Modus Operandi

I don’t ‘do’ idle chit-chat, anymore. I shiver when exchanging pleasantries. If you ask me a question or initiate small talk, be prepared for an unexpected answer. 

It’s not that I don’t have time. I have discovered that I have much more time than I ever thought I would have at my disposal. In fact, I have 24 hours. Everyday. 24 hours to use as I choose. It’s in my choosing that the content has shifted. Which includes small talk. I find myself wanting every last moment to have meaning. I want walk away from each encounter having exchanged something that leaves an impression. If that is not possible, if I don’t have the energy, I will keep my trap closed. Yes. This talkaholic has curbed her tongue. 

At the beginning of January, I went back to school. For now, I am doing damage control. I spent three quarters at one of our local community colleges, 23 years ago. I tanked it. I walked away with a GPA of 1.19. Yet, I was well on my way to obtaining my Mrs. degree. (That’s a story for another time.) Today, I am pursuing my BSN (Bachelor of Science & Nursing), which is a very competitive program. I am in the process of repeating everything I took 23 years ago. It’s been the perfect exercise in learning to be a student. It’s also been an invaluable lesson for my OffSpring. Go to college when you are ready. When you do go, get serious.

These first few classes are my first real foray into ‘society’ since Gregory’s diagnosis in February of 2009. I contribute to class discussions and answer questions. Yet, I keep to myself. When I do share something about why I am in class or what my goal is……. that’s when I start to feel a little weird. I haven’t discovered the least awkward way to offer the story that I have to tell. I’ve started to refer to it as ‘ripping off the band-aid’. I blurt out the highlights in a torrent of words: “InJuneof2009myyoungestwasdiagnosedwithcancer. Heisthreeandahalfyearspostbonemarrowtransplant. Heiscurrently7andahalfyearsold. Iwanttoworkwithfamilieslikeoursinahospitalsetting.” I watch for the response. I gauge where the conversation needs to go from there. 

No matter what I do or where I go, I feel different. Other. I feel like I see life through completely different lenses than anyone else. I’m not yet comfortable with this feeling. Life spins and whirls around me and a very large portion of it I don’t even give it a second thought. I could care less what clothes are in fashion. It does not matter to me what TV shows are hot. Talking about the weather is not going to change it. 

My family is surviving childhood cancer. We are trying to thrive. I am trying to live a life of conscious mindfulness. Every little thing that I do, has an effect on everything and everyone. Man, that’s too much pressure, sometimes. 

Today at the grocery store, the check-out clerk started in with the small talk. ‘How’s your day going today?’ As is my current modus operandi, I paused, looked him straight in the eye and told him how grateful I was to be grocery shopping. It set him back a moment. Yet, he took the moment and asked me: ‘Why?’ So I told him. My son is a childhood cancer survivor and I ‘get’ to enjoy grocery shopping. That’s when the conversation truly shifted and he had a chance to spread some of his burden. A year ago, his mom was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma. She lives on the other side of the state. So far she is surviving. He didn’t need to say the words, but this kid is scared for his mom. Just below the exterior of his still pimple-faced smile, he is scared. Our short interaction allowed a bit of that fear to escape. 

We all have stories that need to be heard. Vowing to be better about sharing my stories.

Tell me yours.

Always, with boundless love.




About Mindi Finch

Living with Magnificence. Kicking Childhood Cancer's Ass.
This entry was posted in Childhood Cancer. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Modus Operandi

  1. Sheri says:

    Yes, everyone has a story. I learned recently, how often people think that their story must trump everyone elses because they hurt so bad. I don’t believe that to be the way it needs to be. We all go through really painful and scary events – some that rip at the very fabric of who we are and even though we may never know how to integrate who we were before to who we are now, we are forever changed. Everyone is forever changed by these huge life events. It’s like waking up in another reality, with another set of eyes, and everyone around you is the same. They talk to the person you used to be, act like everything is the same as it always is. You look at them and at first you try to be what they need, but then it becomes too much work as you go through this huge event. I-am-different. I-can’t-be-her-anymore. She-died-with-them. This is the new reality. It’s not a bad thing. In fact it is a much more in-tune, much more sure, much more aware, me that looks you in the eye. Catapulted into another dimension. Another IS. “She” is still lurking but at a deeper level. She keeps an eye on things. She who was innocent and didn’t know about such things, personally. Walking around in the depths of the rabbit hole. One day your head pops up again – but everything looks different. When did that happen? How did that happen when I wasn’t looking? But now – now she stands in her truth. Even when other folks may not agree. She doesn’t waver. She just puts one foot in front of the other. You never know how many breaths you’ve contracted for…, just breathe.

  2. everyone does have a story – and im so glad to be part of yours.

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