Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Story Behind the Red Balloon.

A lifetime ago, I sat in a group therapy session with an incredibly harsh yet wonderful therapist. One day, after I had told her my (tragic!) life story ..... she mimed herself vomiting.

At first I thought something was wrong - but no. She was completely and utterly taking the piss. "Oh Eden! Somebody pass me a bucket - I'm going to throw up. Ugh. Poor, poor Eden."

And there it was. All of my shiny, gold excuses I made, to not live life accordingly. To wallow in my self-pity and despair. My bad childhood was a gift. Throw in a few dead dads and you got yourself a bonafide eternal wailing wall.

A few months later, after much more work on myself, I came to value everything this therapist said. One day, we were talking about coincidences. She said that nothing was ever a coincidence .... she called them "God-instances." Now *I* wanted to throw up, so wanky was that expression.

But ever since that day, I have come to believe that something deeper is going on, every time a coincidence "happens."


Remember my last blog post? I wanted to write about it to kind of announce that the eBay auction was coming up. (Mine goes on sale in a few days). Plus I love the fact that I felt like I was a part of something that was making a difference.

If you haven't read it, I totally suggest you do before reading on.

I'll wait.

(Does a solo living room dance. AGAIN.)

So. That lovely lady I was telling you about, Alex? She emailed me, after she read that post. I was holding Rocco when I read her email. He was squirming around in my arms .... I had to take my glasses off, because halfway through reading Alex's email I was crying so much that they fogged up. You can't cry properly with glasses on.

Rocco stopped squirming as I read the rest of Alex's exquisite, tender words. He looked up at me, and kept looking to my computer screen - trying to see what was making his mummy upset. Then he sternly said - "Mummy! Glassis. ON!"

Because in the brain of a two-year old, if mum puts her glasses back on she'll stop crying.

Dave got home not long after, and straight away asked why I had been crying. (Because, you know .... PUFFY.)

He was getting changed into his gym clothes, so I took my laptop in and asked him did he remember how that photographer called Alex did up a piece of art from my blog post? He did - he was the one that found it, when we walked around and around the Hilton that night. Him - the Lonely Penis in a Sea of Glorious Estrogen.

I loved it as soon as I saw it - it is FULL. I like full things. It has stuff and energy and life to it. Bits of scrawled words and trinkets and odds and ends.

See the red balloon? It's above that sparkly magic wand ... underneath the gumby-like necklace.

That red balloon is incredible.

Here are some excerpts of Alex's email, published here with her permission:

"The Dylan quote is from my father. When I was in college I took that card from an old box (he typed it when he was in college) and I've kept it somewhere I could see it ever since. I feel very lucky that we’re close. (My parents have been married almost 35 years -- which in Hollywood years is like 200. But, I have eleven grandparents. My family is complicated. ) The Dickinson quote is something I just love. No other reason than that. The “Finish the day and be done with it” note is something I keep tacked on my real inspiration board as a daily reminder:

- Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just after I sent in my photo (of the finished artwork) in July, I went to read your blog, and started with "27 Versions of the Truth." I then emailed the woman coordinating the art auction:

12 July 2010 - “I know I can’t talk to the blogger I was paired with, but I wanted to share with you. There are moments in life when you think paths must cross for a reason.” There is a red balloon on the right hand side of the collage. I wrote to her that I carried that red balloon amongst hundreds of others to honor those affected by lymphoma. My particular balloon was in honor of my late cousin E who who had been diagnosed too late with Stage IV B-Cell Follicular Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. As I wrote to the woman from Kirtsy, “… the same type of cancer SURVIVED by the husband of the blogger I was paired with (insert goosebumps and lump in throat here). E's death is one of those things it is impossible to try and make sense of. But there is such hope and joy as I read that someone else's story didn't end the same way.”

The night I first read your 27 Versions of the Truth and reached the part about Dave's cancer, I wept. But they were tears of joy. I thought about how that red balloon photo crept into the corner as I was piecing this collage together, and it meant something to me but no one else. And suddenly it connected me to this unknown woman in another hemisphere, through something that no one should ever have in common. In the great wide world of blogs, I don't know if our paths would have crossed if not for this project...the universe works in amazing ways.

I admit that I was hesitant about sharing this with you. I almost deleted the note twice. But then I went back to your blog and read below your photo, "I'll show you my Universal Truth if you show me yours." And I decided I had to thank you. I'd been waiting since July 12th to share my gratitude. You, Dave, and your boys are proof that there is a great big life to be led after cancer. And in fabulous Chanel sandals no less.
Eden, every post I read about the life you and Dave are living brings me happiness beyond words. The Los Angeles chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is on this November 6th, if I were there, I would have proudly carried a a large, glimmering, white survivor balloon in celebration of your incredible, YSL suit-sporting husband and his triumph.*

Take care, talk to you soon,



I know. Are your glasses off?

As I was reading it out to Dave, my voice grew thick and I started weeping again. And so did he. (It takes a LOT to make that guy cry.)

He said "Stop it hon! You're making me cry! What? Wow!"

I was so distressed I had to leave the frickin room, so deeply did this affect me.

We know, that every day is a bonus. We know what it's like to have your whole life hanging in the balance, hinging on the latest round of chemotherapy. It's beyond terrible. I remember thinking that it was literally horrible - filled with horror.

