Cancer Saved My Life

My Given name is Judy. My maiden name is Rozzelle. After three divorces, I have returned to my maiden name. It is a legal act that I had also committed following my second marriage to “he who will not be mentioned,” I legally changed my last name back to Coffin because it matched my children’s last name. Yes, this did upset the current Mrs. Coffin. However, I was Ms. Coffin.
My third marriage was an attempt at foreign relations. I married a Greek and you know how impossible it is to spell a Greek last name. Need I say more as to my choice to return to my maiden name, Rozzelle?
I returned to Shuffletown and the red-clay soil where my ancestral roots run eight generations deep. Like many of life’s travelers, my journey completed a circle. My linear journey had led me home where life began. Where I would began, again. It seemed very natural to return to my first, my maiden name. Oh, but there was so much more.
I became celibate for thirteen years which included the last six-months of my marriage. While heavily medicated with lithium, I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from a reputable university within the allotted time. I had switched psychiatrists and the new doctor prescribed a drug that was a derivative of Thorazine. Plus, my psychiatrist suffered from narcolepsy. But I did not have insurance and he would accept me as a patient. Maybe we both slept through the sessions? Eventually, though I became addicted and my movements, even walking became a slow plodding.
I have proof of this. I keep a prescription bottle with one pill in an easily accessible drawer and I check on it, often. I do not want to forget. This is my personal miracle. I cannot give it away. I can try to share it. But, even, as I recall these times, as I write about them, I feel so sorry for the “me” I recall. Depression is like hiding in a maze.
That is what brought me to the moment, the moment I began to turn back into life away from depression and addiction. It was quite a ride until I crashed and realized that I was the only one responsible for the choices that brought me to this day.
I was sleepy all day no matter how many hours I had slept the night before. I am telling you this in order for you to understand that when people speak of me…they would not be referring to my good judgment. More probably, they are referring to my lack of common sense and my most recent hi-jinks. I earned it all, I have to say.
The wisdom of hindsight shows me that cancer saved my life and all my wrong choices turned out to be tragic miracles. I did waste a lot of time. That is my regret, but my greatest regret is all those many years of depression when I did not believe in myself.
I truly was embarrassed to be me. All that wasted time and shenanigans when if I had believed in me then, I would have been a better person for a longer time, but what would I have missed in my lifetime? What would I give up or change? Nothing and no one.
Legally, I became a Rozzelle, once more, in the month of December 1990. At the time, I was one of the original “mature” students who returned to college. I was fifty-five and thrice-divorced.
My father was lingering in a rest-home. I shared the home in Shuffletown with my eighteen year-old nephew who departed and returned through his second floor bedroom window. My beloved first cousin was dying of ovarian cancer; no one was fond of me at the time. I was most recently employed as a manual laborer in a wholesale flower-factory. At the moment, I read the notice that my name had been legally changed to Rozzelle standing in the hall of the University’s Drama Department.
Cancer saved my life. That is the only explanation I have for how I survived a six-year depression that included massive drug abuse and emotional ruins.
I am reprinting this today because twenty years later, I am still here and drug free. I am blessed.
Mama Roz

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