The weekend before my birthday, five of my dear friends from Los Angeles agreed to drive up to Sonoma for a little pre-birthday bash. It felt like the perfect getaway after spending the past several weeks home in Austin, so I booked my ticket to San Francisco and spent a three-hour flight daydreaming about all that was in store. When I arrived a few hours before the other girls, however, I started to panic about being so far away from home, and from my dad.
I envisioned that cancer would do what it does best by throwing us a curve ball, and I wouldn’t be there at his side when it happened. Our imaginations are so powerful and within seconds, I had decided to pack all my stuff and take the first flight out until my best friend’s mom walked in and witnessed firsthand my paralysis. “You OK, Lex?” Immediately tears ran down my face and I started sputtering fears of being so far away, of not wanting to be a Debbie Downer to all the girls, and my thoughts of heading home. Her response was simple, “Well, you came here for a reason and you’re here now; so if you’re here, really be here or go home.”
With that she walked out, and I hopped in the shower. I cried a few last tears, took a deep breath, and said, â��OK Lex, we can do this.â�� I made the decision to be present. I wasnâ��t ignoring the fact that my dad was in a hospital bed, but I chose to focus on the fact that my girlfriends were headed in, and if there was one thing I was in need of, it was friends. Needless to say, the weekend ended up being one for the history books. Somewhere in the midst of stunning vineyards, wine sipping, eating, shot taking, serenading Larry (our poor taxi driver), napping in the park, and the heart-to-heart that brought tears streaming down all of our faces, I was given a reprieve. It was this little unexpected slice of joy, a shot of unconditional love, along with a spoonful of pure fun that gave my heart wings and my spirit a positive jolt.
You see, one thing I have learned along this crazy cancer journey with my father is that in the midst of your storm, a crappy day, week or even year, you have to fight to see the fireflies in the darkness. It doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods or that your reality has suddenly changed; it just means you can revel in the sweet moments. My weekend in wine country was the best medicine I could have imagined. Three days later, I went back home and nothing had changed, not even a bit.
Amelia Earhart was on to something when she said that fear is just “paper tigers.” You can live your whole life as though something may or may not happen, but that’s not living. Fear is a dangerous and convincing monster that keeps us playing small, unhappy, and distraught over the possibility of what may never come.
So, I challenge you not to give into it. You’re here, so be here today. Revel in the fireflies, the bright little moments that make you smile. Go have fun with your girlfriends, laugh too much, and maybe even have one two many adult beverages.
To my girls, Emmy, Josey, Tam, Suz, and Jenny; I love y'all with all my heart. Thank you for a much-needed, magical weekend.