Music is the space between the notes…” ~ Claude Debussy
My mother and I were more than best friends forever (BFF’s), we were sister warriors in the battle against breast cancer. This journey began over sixteen years ago on October of 1997 after dad died. I was truly blessed because mom taught me the significance and grace of unconditionally loving another person, and she has always encouraged me and supported me in every aspect of my life. We stemmed the tides of loss, grief and pain throughout the whole process. We were each other’s caregivers.
“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ~ Paulo Coehlo
Dad introduced and taught me using valuable jazz lessons how to handle the rigors of the harsh realities of choosing to live a creative life. Initially, I was confused about what I wanted to be when I grew up. My father didn’t want me to go into music, dance, acting, blah, blah blah because he was angry at the way the “Arts” treated women. He thought it was safer to be a doctor. He would get angry and tell me that it was no place for a lady! In my father’s case I believed that he wanted to become a doctor. He was a man of intensity and commitment and I never really knew that he felt he was protecting me. Looking back I realized it was his way of preparing me to stand my ground and confront my ego, negative thoughts, fear, failure and the challenges that we all face by accepting that like change it is necessary for us to connect with our God given spiritual gifts. Leaning in and coming face to face with a challenge it signals that you have to awaken to those gifts using them to overcome it.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” ~ Paulo Coehlo
The possibility of living a creative life transformed me by using mindfulness improvisation! is when “Jazz” the Catalyst” has ability to interact in a manner specific to the intensity of the vibration frequency of “Cancer” connecst with the higher consciousness “mindfulness improv” that will enlighten, inspire, provide the energy that becomes the “substrate” that changes you. Listening is a portal giving you the ability to discern the egos “chatter of negativity from what resides in the heart of fear. It wasn’t an option in that moment. It was like breathing.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Fortunately I discovered I have to write because it gives me the sense of who I am. It was the response to the Call to the life that was given me. When I combine the blessing my father gave me “jazz” when he took me to rehearsals, festivals, recording sessions; and his introduction to the players like, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Count Basie, Igor Stravinsky, and Ralph J. Gleason and Charles Champlin of L.A. Times that individually and collectively inspired and nurtured me to devote myself to a creative life. I thought I was secretly writing in my journals — poetry and lyrical prose/essay that I created when dad was composing songs on the piano downstairs in 1963. I was surprised to found that he knew all about my writing secretly in my room when I found in the Gibson guitar case he gave me when I was 9. I opened it up and found all of my writing nestled between sheet music. It was my Aha! Moment when I realized what a blessing my father gave me of living wonderfully enchanted life of musical thinking where my words can separate sound from music. Writing was my Response to my life’s adversities like cancer, writer’s block
I am truly NOT a H.A.T.E.R.(Having Anger Toward Everyone Reaching Success) of Breast Cancer….
The minute the word cancer entered our house, everything changed. I felt desperate and frightened by the prospect of cancer and another death. But I refused to take this lying down. I dove directly into the cresting wave of the unknown and sprung into action—there were logistics to deal with and mom needed support. I moved back in with her after dad’s death and we struggled with missing dad, but also dealing with taxes and issues related to her therapy.
Chemotherapy is brutal. Radiation was something way beyond that.. The goal of these therapies is to kill everything in your body before it kills you. I wanted to take the burden off her. When dad had his massive stroke he was on a respirator and in a coma we asked my brother to make a tape of dad’s music to play continuously in his ears. After ten days, he was out of the coma and was breathing on his own. You can’t tell me that God didn’t have a role in that.
“‘My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,’ the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. ‘Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.‘” ~ Paolo Coehlo
Chemotherapy makes everyone suffer. Facing fear and suffering I decided to bring a tape of my father’s music into the chemo suite when she had chemo and radiation therapy and it majestically made the most terrifying moments evaporate from both of us. It not only served as a connection between the two of us, it was a connection for the other patients and the hospital staff as well. We laughed and interacted with one patient in particular, Pat. Pat had colon cancer. It had metastasized and spread to her bone. I met her when I had my mastectomy and she lay in the bed next to me after surgery. Mom came in and waited for me to come around. I opened my eyes and there they were. What a beautiful sight. Apparently mom and Pat formed a bond. When mom had the pick put in, Pat hovered over me like a lioness guarding her cubs. After the pick was in mom, she developed a serious infection they could not control. After a week, mom was moved to a nursing home in Paramus New Jersey for 90 days. I couldn’t drive so Pat would come and sit on my bed holding the phone while we talked to mom and talked until the nurse came in and told us she would have the phone removed. Mom had two daughters now. That spring all we did was laugh and act silly….More to come… See you between the words…, Peace and Love Out! JBC -8) & <3.
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