Better Without You

What if the first song David and I danced to was “So High” by John Legend instead of “Forever” by Ben Harper? What if my mother had never died? What if my dad had never died? What if I hadn’t moved to New York City? The number of what-ifs I could ask myself and whoever would be so kind as to listen are endless but that was the thought that entered my mind this evening as “So High” began playing on my Pandora. Probably because that was the song I always foresaw myself getting married to should that day ever present itself. The eerie what-if entered my mind as a sort of superstition as if something as simple as the song we first danced to as an official married couple that hot, July afternoon could have anything to do with the outcome of our marriage; The dozens of pictures of us in each other’s arms, slow dancing in sweet reverie to Ben Harper begging, “Give me your forever…”

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It probably has absolutely nothing to do with the outcome but one can ponder, especially when one is out of divorce limbo and in the finality of grieving a great loss. Though, I’ve reached the point where I can confidently proclaim that the immense loss isn’t so much mine as it is his. Sadly, I’m not sure that is an accurate depiction of David’s feelings but what he feels is simply irrelevant to me now and not because I wanted that to be the case but because after all this time, it had to be.

There was a time when I truly believed we’d conquer all odds, overcome any trials and tribulations that stood in our course, for better or for worse as we vowed – we were better together as we reiterated countless times over the phone across great distances, echoing Jack Johnson’s aptly named tune, and whispered in the middle of the darkest part of the nights to each other as we fell asleep, hand in hand. The present reality is that I’m better without him though better having once loved him. I’m surprisingly reaching a conclusion that finds me feeling deep gratitude for that tumultuous three plus years of my life. Whether I have been making progress toward this point the entire two years and ten months since we decided to part ways or I simply didn’t realize I was already in the midst of this gratitude until I held the finalized divorce papers in my hand this past Saturday will remain a mystery.

A Champagne Toast

I had it in my whimsical mind that beautiful, spring morning in New York City that one should dress up for such occasions. I wore this midi length, violet hued short sleeve dress with a high-waist belt and, of course, heels. David was equally as put together as we jauntily waltzed into 141 Worth Street in lower Manhattan to obtain our marriage license. And that night, after work, we excitedly made our way to 230 5th – the rooftop bar where we’d claimed to have fallen in love almost two years prior – in our fancier than usual attire to celebrate this momentous day. With champagne in hand, my husband to be and I toasted to us, to the life we were already creating together against a stunning backdrop of fake palm trees and the Manhattan skyline, the mesmerizing sunset easily stealing the show with the iconic Empire State Building coming in at a close second.

It was there, on that very rooftop, two years prior that I had asked this person before me, “Where did you come from?” as if he was some never before seen or experienced alien life form from Mars and by the entanglement of butterflies in my stomach and the way I kept losing my breath every time our eyes met, I might have actually speculated such. The truth, however, was that I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for someone as quickly as I did and my verbalized question was more of a million thoughts – “How did this happen? Why is this happening? Oh my God – No and Yes” – all in those five little words. My question was a simpler way of interrogating the Universe’s plan and the soundness of my own decisions in a city that wasn’t even my home yet, in a city that had inexplicably claimed my beating heart for so many years. When David responded, “The same place as you,” all of those questions, speculations, concerns and trepidations flew off the side of that skyscraper, on to the trash-lined sidewalk of Fifth Avenue. My only available transportation left was a leap of faith.

Our official meeting in July of 2010 was a serendipitous account of unrelated, idealistic circumstances that by even the most starry-eyed, hopeless romantic’s standards would be deemed a fictional story. It was so uncanny that our friends and family members would ask to hear a retelling of the account, intently listening to each of our perspectives with such palpable attention, it had the ability to recreate those butterflies in my stomach. Even I had vowed one day to write the story as if it were a young adult novel with fictitious characters based heavily upon what David and I were toasting atop that rooftop in early June of 2012, just a month shy of our wedding date.

I certainly didn’t anticipate this fairy tale’s ending to be anything less than a happily ever after with potential room for a sequel. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and while that fairy tale ended quite some time ago, its official and legal ending arrived today in the form of a large manila envelope addressed to Lindsay Taylor (insert my married surname), which is no longer my surname as of May 18th, 2016. After a tumultuous, seemingly unending, almost three-year process, that marriage license, that David and I were celebrating when he snapped my picture in my violet dress in the evening’s glow of the setting sun, is no longer valid.