I was absolutely obsessed, after Dave's diagnosis ... to find out EXACTLY what kind of lymphoma he had. There's about a hundred different kinds of variations. B-cell, C-cell, aggressive, passive, lymph nodes, mestatic, blah blah blah. I ended up ringing his doctor incessantly, on the sly. I found out, went home and told Dave. "OK. Hon, you have Stage IV B-Cell Follicular Non-Hodgkins." As if knowing exactly what is was could magically help us fight it better. Dave just blankly stared at me, not caring in the slightest. My beigest, baldest, badger guyo.

E and Dave had exactly the same kind. Dave had the dumb luck of having his tumours grow so they caused him to double over in pain. If they had grown silently, they would have just spread around and not been noticed until it was too late. I was so bloody cranky when he started showing symptoms. So pregnant and so cranky.

E was a mother. A wife, a daughter ... a cousin. Something tells me she was an incredible woman. I'm so very sorry that she is gone.


I can't really find the right words to end this post.

I like things to "mean" something. To live consciously, acknowledging Grace and Spirit when they come into our lives.

Cancer has burnt and changed us all, in this family. It probably does in every family. I'm ridiculously blown open, these days. I think I'm a nicer person from it. I smile more, like a know a secret. (Life is too short. You only have today - not even today. You only have this second, right NOW. What are you going to do with it?)

It's why we went on a second honeymoon NOW, not in ten years. It's why we visited an orphanage, gave money to every bum in New York and every beggar in Bali. Why we laugh at the craziness of our heads and our lives, often. Poke fun at the seriousness and the bullshitness of it all. Often.

Life is so majestic and so stupid. There's no point on waiting for the next thing to happen - you have to make it happen. You can never "find yourself" ..... you gotta create yourself!

This is not a dress rehearsal, man. It's the real deal.



*I'm pretty sure Alex will be walking in the Light the Night Walk, in the town where she has work commitments. Also, she's not married, like I previously, arrogantly announced. I was wrong. She's still hot, though.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)

"The largest annual fundraiser for the LLS is the Light The Night Walk, a non-competitive walk held at various sites throughout the US and Canada, raising funds for blood cancer research and patient support. Children, adults, and seniors walk carrying illuminated balloons - supporters carry red balloons, survivors and patients carry white balloons, and gold balloons are held in memory of a loved one."

Lymphoma Australia

"Lymphoma Australia is a charitable not for profit organisation that provides information for lymphoma patients and their carers about support and treatments."


  1. So anyway - how we met was coincidence. I met Dave the next day.

    My husband lost his best friend to leukemia. I Know life is short but I do forget.

    The biggest coincidence?

    Of all the millions of quotes in the world it is that Emerson quote that I have where I can see it everyday.

    That and " if the onlyprayer you ever utter is thank you then that is enough"

  2. WOW! I don't have to tell you Eden that you are a very fortunate woman to still have your guy bye your side. Hold him tight. x

  3. Cancer is weird, man. It affects everyone around the patient. Take me, for example. A six-year-old diagnosed with rhabdomiosarcoma and given about a 15% chance of survival: my mother becomes so overprotective it's almost crippling to her children's development, my father loses his faith and never steps into a church again, my godmother reclaims her faith, my grandmother gets sober, my brother and sister - both babies when my mom dedicated herself to my survival - grow up with abandonment issues, my greath grandmother reaches out to us from the afterlife (long story). Oh, and the boy who kicked me where my tumor was and basically saved my life, brags about being a hero to this very day.

    I'm so glad Dave is here - I really dug him and am shopping for Statue of Liberty cufflinks for his suit.

    Now you and Alex need to stop making me cry.


  4. Wow Eden. Like Alex, I believe the universe works in mysterious ways. There are too many things that can't be chalked up to coincidence.

    Lives intersect for a reason. We don't always know why at the time, but in time....those reasons become clear.

    Just wow.

  5. Oh, Eden. That is just amazing! Stories like that give me the shivers - the connections and the common ground, but even more: the meaning. Wow.

    Fuck, I love this: "Life is so majestic and so stupid. There's no point on waiting for the next thing to happen - you have to make it happen. You can never "find yourself" ..... you gotta create yourself!"

    I'm going to write that out and put it on my fridge - I really need that in my life right now.


  6. I had to run out to my car to get my sunglasses just so I had glasses to take off when I started crying.
    Life is so fucking mysterious. But stories like this make it so amazing.

  7. now you made me cry at work, bitch.

    seriously though, wow.

  8. You made me cry too. Isn't life miraculous. I have a very very personal blog post going up tomorrow that I really really want you to read. I think it might explain a little about OUR bond, our coincidence. Let me know what you was very tough to write!

  9. Gd instances? I love that. And you, obviously.

  10. argh that's twice now I can't get through this post without choking on tears. can I blame it on being 8 months pregnant, puffy and hormonal? or can I just say that what I read from you usually overwhelms my own awareness that there are no coincidences? congratulations Eden, your writing is reaching many across our tiny planet. all the best to you and yours.

  11. Geez Louise I'm in bits now. What a story that you all can treasure.

  12. I'm going to be walking in the light the night here in SF, will be thinking of Dave, E, and my friend Renu and Aunt Geraldine, both fighting it. I'm working on lymphoma now at work, too. Its a tough one, but there will be breakthroughs, I'm, convinced of it.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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