Staying Vertical and Stealing Home

Yesterday was a day of calls and texts and knocks on my door that brought many emotions.

The first was a phone call about an accident. People I love were witness to it and heartbroken, in shock, and disbelief. I carried them in my heart all day.

Then the UPS man knocked on my door and left a large box full of crayons and glue sticks for my classroom. The kindness of others knows no bounds.

Then my phone rang, and it was the Mederi Center. Erin told me that after the director interviewed everyone… I’ve been the one chosen as the main story to film. There will be one other woman, but they felt my story would be the main one. The film crew will fly here in either September or October. They know I refuse to take off any days from school other than for hospital visits, and even those days I only take an hour or two, so they plan on filming during a weekend. They will take one whole day to set up and film and interview me in my house, then the next day they will follow me around on a typical day. I hope they can keep up.

They want to film me teaching, as they are all amazed I’m still going strong, so now I have to see if I can even use the classroom on a Sunday, see if I can have students come and be filmed hearing a story or something, and pray that apple and pumpkin traffic isn’t too bad. “Meet Keri, a local who is sitting in an hour of traffic to get to her school which is five minutes away on a good day.” I’m anxious, nervous, and hopeful that by sharing my story, others will see that almost three years after being told I could only have weeks, months, maybe a year or two…

I am still here.

Then I went to Madison’s talent show. I am always shocked to hear her stories and her loving her job because she always said she hated kids but man….she lights up when talking about her job as a counselor. She actually is in charge of former students of mine. She loves kids now, and even dances. As I watched the show, I got a text that took my breath away.

My friend Candy texted me that our friend Lisa died. I went to SUNY Cortland and lived on the second floor of Shea. Candy, Lisa, Laura, Jen, Cashia, Tiffny, Paige, Alison, Caroline…we were a crew. Lisa was funny and loving, and made me laugh. We would watch “Stealing Home” with Jodi foster and mark harmon on rainy days over and over. She once wrote a poem, “Ode to an Asshole” about a boy and hung it up on her dorm door for all to see. She was fierce, funny and loving. We stayed connected and when I was diagnosed she was one of the first people who reached out. She explained everything to me, as she had been through her own bout of stage three breast cancer. Candy also was one of the first people I saw the night I was told I had cancer and told me to take pictures and document every single day, because it will all become a blur.

So all of this posting and blogging?

Thank Candy.

Last summer when I was told there may be a chance I was oligometastatic and would start IV chemo the very next day, lisa was there for me every moment. We spent over an hour that night with her helping me breathe and her giving me every single trick. “Eat like you are about to go downtown to Woody’s. Soak that shit up.”

“Everyone else will be sleeping. Not you. Drink water the whole time like it’s your job and pee that shit out.”

“Get frozen peas and blueberries and put them in ziploc bags and then over your hands with socks. You’ll look like an ass, but you’ll save your hands and feet.”

“You can do this “.

Rob knows what she meant to me, as when I first went last summer for my very first IV chemo, I had just run to target to get socks,

Ziploc bags, a cooler, popsicles. We were at the deli getting my very first turkey sandwich in over a year, I was crying and barely breathing, rob knew that lisa kept sending me messages, telling me to get some sucking candy for when they first pushed the medicine, and I had to run across the street to my school to get hard candy from the my main office. My principals and secretaries were all there and we all hugged and cried and took a selfie like candy said and they gave me a crapload of sucking candy.

Lisa got me through last summer.

We are all still in shock. All of my dorm friends are a little bit lost today.

The world is a little bit less bright.

It was a day.

I also kept checking on my friend from the morning. She is in shock too.

This is where we do the work.

Our lives are like a long horizontal line. There’s the saying of the “dash”. On your gravestone they have the date you were born and the date you die. But the dash in the middle of the two dates is where all the stories of the good stuff is.

I’ve been telling people that we are time travelers. Our mind has the magic.

We can travel back in time to our past memories and feel anxious or regret.

We can flash forward to what we think might happen before it does, and feel worry.

We flow back and forth along this horizontal line all the time.

The trick is to stay vertical.

Be where you are, who you are with, at that moment.

Be still.

I got the text about Lisa at the moment Madison was about to do her dance. I made myself be still and stay mentally there, taking video of Maddie while she did her dance. I was able to stay as present as I could until rob came home.

Then I went on the back deck with him and got my cry out.

Alycia, Leila, Lisa.

I’m so tired of all of my friends dying.

Is this what people in old age homes deal with? Because man…I feel empathy with the ninety year old people. Watching friends die all around you knowing your time could be soon as well.

Stage four needs more.

This is why I agreed to be filmed this fall for this movie. This isn’t easy, sharing my life and treatment and emotions. It’s raw and hurts and makes you vulnerable. People can be loving and send love, and others leave and hurt you to the core.

But it also makes you brave, and knowing you can help at least one person… like Lisa helped me, and it makes it bearable. Just last night robs cousin’s wife was sending me her chemo plan and on the same day my friend Lisa died…

I gave a family member the same tips I was given one year ago.

Today I’m headed into NYC to see “Dear Evan Hanson” with Morgan’s Girl Scout troop. It’s going to be a long day of train rides, walking, watching the show, and dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. But I’ll be surrounded by other moms, watching our girls who have grown up together make a memory day.

The type of day that the time traveling mind can go back to when hard days come.

I’ll put extra cream under my socks, drink water, and pack my chemo and herbs and pills and water.

Life is for living.

Stay vertical today, friends.

And may Alycia and Leila meet Lisa, and the three of them be near all who love and miss them.

In Jesus’s name, amen.

Xoxo

Keri

I love you, Lisa Sheridan Crane.

Always and always.

See that’s all I want to do Billy-Boy. I want to leap of this pier and fly high in the air with hang with the wind and drift through the clouds, and at night, with the Moon full and the sea wild, I meet my lover high on a cliff and we’d swoop down into the ocean and swim all the way touch the bottom up through the darkwater and break the surface. Then we’d fly to Jamaica for Piña Coladas… God, I wish I could do that.”~Stealing home

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