Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/05/20

Respect the Steps

stepsMy friends, I feel like I have (finally) started to turn the corner.  This has been such a long haul of challenge for me, what with getting through radiation and recovering from it, dealing with a lung chronically in need of draining, and then being bumped off yet another study because of pretty (sadly) impressive tumor growth.  For a few days there, I was personally concerned, because my sense of humor was MIA, which is never a good sign.  The moment something humorous pops into my mind, I stop fretting so much and recognize that there will yet again be another rebound.  The time before that happens, however, is mighty tense time.

And aside from missing my funny bone, I really felt pretty lousy, y’all.  Truth be told, I’ve been bed-bound for over a week.  Today has been my best day yet, where I spent the bulk of it on the couch, SITTING UP instead of reclining! Yes, I’m back in bed now (that lung needing chronic draining needs it again, and will get it again on Tuesday, but it really does holler out for bed rest when it needs it), but seriously proud of today’s accomplishment.

Another accomplishment from this week was the hiring of my dear friend and housekeeper, Prayer Warrior Miss Amy, to clean more frequently for me than she’s been doing lately.  She has been biding her time, biting her lip for me to request more service, and even allowing for her to GIFT some of the cleaning to me each month (!) for a very very very very very very very very long time.  Like years, y’all.  I have long held onto my own, able to sweep the kitchen floor, thank you very much, and do the dishes, and change the sheets, and various and sundry other things to keep my household vermin-free and gag-less, but this round of physical yuck took me to a new place of “I just can’t do it anymore.”

My brother, when he was here last week, advised me to find more ways to delegate responsibilities.  My kids are extremely willing and able, just waiting for me to say “please,” so he advised I say it.  Between the time he made his suggestion and when I called Miss Amy, here’s what I learned:

YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THE STEPS.  Everything in life, everything we do, is a PROCESS.  My friend, Sharon W., used to quote her mom saying, “I can’t till I can,” meaning I can’t get to this issue until I have finished other things to free me up to get there, or until I’m emotionally ready to go.  SO many of you have offered (and done) to do so much for me, and I’ve felt kinda bad that I couldn’t say yes to your offers at the time.  But you see, I had a step to respect along the way, the step called “Mourn This.”

Every time I realize there’s something else from my “I used to do this all the time” list that now has to go on my “I can’t do this anymore list,” I have to process that loss, completely contemplate what the change means, envision a future that’s different, relinquish a tiny bit of my psyche.  It hurts, my friends.  It really does.  The lists do not balance anymore, and I am reluctant to type which list is longer now.  It makes me kinda sad.  But the lesson is this:  when you offer someone assistance, help them respect the steps.  If they’re not at the “I can mourn this and let it go” stage, they’re not ready, so please don’t push.  If they ARE at that stage but are having trouble going through it, be that great friend who helps them mourn and move on.  When they’ve achieved that triumph of conquering (or simply accepting) that step, do what Miss Amy did when I talked to her:  thank them for letting you help.  It really is the best way.

OK, this still leaves me a little bit sad, and I don’t want to close on a bummer, so here’s a nifty little piece of nostalgia for you, courtesy of YouTube and my warped brain.  For some reason, it popped into my head a few days ago and gave me a kick.


I wish you a week of no missteps,

Teri, the Stepping Forward Flying Elephant




  1. We’re here to help and bless one another- its the only way!
    Love to you on your journey!

  2. Dear Teri, As a fellow patient in the “Land of Lung Junk”, I just want to tell you how inspirational you are! I look forward to reading your blog each week. I don’t feel so alone as I read it.
    Thank you so much! I truly hope your new therapy works.

  3. Oh my, Robert. I hope I wasn’t offensive when I said it. Awkward teenage years! I have very sweet memories of you!

  4. Teri- I still remember slow dancing with you in Danny Heller’s living room. I was trying to keep a conversation going when you told me to just be quiet. Well, there is something to be said for quietly slow dancing. I owe that life lesson to you. All my love and healthy wishes.

    Robert Leb

  5. Sorry my friend for all of this crap. I send you bunches of hugs and a smiley face in hopes of putting a smile on your face. Hang in there. With much love.

  6. there you go again teaching us all how to do and undo life. your grace and goodness as always astound me. love you! patti

  7. Thanks, Susan. I don’t know how to be anything other than real. Hoping your journey has been smooth lately!

  8. Cancer is so HARD. And you just hate to give up so much of your energy to it because you are trying so hard to live. I appreciate that you still take time to blog your REAL thoughts and feelings to share with the rest of us struggling with lung junk. You are an inspiration. There is no way to sugar coat cancer. You have to take it straight. And that is a pretty tough to swallow some days. Thanks for being so honest with the realities of your experiences.

  9. Excellent points, Judith! And yes, my lung is worse than an oil guzzling car right now! Fortunately, the treatment isn’t so bad.

  10. Among your other attributes (funny, brave, loving, great writer), we now have “wise”. Wisdom, they say, is something you acquire with age…maybe also when a huge challenge smacks you upside the head?

    The thing about steps, though, is: sometimes the one-step-at-a-time gets untidy. You (general “you”) think you’ve passed through a step, or stage or phase, and whoops: it rears up and bites you. So, allow for some back-sliding.

    Also, remember when the Stages of Loss/Mourning were so popularized? And then, a bit later, “they” said: it’s okay if you experience them out of order, or even skip some, or even dwell on/in some.

    Just saying.

    SO glad to hear you sat up today!!! Huge!!!

    Hey: you’re getting your lung drained more often than our cars get their oil drained. Bad joke, except to my car-maintenance-fixated husband.

    With love and hugs…


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