I find myself with January – and 2013 – approaching with excitement, appreciation, and sure, some apprehension. I mean, last time this year our family was packing away Christmas to move to Dubai as we sent Davis halfway around the globe. I was getting the dog microchipped, faxing reams of applications to International Schools, networking for a live-in Indonesian nanny, and starting to build an expat community. My resolutions were to embrace life and take chances. To not be scared, to give myself to my children and create memories and opportunities for their joy. And, to love and support my husband in his new life.
My what a long strange trip it’s been.
Many would argue that our year was awful – devoid of redemption. I mean what good could possibly come out of a year consumed with cancer? I will admit it was not the path we had chosen, but it’s been a helluva ride and there are many reasons why the year didn’t totally suck. In no particular order (because even though I’ve been thinking of these over the past few weeks I don’t have the capability to really do much beyond stream of consciousness – ha!):
- I lived out every Mom’s fantasy of sitting on the sofa, catching up on Downton Abbey and eating chocolates sent to me by friends.
- I tried my hand at doing almost nothing – turns out it’s not a great fit for me. So I wrote a children’s book, started a Duke alumni club, created an art bra, became a published author, and found a topic fo the book that I’ve always wanted to write.
- I discovered the good in people – the amazing capacity of people to help and build community in times of crisis. I learned to experience the human spirit in ways I never thought possible – and yes, your 194 cards were part of that beautiful and monstrous effort. My well wall fell down. Literally.
- I realized how amazing my husband is – that support I had planned to give him was returned a hundredfold as he took the reins of family control, family CEO, shrink, Mom and Dad. He was – and is – amazing.
- I grew to a first name basis with my insurance company and reached my out of pocket maximum. I’ve still got two days – fingers crossed!
- I got to be with my kids a lot. And, they learned that sometimes Mom needs a nap.
- Duke went to a bowl game. In football. They didn’t win, but getting there was half the battle. I figure this alone would be worth a mention although I will also be obnoxious and say that my children are running around telling everyone that Duke is number one in basketball and I like it.
- I got to do some stuff with Duke and as a parent of three children I have to say that being on their radar isn’t all that bad.
- I took a lot of naps – like every day for the last year.
- I learned what my scalp looked like under my hair. As a friend once said – didn’t you always wonder? No, but now I know. And, I also got to see what I would look like with a pixie cut. And I got to shave my head although it wasn’t at all like that empowering GI Jane scene.
- I got to hear my kids say “Mom you have less hair than Daddy!” and “Mom you have more hair than Daddy!” all in the same year.
- I learned that when you lose your hair in chemo it’s not from the parts you want.
- I became part of an amazing sisterhood and now fully embrace the color pink as part of my color wheel.
- I gained 20 pounds and ate a lot of french toast.
- I got to see what my body is capable of in terms of healing – and it’s pretty freaking awesome.
- I learned about hormones and all the wonderful things that they have control over in your body – like temperature regulation, mood, sleeping ability, weight gain, nail growth and more! I am totally psyched about menopause!
- I’m not vain about my appearance. Not that I really ever was, and yes, I do wear makeup and earrings now (especially dangly ones) But there are some bits here and there that aren’t what they used to be and hey, that’s OK. I mean, I’m also missing bits that should be there so I figure it all sorts out.
- I get to have perky Barbie boobs – OF MY OWN CHOOSING! – for the rest of my life courtesy of insurance. Those of you without having nursed three children may not realize the importance of this. But, even my Nordstrom ladies are making me quite happy and buxom. And yes, picking out a size is both weird and exhilarating.
- I’m a little less inclined to sweat the small stuff – or even the semi small stuff. The Christmas cards were wonky, the presents looked like they were wrapped like five year olds – even the ones I wrapped – and NO ONE CARED! It turns out that a lot of the stuff you thought was important just isn’t. And that’s a zen lesson I plan to take with me.
- Don’t tell Davis but I find myself living a bit more in the moment than before. We have always been planners of the maximum variety and I think the edge has been dulled. Let’s go on that trip we put off (yes, I get to go to New York to see Christmas light with JUST DAVIS next year as a present – woot!) If the house isn’t perfect for the party, who really cares?
- Our MBA training turned out to be a great thing because we had a rainy day fund. And we have used it. Now I’m ready to get back to work.
- I have a blog. And I like it.
So there you have it. My reasons that this whole experience didn’t suck, and in fact, was a great part of our journey. I didn’t know if I could make it, and how it would impact our family, but truth be told, we survived and are thriving. Thanks to all of you for your love and support. To those of you facing the journey, keep your chin up. Have your days under the covers. Surround yourself with people who understand and insulate yourself from people who don’t. And, for goodness sake, stop weighing yourself and eat that last cookie.
What’s the worst that could happen?