It’s been pretty chilly here in Florida for the last few days. I am not one to complain about the cold, though. I have lived my entire life in Florida, and I swear, each year it just gets hotter and hotter. The “cool” days become more rare, and us Floridians anxiously await the temps to drop below the 80’s so we can don our knee high boots, cute coats, fancy scarves, and sassy hats. Of course, if you are melanoma warrior, a hat becomes more a daily wardrobe item, which is fine by me, because I can definitely rock a hat!
This morning, it was somewhere in the 40s outside and 63 degrees inside. Stupid touch screen on the heater doesn't work. So I bundled my kids up in the clothes they will only get to wear about 4 times this year before growing out of them by the next year, and we left to drop my son off at Pre-K. As soon as her brother was out of the car, my sweet (and feisty), divaesque, 3 year-old daughter asked me to take her to get some hot cocoa. One of our favorite mommy/daughter things to do is go to Target. We get hot cocoa and walk around while she sings too loud, and I tell her to be quiet and I put stuff in the cart and she tells me to put it back.
Forty-five minutes, a rickety cart full of fruit, and several renditions of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars later, we ventured back out into the “cold.” Our tummies were warm from our hot cocoa, her cocoa, my mocha latte, and the weather had also warmed just a bit.
After putting my daughter in her car seat, I walked to the back of my car where I left the shopping cart. An older gentleman was standing there waiting for me. For a second, I thought he wanted the cart and wondered why he would stand in the cold for my cart when there were million carts inside. I realized my eyes and nose were all scrunched up as a result of my thinking that it's a rather odd thing to do, so I looked at him and smiled. He said, “I saw your license plate.” Immediately, I thought, OH NO, what is wrong with my license plate? Then he lifted his baseball cap and tilted his head down to show me a large bandage on the top right side of his head. That's when it hit me, he was referring to my Light Skinned Mother- Melanoma Awareness plate.
He was one of "us."
If you've never seen this video, No Rain, by Blind Melon. You must watch it here. Then you'll understand why this video came to mind.
He told me he just had melanoma removed a few weeks ago. I said, “Oh wow,” and then I smiled and lifted my chin to show him the scar on my neck. I told him I was diagnosed in June, and he let me know that he sees his “skin doctor every 6 months now.” I wished him the best, he said, “You too,” and he was on his way into the store.
For a second, I felt as if maybe I should have said or done more. I could have gotten his name. We could have had lunch, met each other’s families, and chatted about all of our melanoma fears. We could have become lifelong friends. Then I chuckled at how silly I can be at times. But, as I sat in my car, I started to smile. As the feeling took over me, I was reminded of how nice it is to meet a kindred spirit on this journey. I am not happy that he had melanoma, but it’s always good to know I am not alone, and I am glad I was able to let him know that he isn’t alone. Isn’t that what we all want anyways? To find our own bumble bee people to understand us?
On my way home, instead of stressing about ALL the work I had to do today, I began to think of all the beautiful people I have met in the last 6 months, whether it was in person or over the internet, and how many of them made me feel whole again. They made me feel understood. They made me feel like this picture below.
To all my melanoma warriors out there, you are my inspiration. To all my readers who have never had melanoma, you too, are an inspiration, because you are educating yourself in order to be healthier. You know a lot more than I ever did about skin cancer and melanoma prevention.
I hope we all meet many kindred souls on our individual journeys. Though it is our journey to take alone, it is nice to have some company here and there, along the way.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun.