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:~: Thursday, April 12, 2007 :~:

Finding The Balance

Three years ago, my mother was diagnoised with an aggressive, terminal case
of cancer. They gave us only months with her, even said she'd be gone by
Christmas. Turns out, the doctors were wrong. She did have cancer, only not
the deadly one they'd diagnoised. She had breast cancer, and one of the
more treatable strains.

We didn't know this for six long weeks, though. Instead, we lived with the
knowledge we were going to lose her. And soon. It was a huge eye opener,
and made me reevaluate what was important in my life. Up until then, my family
(and by that I mean my mother/father/grandmother/siblings and nieces and nephews)
took a back seat to my writing. I missed countless family dinners, potlucks,
picnics--or what not, simply because I needed to get those pages in. The writing
always came first. I was under the mistaken assumption that my family would always
be there, patiently waiting for the moment when I had time for them.

And then suddenly, out of the blue--that time was limited. Four months,
that's all the time I had left with her.

And suddenly I regretted every single one of those dinners I had missed,
the movie nights I'd brushed off, every hour spent writing when I could
have been building memories with my mother.

I got a second chance. We took her over to the Seattle Cancer Care
Alliance and during a thirty minute consulation our world swung on it's axis
again. She didn't have the rare, aggressive cancer we'd been told. She had a
treatable form of breast cancer. Not only would she celebrate this Christmas
with us--but she'd be with us for many more.


But it wasn't something I was willing to take on faith.

I rearranged my priorites that day. I put my family first. My writing second.
I don't miss dinners anymore, or movie nights, or spur of the moment get-togethers.
My writing can wait. But a human life is much more fragile. fleeting--there
beside you one moment and then gone the next. There is only one gaurantee
when it comes to our families--they won't be around forever.

That isn't to say the writing goes unwritten. There is time for both. I just
needed to find a balance. The words still get written, I just don't give up
family time to get them down on paper. Instead, I give up less important time --like
television time.

Ten years from now, when I look back-- I don't want to regret the sacrifices
I made to feed my need to write. I don't want to regret the hours spent silent
and dreaming infront of my computer screen.

Instead, I want to cherish the memories I've built.
And the books I've written.


Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Nice post, T, and very, very true. During what I term my "obsessive" writing period, I put the writing before lots of stuff -- I escaped from an unpleasant reality by sinking myself into the writing. It wasn't healthy in a lot of ways, and I'm much, much better at finding the balance now.

Thanks for sharing. And I'm so glad your mom's original diagnosis was incorrect.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I imagine this is something we all need to find out for ourselves and in our own time.

I'm not married, with no kids--so I can't imagine how much harder the balancing is when you do have an immediate family.

Back when I was a child, maybe seven or eight--my best friend's mother was a painter. I still remember how sad my friend always was, she spent the majority of the time over at my house, with my mom and dad. Her mother was always locked up painting, never spending anytime with her children or husband.

And then suddenly the family moved away. Years later, talking with my mother--I found out that the mother had eventually completely walked out on her husband and children. She was offered a highly desireable student position at an academy of art in Europe. She walked out on her family to take it. The husband moved the family back to his home town so his mother could help raise the kids.

I've always wondered if this woman regretted the choices she made... what she threw away in the pursuit of her craft.


9:29 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I'd wonder the same thing, Theresa. You only have them for a short time and it goes so quickly. I'm learning more and more not to wish away my time with them, the way I hear so many parents do unthinkingly.

And as much as I love the writing, if it came down to the kids or the writing, having to give one up . . . there'd be no contest. The kids win every time.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Edie said...

Theresa, I empathize with you. What a deep subject. I've done the same thing, although mostly my husband was the one who suffered. Now I make time for him on weekends.

1:44 PM  

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