Sometimes we can’t understand why things happen in our lives. Why does all the shit happen at once? Like the lyrics in that Kelly Clarkson song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I sometime wonder if I should now be strong enough to bench press a car.
In early June, I made a visit to the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center. I have a brain tumor that is supposed to be the best kind to be diagnosed with, should there really exist such a mythical creature (if you haven’t followed that story for the past few years, you’ll have to catch up on the details later). I’ve been all over the world trying to find answers and treatments, but that day was the day I gave up fighting, accepted my fate, and decided to live the rest of my days doing the things I had been putting off until that elusive day called Tomorrow. It’s the day I decided to live.
Doctor (brilliant, but with crappy bedside manner): “Ms. Lane, no doctor in their right mind would try and remove this thing. This type of brain tumor has no known treatment besides surgery and studies have shown it’s a female hormone receptor. When the body produces estrogen, it makes the tumor grow. This is what I suggest to help you live longer: No more children…”
Me: Not having any more.
Doctor: Early menopause. Are you going through early menopause? Having hot flashes?
Me: I live in Louisiana. I wouldn’t be able to tell if I had a real hot flash because it’s like living on Tatooine.
Doctor: What about hormones? Birth control?
Doctor: And stress. This is something big, you need to reduce all the stressors in your life if you want to live.
Me: I’m going through a divorce, I work in the 2nd most stressful job in the Universe according to Forbes Magazine, and I have the best kind of brain tumor anyone could have. Please, tell me, how do you suggest I reduce stress?
Doctor: Find a new job. Do the things that make you happy. That’s the only treatment I can offer you at this time. Surgical removal is the only other option and for you, it is too much of a risk. Not right now.
I sat there stunned. I had prepared myself mentally for brain surgery. This was the last place I had left to find answers and someone to fix me. I could feel my face getting red and the tears pooling in my eyes.
Doctor: You didn’t need to travel all the way from Louisiana for me to tell you this. I’m sorry, there isn’t anything we can do for you here.
As he walked out, I gathered my purse and just left, blindly walking down the hallway trying to find the exit to the waiting room. My eyes were full of tears about to flow so I stepped into the nearby restroom to grab tissue before walking out into the public area. I didn’t sob. I held it in, but the first of the tears fell down my cheeks anyway. I kept thinking to myself “I shouldn’t have come. I shouldn’t be here.”
I walked out the hallway with my head held proudly, big fat tears beginning to roll down my face and I looked around at all the older people in wheelchairs, or with someone there to hold their hand and I said to myself “Self, don’t you do it. Don’t you let them see you cry. They don’t need tears today. They have it much worse than you.”
Instead of taking the elevator, I walked downstairs like a queen still holding my shoulders back and my head high, but I could feel the sobs beginning to make their way from deep inside my lungs. I quickened my pace and ducked into the next restroom, into a stall, and let the tears flow freely. And I knew I needed to sit down but was still grossed out by a public bathroom, so took the time to line the seat with toilet paper before allowing myself the luxury of sitting to cry.
Once I had composed myself, I put on my big sunglasses as if I were an old Hollywood celebrity and began the walk back to my hotel. I had finished the sad cry and during the walk I could feel the anger and the determination begin to seep through my soul. Yes, a few tears still fell and one really good looking jogger passed by and he looked at me and made a motion with his hands to smile (which I did).
It wasn’t so bad, this visit to Cleveland. At least now I wasn’t in Limbo, not knowing where I should go, what I should do with my life. I had the answers I had been seeking. I had made a pact with God and the Universe, that if possibility A occurred (brain surgery) I would do X, and if possibility B happened (no treatment) I would do Y. I made God, the Universe, and myself a promise. And now it was time to follow through. I just need to figure out the how of it.
When I reached my hotel room I decided to change travel plans and catch an early flight home. There was no need for me to stay in Cleveland because there wouldn’t be the afternoon appointment with the neurosurgeon and there wouldn’t be any further tests. The Heavens had other plans and no matter how hard I tried, changing my flight was unsuccessful. I decided to make limoncello out of lemons that day and hailed a taxi to bring me to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Music always seemed to soothe my soul.
I paid the entry fee and with less than two hours to explore this mecca of memorabilia and music awesomeness, I began my healing journey.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a massive collection of costumes, handwritten lyrics, quotes, concert posters, videos interviews, and hidden alcoves where one can immerse themselves in the music of their favorite artists.
I wandered from the Blues area, through the Folk Music section and enjoyed each decade until I reached the end of the exhibit halls. I found comfort and inspiration in the Jimi Hendrix quotes on the wall and reading the handwritten lyrics of The Beatles and Neil Young.
After walking through Pink Floyd’s The Wall exhibit, I stepped through a doorway of tall red lips and found myself in the temporary Rolling Stones area. I listened to almost every guitar riff or melody that was broken down into sections and then decided to take a break for a snack.
I’m not sure what I expected to find there, as I was just trying to spend time exploring instead of sitting in a hotel room crying about something beyond my control. I nibbled on a peanut butter cookie and gazed through some of the glass ceiling panels shining with the evening sunlight. I asked myself “What am I supposed to do now? How can I fix my life and be happy in the way I truly need to be?”
Of course, there wasn’t an answer to those questions. I was at the point where I wanted to leave the job I’m in, I needed to finish up the personal life business of selling my house and moving on in the way I need to be. And I just wanted to find my peace.
Nearby, the actual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee theater entrance was beckoning. I walked the red carpet into the dark hall and sat down to watch highlights of past ceremonies. Listening to the music, I felt a quiet calm come over me, even though I still wasn’t sure which direction my life would take from that moment.
As I moved to leave, one more performance came across that big screen, from the year 1999. I stood there, listening, taking in the actual words of the performance, the stellar musicians, and the meaning of it all. I left The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum with a feeling of reassurance, that no matter what the next day, week, or year might bring, everything was going to work itself out and be okay. I no longer needed to search the world for a solution or an answer. I needed to continue live my life, following my heart, be patient as things present themselves and try to find happiness in each day that I’m given. Life is good, and even if it isn’t going by my timeline, it’s slowly but surely inching its way forward.
The next day, I boarded my flight home to continue my journey of life and daily growth, and I was content. I was happy. I was open to see what Life put in my path next. And I remembered that song and the words. It was “Let It Be.”