Black & White
One day recently, Levi and I were discussing the crazy food cravings he would get during chemo. He couldn’t eat, but he would sit there with his eyes closed - I thought he was resting- and then out of the blue he would sit straight up and abruptly announce-“Buffalo Chicken Wrap!” Or “The Linebacker Burger!” It would startle me. Then I realized he had been dreaming about food. He would go on to describe it in great detail and talk about how much he wanted to eat it. He would say, “Mom, when I can eat again, can we go to (insert some restaurant we maybe haven’t been to in years) to get (insert random food craving here)? I would laugh. “Of course we can!” He would go days without eating and would be so incredibly hungry, but simply could not eat. So when he was having a good day, we would eat! One time he requested a very specific burger that was no longer on the menu at Champs. He remembered precisely every ingredient that was on that burger. I called them to see if there was any way I could get it for him and the manager said, “Sure! Just let me know when you come in and we’ll make it for him.” And they did. I’m pretty sure he was moaning as he took each bite, juice running down his forearms. And I’m pretty sure I was fighting back tears. I was so grateful and will never forget their kindness.
We don’t eat out a lot, so I thought it was particularly funny that he was choosing these random foods that, in some cases, he had eaten 5 years prior but for some reason had popped into his head. I’m sure part of wanting to go to a restaurant was just to get out, to feel normal. Most of our interactions with the public for that year took place in various hospitals and cancer centers so no one ever took a second glance at him. But when we went to restaurants people would stare. He had lost all of his hair, was painfully thin and his skin was an odd shade of green/gray. Sometimes we had to help him walk. He was obviously sick. As a mother, this was particularly painful.
While we were reminiscing and laughing about his food cravings and this comical part of chemo- the ONLY comical part of chemo- I said, “We should really write this stuff down.” Levi mentioned a blog and, long story short, we decided to write one together. We discussed what to call the blog. I suggested Purpose in the Pain, but he didn’t like the word pain. Even though there was incredible pain, I guess he didn’t want to focus on that, or give it any more power. It had taken up enough of our lives. His constant ability to see the good is inspiring, and I appreciated and heeded his wise words. We ultimately settled on Black & White… and the grays in between.
Why Black & White? Because they are opposites, yet complementary. They symbolize tension and harmony. Or sometimes can imply a dichotomous way of thinking. They also imply that something is basic, bare, and unadorned. Simple, no frills, and to the point. Highlighting the contrast that is created when one is placed next to the other. Light being visible only in the presence of darkness. Death or life. You could go on and on. We thought all of this was fitting because the arrival of cancer was a very distinct line in the sand so to speak. It was clearly defined. When you are diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that is about as black and white as you can get.
“The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.” - Carl Jung