Some titles just take a bit of time to get used to.
That’s what I came to realize most recently when our Editor and personal longtime friend Marg Jackson asked if I would be able to attend the 2021 Relay For Life Survivor Luncheon.
Inquiring on when and where it would be hosted, I quickly realized as she replied, I simply wasn’t ready.
Her invitation also happened to find me on the afternoon of a day I had attended a funeral service for a young lady whose body couldn’t withstand all that had been given to her all at once.
This young woman had heard her diagnosis of Leukemia just a month shy of my own diagnosis. So as the months went by, treatments began and hair became a thing of the past for us both, we would fantasize, along with her mom, about the day the three of us would celebrate our “cancer free” status.
The good news is, she did get that news, kind of. A four month remission from a merciless disease hardly seems right. She was 20 years old when she finally rested from the battle.
There’s no way to make rhyme or reason why I’m still here typing away and this lively young lady was called home, yet here we are.
“Survivor”? I thought about this title, label, state of being quite some time on Monday. As a writer I pondered how to make it relatable to readers. Then I thought back to the topic of titles in general.
As I reflected I thought of marriage and first being called Mrs. Hammond. Another time in my life when the title transition was a little “daunting” for lack of a better word. Prior to the day I said “I do” Mrs. Hammond was my mother-in-law, not me. Yet here I was, in my 20’s and a “Mrs.” That took some time and while I was both happy and proud to be adjoined to the name it was a transition nonetheless.
Years later, the title of mom or mommy (if being more accurate) would find me and that seemed to be a bit surreal more than daunting. That title was much different than that of wife and Mrs. That title brought with it a different sense of responsibility, as well as pride and completion. The title of mommy transitioned us from a couple to a family. My throat still swells as I think to those little voices calling my name (the mommy one, that is).
So here’s the funny thing about titles, whether it be yoga teacher, writer, widow, wife, mom or survivor – each find you in their own time. Some we greet with open arms and acceptance. Some we embrace slowly and take a bit more time to settle into. While others, well those are the ones we never dreamed of, fathomed or even considered; yet, here we are.
Personally, I’m not sure if you’ll ever find me at a “Survivor” table and that’s said with no disrespect to the people I admire who share that company, it’s just a personal choice. That being said (and giving a shameless plug), while I may not be seen at the table, I will gladly speak as a survivor and share my story for those who wish to listen.
Public speaking and writing are my comfort zones. So, while you may find me at the mic as the Survivor Speaker for Relay For Life on Saturday, October 9, that’s just entirely different. That may impact a life in a way I can’t imagine. That is potentially life changing stuff.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.