Every 3rd of July I am reminded of fighting for my life in The Cleveland Clinic. Four years ago today I was in surgery, literally hoping for a miracle. Little did I know the miracle was sitting right here in Arizona, with Doctor Lettieri. On…
I remember taking this picture in 2015, just a year after being diagnosed with facial paralysis. Frenchie took me on a trip between surgeries; funny I can’t remember where we were. We’ve been on so many trips together trying hard to mark everything off of my bucket list. I do recall looking out of the window far above the clouds and seeing this breath-taking view; it was at this moment I realized I have taken so much for granted; our world is beautiful so many nooks and crannies we will never explore, but just knowing they are out there gives me hope and a sense of a spirit much larger than my soul can imagine.
There is so much to see in this beautiful world of ours; but my favorite place to be is with my family, there is no other joy and peace I feel watching my children grow into happy, healthy adults who cherish one another and understand the importance of time, time together making memories to last for eternity.
I started back to work yesterday, it was physically painful however I’ll take the pain over depression any day any time. There is something about being through so many surgeries, procedures, pokes and tests that make me wonder once again what I am supposed to be learning. I am well aware of all my weaknesses-I say damn and hell every once in a while, I judge people when I should be reaching out to them, I’m simply not perfect and not ready to die. I try daily to be better than I was the day before and so often fail in my attempt; but one thing I never do is leave my Heavenly Father out of my daily routine. He guides me and helps me to become the woman I strive to be.
This was me on May 1st, 2014 I thought I was so happy, look at my smile, my beautiful teeth. Oh how I loved to smile. I’d finished chemo, radiation and several surgeries and was well on my way to being ‘ok’ with living with cancer. I see some wrinkles, but mostly I see joy in my eyes for the happiness I felt being alive. Then life came to a screeching halt and I was once again faced with an unfortunate life altering transfiguration.
On May 15, 2014 this was me lying in the Mayo Clinic hospital fighting for my life. There was a sadness I had never experienced. My life would never be the same, my face would show the sadness and sorrow. There was simply no one on earth who could possibly understand what it felt like to hear my surgeon tell me “I’m sorry to tell you, your face will never be the same again, you need to get used to the new you”
That task seemed daunting and unachievable I didn’t know how I could face a world where physical beauty had become the main focus for so many people. I never realized I was one of those people, I was vain I wanted my smile back I wanted to be normal, heck I’d even take typical. With help from Dr.Lettieri teaching me grace comes from within, I have been able to somewhat come to accept who I am, what I am meant to do here on earth; and it is definitely not to be a fashion model. My Heavenly Father has so much more in store for me and I’ve come to understand true authenticity and absolute beauty comes from knowing who you are and where you are going, it comes from first loving yourself no matter the circumstances life throws at us. It certainly sounds easier than it actually is to do, I have spent 3 years working on myself, studying and trying to teach our youth to love their life. If all of us could see ourselves through our Father in Heaven’s eyes I think we would be surprised to know what He sees in each of us; I believe He knows my heart, He feels my pain but mostly He understands I am trying everyday to become a worthy woman of infinite worth in His eyes.
This was me just a few days ago at Shane Wright’s luncheon after his funeral; I love this picture with Archer, still bruised and swollen looking at this picture I realize my grandchildren will never know the face or person I used to be they only know Bonbon exactly how I am today, and they love me unconditionally as I do them. The woman in this picture has come a long way with still so much to learn about herself and other’s. There is no better Hope than knowing I have many years to learn and teach other’s how to cope with unforeseen circumstances and to accept to love themselves in away no one on earth can understand. I am truly blessed and Amazed at the grace He so fully offers all of us.
My body has physically been through so much trauma, I often wonder how I have survived it all. Yesterday I had the pleasure of picking up Recker from school. My Heavenly Father knew I needed this sweet boy in my life, he was born just four months after I was diagnosed, I was blessed to be able to watch him when his mom (my daughter) went back to work. I will never forget the day I stood at the top of my stairs and begged Eric not to go to work, the depression was so bad during chemo I wanted to literally die. Eric looked up at me and said “Your almost done babe, just keep fighting. Recker is coming over today you need to be here for him.” I sat on the floor and bawled as I listened to him shut the door. I couldn’t imagine one more day of throwing up, pain and depression.
When Recker arrived I dried my eyes and held him in my arms. I’d make it through another day staring into his beautiful eyes, the focus on him kept me alive I loved taking care of him he needed me and I needed him. Within a year he was diagnosed with Autism, although we were incredibly sad, we also had no idea what autism was or how it would effect our family. Eight years later, I constantly wish I could be in his head and understand what he is feeling or thinking.
