me wonder if my life really does suck and I am just too thick to see it. Plus, I don’t have the energy left to take on feeling like I am making you feel bad.

“I won’t complain because compared to you my troubles are nothing.” We all have stuff. Just because I have rather incredible challenges to face doesn’t mean yours are any less.

“It is all so overwhelming.” Yes it is, it really is.

“G-d only gives us what we can handle.” I wonder. Could he possibly have the wrong address or maybe he has over estimated what I can handle.

“The not knowing is the hardest.”   I don’t know the knowing is pretty darn miserable too.

“It can’t get any worse.” WRONG it can always get worse. And usually just when we were getting hopeful.

“Bad things happen to good people.” Yep thank you. That makes me feel better. However, good things happen too. Sometimes the bad things turn out to be good things. I guess that goes back to “everything happens for a reason.”

“This too will pass.” Well, how profound. But honestly right now there are hours that turn in to days. And days that have now become months and being stuck between “knowing and not knowing” can seem almost unbearable.

“You have to have faith.” I know I am doing the best I can.

“I am sorry this is happening to you.” Well as weird as it may sound I would rather if be me than someone else.

“If there is anything I can do… “   Yes, there is; just smile. Try to find the joy in every little thing. Open the door for someone. Buy someone a cup of coffee. Say I love you often and find forgiveness. Tell someone thank you. Compliment their shoes or their hair. Do your best to be forgiving and kind. Just say something nice. In the end all we really have are each other and the will to be happy. Being angry or sad just takes so much energy.

Mickey on a conference call on his way home from Roswell.

Knowing that the sun rises and the sun sets and each day we have a chance to do something right, brings me hope. To my family, friends, and colleagues for all that you do and put up with, thank you. It is almost Thanksgiving and this is what I am thankful for.

For my Dad who is the most honest and fair person I know. He is kind and firm. He has worked hard his whole life and he laughs easily. He knows that he is loved and we know that he loves us. That is a blessing.

Visiting with my Dad at the short term physical rehab center.

For my daughters who are amazing women. They have not had picture perfect lives but they have successfully overcome most of their challenges. They are independent, freethinking, and opinionated (and that is not a bad thing) they are kind, intelligent, open to new people, and they know how to laugh, just like their Grampa. They bring a smile to my face every day.

Everyone looks over the photos that Mickey took of Hannah and Nestor’s graduation.

 For my partner, he came into my life when I least wanted or expected it. I am thankful for that every day. He has brought me so much happiness and laughter. His challenges are many right now, but his resolve and compassion is nothing short of inspirational. He continues to help others every day; on days when he is dealing with things that would make the strongest person give up. Days when most of us would just say, “I’m sorry I can’t help you,” he moves forward, one step at a time. He is helping folks who have no idea, where he is or what he is handling on his side of the phone while helping them with their crisis. It is simply mind boggling to witness his dedication, and tenacity. It is on occasion infuriating because those of us witnessing his journey first hand would prefer he concentrate on taking care of himself for a change. However; that is not who is. That is not the person I fell in love with. That is not the person who puts everyone else first. That is not the person who knows how to make me laugh just like my Dad.

Mickey exchanges texts with photographers in Ferguson, MO, on August 18, 2014 while we waits to go for a biopsy. The next day he went to Ferguson for a week.

I told some one last week; “I would rather be dealing with all this uncertainty and be happy; than have a charmed life and be miserable.” I appreciate holding hands and a good laugh or a corny joke. I appreciate chicken soup on our doorstep after a long day. I appreciate smiles and the small gifts of life. I appreciate understanding and hope. I appreciate our friends and family; old and new who have helped us smile. I look forward to many more years of laughter.

I hope we all have an opportunity to recognize our reasons to be thankful and not just on Thanksgiving. Thank you.

Making a selfie while enjoying our birthdays at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.