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After all of the countless Mondays through Saturdays that I’ve patiently walked to my mailbox, anticipating that very envelope I found there today, one would expect me to be relieved, overjoyed, even jumping with sheer delight! And while relief is certainly profoundly present and I was clearly excited, shaking with overdue expectation as I ripped open the envelope – sadness is also a glaringly prominent emotion. So is a sense of failure. I suppose in layman’s terms, one could deem the surreal and somewhat shocking day as bittersweet. It tastes like dark chocolate mixed with fresh blood, the kind of blood from all the metaphorical punches thrown, the figurative scratch and bite marks that we leave upon another’s life that can act as an open wound at any given moment. Today, my wounds were gouged wide open as the date May 18, 2016 was repeatedly stamped all over the paperwork in front of me and the stupid legal description, “dissolution of marriage,” in its stupid serif font recurred along every other line. Today, I was reminded of all of the reasons why I married this person who had come from the same place I had and all of the reasons why I no longer am.

Mother’s Day 2016

I just wanted to let you all know I sincerely tried – I tried to write something, anything that might suffice for today is Mother’s Day.  I’ve got nothing – not today.  And not nothing in the sense of there is nothing of significance in my heart or on my mind but nothing that could possibly do my beautiful mother’s legacy justice.

My intentions with this blog, from the very beginning, have been to keep my mother alive through my words, stories, anecdotes and memories and I intend to continue doing so.  As of late, I have noticed a depletion of my energy and finding the appropriate words to share with you right now will completely wipe me out whilst doing no one any good.  Again, it is not for lack of trying and I know my mother would understand this as I recall watching her determinedly operate on fumes quite a few times.

So, with that being said, and not in any particular order, I wish all of the mothers, the mothers to be, the mothers lost, the single fathers and the mothers of furbabies a happy and wonderful Mother’s Day.

From my heart to all of yours,

Linds.

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Mama & I, 2003

A Failed System

You have mono,” the doctor at the walk-in clinic told my mother in the fall of 2010. She was then bed-ridden for over a month, lost her appetite, was constantly dizzy and nauseous until one very late night, she collapsed on her living room floor, somehow managing to call her sister who then dialed 9-1-1. My mother unknowingly had walked out of that clinic with multiple brain tumors that were aggressively pressing against her skull, stage four cancer in her lungs and a prognosis of less than a year.

It’s just an ovarian cyst,” the doctors assured my twenty-something friend during a pelvic exam. A month later, that cyst had grown into a tumor the size of a grapefruit; she endured countless chemotherapy treatments, a full hysterectomy and multiple doctor visits and hospital stays. Three years after that tumor was deemed “just a cyst,” she unfortunately passed away.

These are just two exemplary stories, two avoidable and disastrous histories that hit close to home, that perfectly demonstrate why I do not trust or rely on our healthcare providers or the healthcare system as a whole. This is not a bashing of every doctor, clinic or hospital out there, but I’m simply stating that our healthcare system is no better than our government or our justice system. It’s an industry designed around crooked politics and dirty money.

I highly doubt the clinic that misdiagnosed my fifty-five year old mother with mononucleosis, a virus that primarily affects adolescents, is out of business or that it’s being held responsible for such an atrocity. The insurance companies certainly don’t give a shit about our personal reasons for desiring to acquire a tubal ligation. And I wonder just how many women out there walking around with ovarian cysts are actually walking around with fast growing, malignant tumors? I wonder if I might be one of them.

I recently had a pelvic and trans-vaginal ultrasound due to irregular bleeding. The report came back revealing a complex, septated ovarian cystic mass and moderate free fluid in my pelvic area. My doctor then called for a cancer antigen 125, also known as CA 125, blood test. This test is predominantly used on patients who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are being treated. The test basically tells them if the tumors are responding to the treatment. My blood test came back in the normal range.

I cannot seem to get my primary care doctor or my gynecologist on the fucking phone for two minutes to ask the necessary questions so I have conducted my own research and I am not content with a simple blood test. I have a history of ovarian cancer in my family and did you know that with each passing generation, one’s chances of getting the disease increase? My great-grandmother on my grandfather’s side died of it. Breast cancer also increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer – my maternal grandmother has fought and beat it twice. Did you also know that not having had children increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer but that tubal ligation has been known to prevent such odds? Yeah, well, the insurance company has yet to authorize my tubal ligation as they “need more information” from my provider as to why I need this surgery. So, when the old, white men on Capitol Hill aren’t dictating what I can and cannot do with my body, the stuffed shirts of corporate America are.

I want a biopsy. I want to be monitored. I want to have monthly pelvic ultrasounds. Are the cysts growing? Are they changing at all? A biopsy is the only true, surefire method of determining the content of these so-called cysts. Unfortunately, getting the opportunity to speak to a so-called professional about all of these concerns is half the battle. Getting the insurance company to authorize a biopsy and routine ultrasounds is an entire other battle and one that is completely out of my control. But I’m gonna fight like hell to make it happen because I refuse to be a misdiagnosed patient brushed to the wayside, a manila folder lost amidst the many flaws of a failed system.