Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Not Always About Cancer

I was chatting in the hallway yesterday with a co-worker.  Another co-worker, we'll call her Sunshine, arrived to start a meeting with the first guy.  Anyway, she took a look at the necklace I was wearing and said, "I love your necklace.  Is it in honor of your mother-in-law?  Oh, I mean your mother?"
Puzzlement! I couldn't imagine how my necklace would have inspired her to ask that. 

"No," I answered, "it actually represents my oldest son and me.  We were both born in July; these are our birthstones."

"I see.  It does resemble the ribbon, though." (Sunshine does not like to be incorrect.)

"I guess maybe it does," I answered.

And then she and my other co-worker made their excuses and commenced their meeting.  Sunshine didn't say anything particularly wrong (although, it should be noted that she sidestepped saying the word 'cancer' which contributed to my 'Wha?'). 

Anyway, this necklace of mine...  It doesn't really look like a cancer ribbon.  If anything, it looks like two cherries. It's an elongated loop of gold, almost like a cursive capital 'I,' studded with diamonds.  A ruby punctuates each strand of the loop. 

You'd have to look pretty hard to see a cancer ribbon.  And this has made me wonder: is this the lens through which people see me now? As someone who's mother died of cancer? I don't know if I'm okay with that. It's undeniably a part of my identity. We are all made up of our triumphs and tragedies.  But it's not all of who I am.

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