When I picked him up from school, he got in the back seat put on his seat belt–I looked back at him to make sure he was safe, smiled put my finger to my chin and said “I love you Recker” he then put his finger to his chin and said what sounded to be “I love you.” We drove in silence, well except me talking to him about his day and how school was–he stared into the open air with no response. When we arrived at my home he immediately put his swim suit on and was ready to dive into the not so warm water. I sat and watched him swim for over two hours with no verbal communication. He was perfectly content and so happy.
I realized while watching him, it’s us that are sad for him-he will eventually if he hasn’t already understand that he is different, but we try to teach him he is not less than any other child or person-just different. That night I went to see the movie ‘I Can Only Imagine’ a true story I recommend everyone to see. It was difficult to sit through, this boy was abused physically and verbally by his father and so many parts of it reminded me of my younger years.
Tonight as I ponder the words from that song, I tried to lose myself in the words of the beautiful words. I can only imagine what it will be like to be in Heaven once again with Recker, both of us with perfect bodies and minds, no more trauma or mis-understandings just pure love. I will finally be surrounded by the unconditional love of a God who has reached down and pulled me out of difficult times. I can only imagine when that day comes my heart will be entwined with perfect knowledge of exactly what God see’s in each one of us.. I will probably have a hard time speaking, but we will not be able to get Recker to stop talking, it’s interesting in our lives we take so much for granted. I cannot image living in a world where you want so badly to communicate with people, especially the people you love most-family. Imagine how hard it would be to understand every word other’s are saying but not being able to respond. What a joyous day it will be for me to see Recker embrace our Savior and hear Him tell Recker what a special boy he is.
On a few occasions I have had the opportunity during surgeries to visit Heaven and see a glimps of what I believe is the most beautiful, perfect place I have ever visited. Because of those visits I have been granted, I want to live my life in a way my family will be proud of, I want to help and serve other’s I will do anything it takes to live there for Eternity once my body is ready to part from this world. It is glorious and beautiful nothing hear on earth compares to Heaven–I will be with Recker, Ezra and Theo and hopefully my entire family for eternity–I love that thought.
Love Monya Bonbon
I’ve been thinking about this little home in Tahiti. Frenchie and I visited here a few years ago. Just behind this small little hut is a beautiful ocean full of wonder and amazement.
As a child I lived in several different houses, none that I would call home. The anger and defilement left me with resentment and ultimate loneliness. No one in our home was allowed to be or do ‘better‘ than the stepdad. I always had to be smaller and less important he took it out on me with his words and when that was not fulfilling enough for him his rage took over, and ….well he always won. It had to be his way.
I never wanted my children to feel pain, sorrow or insignificant. I tried my hardest to shelter them from fear or need of love. The truth is as a parent we make mistakes, I’ve made mistakes–I didn’t know how to comfort my own children when I was diagnosed with cancer. For twenty five years I’d built four walls around myself, hating the very home I banked on dying in (my physical body) I liked how it felt to not feel anything, it was my comfort zone–no one in, no one out. I’m not sure how I became the exact person I never wanted to be. Unfortunately there are other’s out in the world who are feeling this nothingness right now.
We are all born and one day we will all die; I’ve learned it’s between birth and death that we make the most impact not only on our own lives but our posterity-the children who will come after I am gone.
I’m trying for the first time to see through the eyes of my children. I’m beginning to imagine how hard it must have been on each one of them hearing their mother had cancer. I was not as sensitive as I thought I was, it is now apparent to me while the spot light has been on me I had no idea what they each were feeling and still don’t.
In an instant our lives changed when we heard “You have cancer” and for me even more when I heard “Your face will never be the same again.” For some reason I believe cancer was much harder on my children than the diagnosis of facial paralysis. For them they are grateful to still have their mother around, I get that now. In some ways I believe they are still processing those feelings.
However, for me the emotions are much different. I don’t expect them or anyone else to understand. I am not the person I was five, even two years ago–and my children are not the same people they were five years ago either. Heart wrenching hard times have fallen on our home, and now it is time to rebuild.
Tearing down that old house may or may not be harder than I think it will be–all I know for sure right now is just like this small cozy home in Tahiti there is wonderment and amazing things just around the corner.
With every crash of every wave I hear something now I never listened to before-I stand on the edge of the cliff listening and waiting for whisperings of what to do next.