I recently had two friends over for breakfast. Nothing fancy, just your normal eggs, toast and tomato with a simple fruit salad, beautiful chai tea, and Edith Piaf playing on the computer. One of my guests looked up and said, “It’s always such a cultural experience being with you Allison.” the other quickly followed with “Yeah, it’s like going to Camp Allison….like an explosion of life.” I loved this! I love that this is how my friends perceive me from the outside looking in. It almost makes up for the fact that from the inside looking out, I feel a little crazy, like the Tasmanian devil spinning in circles around myself in an attempt to do all that I can. Constantly running on this fear that I might miss an opportunity, or an experience, something life changing and astounding might happen while I am not looking.

I am insatiable. Greedy, in a way. I live with voracity and intensity . . . voracitensity. If I were a color it would be florescent. I am working on subtlety, but it is not yet my strong suit. I live in big, bold, brush strokes.

 

In the days that followed that brunch, I started to think about where this desire comes from. I mean, why am I so hyper aware of the fact that every moment counts for something?

 

Then I remembered my mom.

 

When I was six years old my mom was diagnosed with cancer. For a year she went through hell. Chemo chemicals and radiation coursed through her veins as she fought for survival with every fiber of her being. The chemicals killed the cancer, along with most of her physical strength. In the first months there was a general air of fear and unease. No one took the time to explain to my brother and I what was going on. One day my mom was gone and then she didn’t come home again for a week. No one said anything about chemo, or what it would do to her. I can’t recall what was said.  I just remember she was gone.

 

More treatments. Months passed. And one memory I have forever burned in my brain.

 

It was the middle of the afternoon, I can’t remember why, but I found myself alone in the house. I wanted my mom. I wanted to crawl into her bed and feel her warm back on my cold nose. I wanted to feel better. My parents’ room was always filled with light. Light and fresh air. My mom and dad could not stand stale air, so no matter how chilly it was outside we had our windows open. No heavy drapes in our house just natural light pouring through a delicate sheet of tightly woven lace dancing in and out of the window frames.

 

I had woken up in a sweat due to a nasty dream I was having. The cool air on my moist pajamas was giving me chills. I pulled my damp body out of my twin bed and raced down the hall to her. Flinging her door open, I assumed my mom’s room would be as it always was, drenched with light and fresh air; all I wanted was a breath of fresh air. But what I found was the opposite: drapes replaced the curtains and the windows were closed, locked. I could barely see the bed, but was able to make out a lump I assumed was her body. The lime green plastic mixing bowl my family reserved for throw up was next to her bed and as I walked closer I could hear her wheezing. Her breathing was brutal, it sounded almost impossible. The room smelled like old vitamins and throw up. I turned around, walked outside, and shut the door.

 

The war she was fighting was tortuous. This had become painfully clear. I still didn’t understand what this “cancer” thing was, or why my poor mom was the one having to battle through it, but I knew there was nothing my little hands could do to take away the pain she felt. All I could do was watch and wait.

 

In the days that followed I saw her turn to an ash gray color and lose all the weight that used to pad her body. They were killing her. It was killing her. Something was killing her.

 

But then, she got better. With the same quiet potency the cancer had used in its approach, my feisty, tender, sweet mom began to crawl her way back to us.

Amazing. They could rob her of her hair, her curves, and the rose in her cheeks. They could cripple the body that had carried two children, played tennis in the sunshine, and even, for a time, quiet her laughter.  But her love for life was beyond anything they could touch. It was invincible. My mother became a warrior for love. She took the challenge head on and came out with a powerful heart and mind. Her tenacity earned her a place in the world that would not be taken away. She survived.

 

Her unwavering determination became my example. I didn’t know what to do or where to go, but she remained strong. She continued to wear her Este Lauder “Pleasures” perfume and her soft sweaters. She kept life as normal as possible while her white blood cells fought to outrun the poison flushing through her veins.

 

It isn’t until you see the end of something that you understand its true essence. The value of all things becomes apparent when it seems as though it will run out. I had the painful privilege of witnessing my mom dangle her toes over the edge of her life, and luckily she survived. So many don’t, so many strong, brave, powerful people don’t get the chance to take this lesson into the next chapter of life, which makes it all the more important that I do. I’m inspired by those who fight and win, and live with deep gratitude and respect for those who fight and lose. We can take nothing for granted.

 

My mom set the example for passion and determination. Through her battle with cancer, she taught me what it is to love life. From extreme violence came ultimate beauty. She still reads a quote from Anne Frank that I keep in my pocket for days when I feel like the best decision would be to hide away.

 

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

 

I took her advice to heart and made a vow to fill my life with all I could. At six, I was determined and I still am. I always hit the ground running.

 

To a fault, I’ll admit. I saturate myself in what I love and I would rather have too much motivation than none at all. I struggle to ground myself in one place for more than a few days and sometimes I plan so many activities that I am racing just to get to the next appointment rather than enjoying the reason they were scheduled in the first place.

