The dawn began for me at 4:00 this morning. That was no great surprise since my day ended yesterday at 7 pm! I guess this last batch of chemo is having an accumulative impact on my hemoglobin. Thank God I do not have to work! I really don’t know how I would have the energy.
It was dark. It was cold. These days I spend my time alternating between hot flashes (either due to chemo or cancer) where I sweat like crazy and crazy cold flashes when I need a heating pad to get warm. I did NOT feel like walking this morning. I just could not see myself getting out of a cold house and going into an even colder, black outdoors.
“One moment at a time – one day at a time, Stacey” I remembered hearing from someone (cuz I sure don’t remember details these days) earlier this week.
When I was young, one of my favorite stories that my Mom used to read to me was, “The Little Engine that Could”. The story fascinated me – I ‘m not sure if it was more because of the colourful pictures, or my Mom’s expressions. Nonetheless, I loved listening to it. And Mom always made sure that the message was received. She would remind me of the little engine that could when I ran into trouble with school, or with friends, or with cleaning dishes even! “Remember, Stacey, to think positively. Remember the little engine that said, “I think I can, I think I can”. You just have to keep going and you will get yourself over that problem. ” Funny how important that little childhood message of hope, faith, and determination has stuck with me all these years and is helping me even now. Although Mom may not be with me physically, she sure is mentally as I remember her words of encouragement so clearly.
Still, in the dark and the cold of the morning, the mind-games had begun.
“Okay”, I said to myself. “I think I can, I think I can. Even if I just get dressed and out the door, that’s good enough.”
I got up, threw on my housecoat and felt my way down the stairs being careful to not trip over the dog, Jazz, who chooses to lay right at the foot of the stairs so that she will in no way miss her morning walk.
Kevin greeted me with my coffee and I prepared him at once for the chance that I may be taking the morning off.
“No you are not”, he stated.
(Crap) I had forgotten that the day before I told him to not let me escape the walk. Even if I go down the street and home, that would be fine.
“We leave in five minutes.”
(Crap, crap, crap)
“Okay. But I don’t know how far I can go.”
“Five minutes, Stacey”, Kevin replied. With that, he left to get ready.
I snuggled my hands around my warm coffee (milked down to protect my stomach) in an attempt to appease my poor, cold bones. One, two, three – up I got. One foot, then the other, then the other. It was that contrived and purposeful. Damn it. I did not want to miss out on the walk but it was so cold!
Snow pants from David, winter boots from Katya, a scarf, my down coat, sweater… and out into the wild black yonder we went.
There was a slight breeze which felt like a frozen monsoon at first against my face. Oh, it was cold on my head. Doubt filled me. “Can I do it? Will I make it all the way home? Should I go to the corner? One foot, then the other. Will I freeze to death? Can I make it? One foot, then the other. (Crap) I am having a hot flash – at least that warms me up. (Crap) No I am sweating – that’ll cool me down. One foot, then the other. Just keep swimming, Stacey.”
Shortly, we turned the corner into the wetland. It was dark – but it was beautiful. The morning was calm here. In the woods there is no traffic, there is no light, there is no noise. It is just us and God. I was filled with relief. I was filled with hope. I was filled with a sense of blessing. Look at me – Chemo on Wednesday and walking still each day afterwards. The cold melted away. Kevin and I began our morning “list of to-do’s and concerns”.
The Tiffin Traffic was not too bad. Away we went. Full steam ahead. I felt great.
Ten minutes later I was grasping for Kevin’s arm. I hit a wall. Stop. Breath. I was light-headed. (Crap) “Can I make it? Should we have brought a sled? Can I just sit here and wait until someone gets me?” I was TIRED.
I took Kevin’s arm. He waited. I waited. The dog waited. “Let’s go”, I announced. One foot, then the other. My legs felt like lead. “Push on, Stacey”, I pushed.
And that is how it went for the remainder of the walk – one foot, then the other.
Finally, we rounded the corner to the last stretch home. We did it! Damn if I will give up! If I gave up now, then where would I be tomorrow? One foot, then the other got us home.
I remembered how the story of the Little Engine ended, “I thought I could, I thought I could.” With those words, my Mom would smile, close the book and look at me.
“You see, Stacey”, she would conclude. “You can do anything you set your mind to!”
Back then, I had no idea this story would be helping me in the battle of my life. Thank goodness I had paid attention.
The dawn may have begun for me at 4:00 this morning, but the real dawn didn’t begin until I arrived home with both feet planted on the front porch: I am blessed to have Kevin who has been with me in sickness and in health, I am blessed to feel as well as I do through my chemo treatments, and I am blessed to have an education that has taught me to take one step at a time and to just keep swimming!
Now if I can only remember this tomorrow morning when it is cold and dark and the little engine needs to start the climb all over again!
Check out the story of the Little Engine that Could for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EhpqcXoxGI