Make Your Own Occasions

Today is Monday. I’m going to wear a dress.

In itself, this is not an earth shattering concept. But let me explain a bit about how it comes about.

The other night, I was having a deeply philosophical conversation (okay, a “three glasses of wine in” conversation) with my dear friend A. I was remarking on the number of Pinterest posts of dresses, shoes, jewelry etc. that posters had commented “Beautiful. Wish I had somewhere to wear this”, or “I’d never have an occasion to wear this.”

Two years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer; both breasts. At the same time, she was on the very top of the kidney transplant waiting list (one is not supposed to know they are at the top, but the nurses who care for my mom? . . . . well, she’s a favourite of theirs). Transplants are not given to people with cancer because the anti-rejection drugs taken after the transplant will speed up the production of cancerous cells if cancerous cells are indeed in the person’s body. So this new diagnosis after already waiting eight years for a kidney was an extremely harsh blow. My mom would have to be taken off the transplant list, fight the cancer, win against cancer and then go back onto the transplant list.

My mother; a fortitude of strength, made an instantaneous decision. Double mastectomy.  She said “I’m in my 60’s. I’m not having any more kids. My husband loves me . . . what do I need them for? I just need to get on with it, with living.”

Out came the breasts. She started chemotherapy. Her hair started to come out. We shaved her head. We cried. We bought beautiful scarves and dressed them up with brooches. My mother can rock a turban like nobody’s business.

And we started using the good china. For breakfast.  For meatloaf on a Tuesday night. For any occasion we felt like it. Because we had come face to face with the reality that life can quickly change directions on you and that there could come a day when we would no longer have occasions to celebrate.

So we MADE the occasions. And this is life. It’s not entirely about the occasions that are presented to you. Often it is about the occasions you create for yourself.

Today, my mom is a Silver Fox. She has a beautiful head of silver hair. We have 14 more months of testing to make sure she is cancer-cell-free. Then she goes back to the top of the wait list. In the meantime, we enjoy life.

Today, on a Monday, I’m going to wear a dress. I’m going to do my hair and make-up and then get on the skytrain and go to work. I will undoubtedly be the most elegantly dressed person riding public transit. But it doesn’t matter. It’s not important that people wonder why I’m dressed up. Let them wonder. Let them think I have some special occasion that I’m off to. 

The truth is I’m off to the most important occasion in life: life itself.

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