I said YES

From SINGING THE LIVING TRADITION
Text by Alicia S. Carpenter:Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, 'Yes' to life;though with pain I made my way, still with hope I meet each day.If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, 'Yes', to lifeJust as long as vision lasts, I must answer, 'Yes' to truth;in my dream and in my dark, always: that elusive spark.If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, 'Yes' to truth.Just as long as my heart beats, I must answer, 'Yes' to love;disappointment pierced me through, still I kept on loving you.If they ask what I did best, tell them I said, 'Yes' to love.
 
Joanie's last journal entry and profile both talk about a choice, about saying Yes. I feel this in my heart as the way to live my best life, but I'll admit it isn't always easy. It's freaking hard. To meet each day with hope, to choose truth, to love through disappointment... these things are like hurdles or cloudbanks or fiery pits... and I honor everyone who faces these obstacles in her day. 
Andy's addictions were my disappointment. I know addiction is a disease. I understand the part of the brain where addiction lives, and know it isn't a character flaw. It runs in families, and genetic tribal groups. Andy was clearly prone, from the get go. There were signs. By the time he was 18, he had gotten seriously into drinking and drugs. He went through college (four years in six schools, decent grades, no degree because you can't transfer that much without losing credits up the yin-yang!) and then started to more seriously struggle. He could hold a job just enough to support his needs. He resisted the deadly drugs like meth, crack, and heroin, but just barely. 
Then, four years ago this summer, a dear friend of his was killed by a tree falling on the tent where she was camping with some friends. Completely random accident. Andy said he was never the same after that. I felt like I should have talked more with him about it... that I had not somehow equipped him with the inner resources to at least engage in the grief. Because as we know, it won't go away on its own. 
Andy also suffered from nasty SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. In Maine the sun sets on December 21st around 3:45 in the afternoon, and he was so depressed and drag-ass by the end of each January and February that I could hardly get him out of bed in his high school years. (Moving to Colorado for his senior year and to places like India, Asheville North Carolina and Oakland California helped him a lot, later on.) Still, HE was not able to say YES to life without an extra measure of courage which I have only recently begun to appreciate.
In fact, when he was diagnosed with cancer, and had a craniotomy, and went through whole brain radiation, he was so out of it that we were taking care of a very different person. The depression was gone. He was like an innocent dependent child again.
Slowly as the fog of radiation and the trauma of brain surgery lifted, the old Andy emerged. Then with the failure of chemo and the bad news of tumor growth in MRI's, the courage emerged. He didn't want to have cancer and he didn't want to give it even a moment's attention. He didn't even want to waste precious minutes being angry at it, but of course once in a while he had to rage and rail. Then he would return to his life... choosing it. Choosing not to live an angry life. He wanted to live a loving life. He said no to cancer and yes to life, and he tried to LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE right up to the end. He didn't drop and fall apart until five days before he died. What I am trying to say is that his saying YES and his choosing to LIVE were acts of courage against all the odds, all his predispositions, all the bad news. 
How could I be less brave than Andy? After his depression, his addiction, his struggles with self-esteem, his losses, and his own grieving for his own life, so brave and so quiet and private, not wanting it to be anyone else's problem, he still embraced each day with human grace and vulnerability. How outrageous it would be for me to have less courage than him. I feel that I owe it to him to get up and say yes to whatever my day can offer me, and say yes to whatever I can offer my day. It makes me cry but that's the price we pay. Being in touch with the pain means I am alive. Being alive means I am in touch with the pain. Ouch. Yes. Ouch. Yes. Yes. Ouch. Damn. Yes. Ouch. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.  

Replies

CorriesMom
CorriesMom

Wow! I try to choose to say YES as well and your final line says it all \"Ouch. Yes. Ouch....\" I cheer that Andy chose to say YES to life even as the brain cancer made its ugly way through his system. YES to Andy!!!

Sending so much love and the tightest of hugs today ~ Debbie
KandL
KandL

Yes, Yes I agree wholeheartedly! What a wonderful & courageous young man Andy was on this earth. His courage lives on in his mom as you embrace life, even tearfully. I agree with Debbie, Yes to Andy! I applaud him. And much love to you, Linda
Livingjuicy
Livingjuicy

I say a heartfelt, \"Yes!\" to all that I read in your entry. Thank you for introducing us to your incredible son, Andy, and to you. Showing up for our lives is what we are asked to do again and again and again. Thank you for the reminder that just for today I will say, \"Yes,\" and I will \"show up.\" Life is for the living and I believe we are all companioning one another into learning how to do this once again. I look to you and to the other precious moms here to show me the way. Love and hugs and a great big huge YES! Joanie
biowoman
biowoman

Thank you for sharing Andy\'s story...I could see and hear and feel him in this journal. His struggles were your struggles, his joys...yours. Depression and addiction are so powerful...and yet there is such a message about the strength of the human will in Andy\'s story. It reminds us that we DO have to choose...as he did...to fight to live...to be reselient...and do it with vigor. I know you are proud of Andy for his determination and how now he leads us to remember to choose life. Love to you....Karen