Today marked the last day of the year. One year of time that has been spent on an incredible journey of self-reflection. One year since Sarah, The Carcinista, died.
In many ways, this year has been amazing. Our boys and I have learned some wonderful life skills. Not just for coping with the hard things, but for really building a good life in a new way. Many things have remained the same by design. But we have also set out to create a life that works for the three of us. A life that (I believe) Sarah would be pleased with, and proud of.
We all have come to a place of peace about where she is, and how she is still in our lives. That took time, but maybe less time for us than it could have taken. Sarah gave us all permission to come to peace, and to be able to move forward in a good way. We are embracing that as a family.
May 3, 2012 is not a sad day. At least not any more sad than any other day this week or next week or last week. We’ve come to cherish our memories of Sarah and how we were a family. We talk about Sarah at the dinner table, while driving to school, at bed time. Really, whenever it feels right. I often say to the boys how proud Sarah would be to see them with all they have accomplished. They like that. And, of course, I tell them how proud I am of them as well.
I asked the boys if they would like to have a special dinner to remember Mommy on the anniversary of her death. They both smiled, and at the exact same time blurted out, “We want ice cream for dinner!” So, we’re having ice cream. Super Mom is joining us as well. We’ll be spending some special time thinking about Sarah and talking about our wonderful memories. We’ll light some candles in her honor. And, as usual, finish the evening reading some books before the kids go to sleep.
So, if you feel like having a little time to remember our hero. Maybe you, too can eat some ice cream. Light a candle. And settle in to a good book.
Cancer giveth, and cancer taketh away. The giving part is another post for another day. Today, we gripe.
Actually, it’s sort of a meta-gripe. I had a lousy day earlier this week, I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing that really cheesed me the most was this overarching feeling I had that I ought to just stop grousing and be thankful that I had a life to live. And that made me madder.
Not only has cancer taken away the innocence of my assumption that I’ll live to be a hundred like my grandmother, that I’ll be around to annoy and embarrass my teenage sons, that I’ll get a chance to spend some of the (admittedly smaller than previously) IRA my tax refund funnels into every spring, among other countless losses. Now I can’t even have a lousy day, sink into a funk, eat too much chocolate and ignore my vacuuming without feeling guilty? I have to be so THANKful that I’ve surVIVEd long enough to be having this day at all? That just sucks.
Wow, someone needs a nap.
If’ you’d asked me in 2006 whether I’d turn 38, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “yes”. If you’d asked me in 2007 whether I’d turn 38, I would have hesitated.
When I was first diagnosed, I was so certain that my cancer was a one-time thing, a fluke, something to be excised, poisoned, and recovered from. Dust my hands off, grow my hair back, return to my regularly scheduled life. But once the first recurrence showed up and we scheduled my scary surgery for October, I was convinced I’d be gone by that Christmas. Started mentally divvying up my couture, regretting that I’d never get to embarrass my boys at their rehearsal dinners, wondering who would let the lonely cat sleep in their bed. So when that round was over, I was totally flummoxed. And we all know how much I loooove uncertainty. How long do I have?
No one on my medical team is willing to even take a stab in the dark at a prognosis. They all say we have lots of tools in my treatment arsenal, and plenty more coming down the pike. (Have I mentioned yet how much I adore being treated at D-F?) Since my lungs are now showing signs of (tiny, glacially-progressing) tumors, I’m starting to get an inkling of the way it’s going to go in a long-term sense. But how long?
These days, when someone’s diagnosed with Stage IIIc like I was, they have a 45% chance of living longer than five years. And with each recurrence, your percentage drops. So I have to admit that while I have never exactly been morbid, I am trying to be realistic. I certainly stopped worrying about the health of my IRA. (See? A little gallows humor never hurt anyone.)
Anyway, here I am at 38. In another 18 months, I’ll be one of the 45%. Since statistics-busting has been my m.o. from the start, I’m happy to keep the trend going. And maybe if I keep kicking ass I’ll come to really regret my adolescent sun-worshipping habits in my fifties and sixties.