 

There is a balance to strike, my four-year-old nephew is teaching me that. Last summer he came for a visit and I got to have him to myself for one day.  I made a plan. I packed our day full of outings and ideas. But as quickly as I made the plans, my nephew changed them. His spontaneity and fascination with the world around brought my plans to a screeching halt. We ended up staying in a one block radius around my apartment. No big outings, just a simple afternoon in Brooklyn.

 

As we headed home, skipping the cracks in the sidewalk and talking about Luke Skywalker, my nephew looked up at me and proclaimed, “This is the best part of my day ever.” The part with no agenda, no activities, just walking and talking. Amazing.

 

I needed a child’s perspective to remind me of the immature confusion that led me here to begin with. Valuing existence doesn’t mean over booking. It doesn’t mean more stuff, more content.  It just means more me, more attention to the moments making up my life.

 

Thanks to my Ma. Thanks to my nephew. To the warrior heart and the Buddha soul.  My greatest teachers.

 

xo

a

Add yours Comments – 71

  • David

    on January 29, 2012 at 12:31 am

    T be able to recognize such lessons is profound… To teach those lessons is enlightenment… Bufu Ikkan

  • Alexandre Magno Ribeiro

    on March 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

    the most beautiful smile movie. You’re great actress. I’m your fan since the beginning of the series

  • Ndbennett

    on April 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    So addictive!

  • The Wandering Mind

    on May 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    It’s the simple things.

  • beuns, french

    on May 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    The trials of life help us grow, mature, and make us aware of what is truly important in life. The sound of slaps that allows us to moved forward, they have the wisdom to build us feel enrichire.

    I guess the last 10 years playing the role of Chloe in the Smallville series, allowed you to travel extensively across the world, and you have allowed many of you enrichire meeting, see that despite the success you still remains simple and you enrichire from this experience and you opened our eyes to the world.

    I understand you want to live every moment of life as intensely as possible, it is a noble sentiment, but the greatest lessons of life are often times the simplest for which we have taken the time to ask for this food, do not give you too big lens, you could drown and you lose most, the best moments in its most simple what we take time to pay attention

    Thank you for sharing this moment of your life

    Sorry for writing these few lines, my English is very bad so I used software to translated this one.

  • Viktoria

    on June 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    You are a gifted writer, your words not only touch the mind, but also the soul. 😉

  • DANIEL ARTHUR BROCK

    on June 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

    hello allison, this is brock.you are a Warrior.one of a very ancient station.which is why you are so hyper aware of why every moment counts.your more hyper aware of even more than you now realize.those things you seek to know about yourself in regard to this you will pull from the stars in the night time sky.you are a warrior and shall soon reach your fullest potential when the dampeners are lifted off the rest of the rest of the way off of your mind and you see who you were in the past.there is nothing new under the sun. what has been before will be again. BROCK/

  • BUSYMISSLIZZIE

    on October 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

    One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
    Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
    In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
    Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
    Other times there were one set of footprints.
    This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
    When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
    I could see only one set of footprints.
    So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord,
    That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
    But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
    There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
    Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?”
    The Lord replied,
    “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
    Is when I carried you.”

  • Brin

    on December 31, 2013 at 7:03 am

    This was so touching! Makes you realize how important family is and don’t waste a moment to be with them. I really like how u are such a down to earth lady Miss Allison:-) love that about u. Wish more actors were like u.

    • James H Hall

      on December 31, 2013 at 7:34 am

      I certainly agree with this comment, that’s how come I will remain a fan for life.

  • James H Hall

    on December 31, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Even through the Dark, I recognized the steps, the radiance at the top attracted me. Slowly I climbed, clutching the rail, as the fear did to my heart so yearningly. “Who are you?” I asked. The figure was silent and still. I could feel the Awe gripping my Soul, nevertheless, I continued! “Who are you?” I asked once again. The figure turned around, features revealing Mysticalness! To my knees I fell, tears of gory in my eyes, but underneath me was no grass! For the Darkness was uncloaked, but as far as I could see; was only asphalt and broken glass!

  • Ksenia Shomnikova

    on December 31, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Truly, it IS your best piece of writing so far. Thanks for all the words and your incredible mind and the warm open heart. Thanks for being a role model for me for over 10 years now, dear Allison. Happy New Year! Bless you, darling human :))))

    • 3tesla

      on December 31, 2013 at 8:38 am

      > Thanks for all the words and your incredible mind and the warm open heart.

      Well-said!

  • mike

    on December 31, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Wow…Thank you for sharing that part of you. For me, it was my grandfather that gave me inspiration of life itself. There is not a day that goes by I don’t have him in my thoughts.

  • Maria

    on December 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    what a beautiful piece of writing – I can feel your joy for life coming through!

  • Saide Hernández

    on February 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you Allison. I needed to hear this.

  • J. Brundige

    on July 21, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Your mom is a Fierce Buddha.