I am extremely glad that I had the presence of mind to enjoy the “space between”. The space between the strife in my childhood and the issues I have had this past decade. Not everyone does this and that, my friends, is very sad.

When I was very young, there were issues. My birth father left for good the night before I started kindergarten. I loved him so much and then, he was gone. Only a woman who has lost a father can understand how this affects you throughout your entire life. Although you know that it really isn’t you that is being “left”, you still feel inadequate and very alone. To top it off, there was only one other kid in my grade at Old Farms Elementary School who had divorced parents. That is the truth. There was only  one other kid. I felt alienated and misunderstood. There were some parents who wouldn’t let their children play with me. Somehow, as has been my way throughout my life, I was able to “mask” my negative feelings and project to the world strength and happiness. I did well in school and had lots of friends. Inside, however, I had many feelings of sadness and loss.

I was so lucky to have a strong mother, who always took care of us and made us feel loved and protected.  There is no substitute, however, for a girl having a daddy. It is just a different thing.

Then, my mother met my stepfather (who I refer to in these blogs as my “father”) and my baby sister was born. My life turned around. I felt loved and safe.  Things were more “normal” and less mercurial than they had been throughout my early childhood.  I gained self-confidence and my sense of self got stronger.

I really think that I led a pretty charmed life for the next twenty or so years. There was really no “masking” necessary.  I had friends, boyfriends, parties to go to, people to see. I made honors classes, made honor roll every quarter and was nominated for “best looking” in Junior High (although I lost to Kristen Church) . I was the lead in every school and camp play, got the solos in chorus and won “best singer” and “best eyes” as a senior. I always felt blessed to have all different kinds of friends. Some were jocks, some were “nerds”, some were popular and some were, what some people would call “misfits” and some were smokers (of various substances) in what we used to refer to as “dirt bag alley”. I always seemed to be able to get along with just about anyone. I went to five proms and won “best camper” more than once at the Smithtown “Y”.  I had a best friend who made me cardboard “N”s with bubble gum and ribbons taped to them on my birthday and I always had plans for the weekend. I got into a good college and made the dean’s list there. I rose through the ranks at every job I had and helped build a successful business. I married my high school sweetheart and we are still married. I had no trouble getting pregnant and had two beautiful and healthy babies who are the lights of my life. I was able to buy a home on Long Island and take regular vacations with my family. I had my grandparents until I was in my late thirties. I had an extended family who loved and supported me.

There is, of course, so much more but, that pretty much summed up my life before B.C. (Before Cancer)  and, well, it was pretty damned good. I am not saying I was happy twenty-four seven; I cried over boys, I was frustrated with my early curfew, I fought with my sisters. But, all in all, I was happy.  I am so lucky that I enjoyed that time!

Some of the positives were of my own doing. The fact that I was enjoying my life gave me confidence and motivation and helped me to achieve even more. Some, I suppose, were just fate and luck (or blessings, if you prefer to look at it that way). I thank God all the time that I didn’t take those years for granted. When I was first diagnosed and didn’t know if the cancer had spread or if I would be ok, I was terrified. I had a lot of emotions but, I can tell you one that I did not have.

Regret.

You see, I tried things in life. I took chances. I have made speeches and sung in front of rooms full of people. I left a successful job at a big company to take a chance on having something that was my own. I volunteered for things, even if I was scared and I put myself out there to learn about people and to befriend people, even at the risk of rejection.  I told boys that I loved them and entered contests just to see if I could win.  I loved and lost but, I lived those years.

What a waste it would have been if I had not. These past years have been so difficult that, although I did try every day to be positive and happy, it is something I struggled with. I had worries that were heavy and real.

I just had my last surgery. I am done, as long as this cancer stays away.  This is my A.C. (After Cancer) time and, I am going to ENJOY it. After all, I am wise enough now to know that this is just another “space between”.  Life is hard and things happen.

Please don’t waste your “space between”.