One year ago today I got the call that changed my life forever. The Friday before Christmas. Last year it was Solstice.
“I’m sorry to tell you that you have cancer.”
“You WILL survive this.”
“Ok…. Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
My boss was on my left and my favorite co-worker (now gone) on my right, keeping me in the light as I wrapped up that phone call.
It was months before I could really cry. I was so busy researching, running to doctors, getting cut and wounded in a major way, starting chemo, shaving my head, puking and wanting to puke for 7 months that the crying didn’t really start until I sprained my ankle. Which probably was a good thing because it STOPPED me in my tracks, that sprained ankle, and forced me not to recover too fast. To take things slowly, to ease back into my life.
I’m only now realizing what an ass kicking I’ve taken this year and not just from cancer. Many loved ones died this year, the move, I cry every time I drive by my old street and know that my mom and dad don’t live there any more. Nothing looks the same except work and I’m grateful for that one little bit of normalcy. So much loss, so many heavy hits.
This photo was taken 3 weeks after surgery when visiting work. I had just colored my hair fresh and was putting on a happy face. So many people have told me this past year that I’m always pleasant, kind, smiling. Which kind of blows me away because I’ve also felt cranky and pissed off and very snarly. Clearly my relative thinks I’m only ever angry. But it’s just not true. Most of the time my outlook is positive. But it’s also a mask. A mask I wear to fool you and to fool me. Because if I admitted how sad I am I don’t know what I’d do sometimes.
Here I am today, almost a year later. Still going to the hospital. Still sitting around for hours while they try once again to access my FUCKING port. I’m going to be here much longer today than I thought and I’m at least grateful the snow has melted. My nose is red, I’ve been crying while I talk to the counselor (she took this photo). I hate showing this photo, I hate looking sick. But she was right, I need to keep this in my mind when I push too hard. I had to cancel my personal trainer session. Again. Because I don’t know when I’ll be out of here. Ugh. I’m rethinking this gym thing. I don’t think I’m ready, for the work or the energy of the place. I think I’d rather take medium sized walks, slow walks, look around me, have some quiet. Maybe with a friend. I might just eat the sessions I bought because the pressure to use them is so unwelcome and so exhausting. Pressure, even the tiniest bit, is too much unless, like with surgery or chemo or moving, you just HAVE to JUMP.
I am reaching out a bit more. I’m trying to let the people who drain me slowly go, quietly unfriending some, just staying quiet. Not at work. That’s crazy noisy and not a little fun but it’s very draining and yesterday I hit that cursed wall. Mind confusion really fucked me up. My brain can only hold so much. An hour is about all I can do so even if we’re having fun and it stretches into 4 or 5 hours, I’m ruined for the week. It’s no one’s fault, I did enjoy the time. I’m just really facing reality about my new normal. I’ve made promises in the joy of the moment that I am not going to be able to keep. Great. That’s just GREAT. Forgive me. I’m sorry. I love you. Thank you.
I am reaching out so don’t worry, I’m not completely hiding. I’m also reaching out to folks I don’t know too well but whose quiet nature draws me because it feels so easy, so light, so familiar in a long lost way. They add to my spoons.
I feel like this post is a bit scattered and all over the place but that’s my brain right now. My brain on drugs. Drugs you’d never want to take because they fry the shit out you.
I resolve to be kind to myself in 2014 and to learn to say NO NO NO when I got nothing to give. And YES YES YES to the things that soothe my soul. 2014, like 2013, is going to also be all about me and cancer but on the healing side of it. I’m looking for quiet moments, shared quiet moments. Lazy at home wood burning creating sleeping reading movie watching cooking sharing peace. We had snow last night and I always hear the earth sigh through the quiet before the melt. The sigh of contentment. I’m content to slowly parse my new life, to just let it BE. Let it be, seeking words of wisdom, let it be.
I love you so much, all of you. I wish you peace and joy and love and abundant good things. May 2014 be a banner year for us all.