This coming Wednesday will be the non-official date when I received the full enchilada of my cancer diagnosis. The “real” date was the 10th, but to me, it was the second week of school that counts more. It is the context of the events that resonates with me more than anything else. And that context was – the second week of classes.
I had told my class on the Tuesday that I had an appointment in the morning. I wasn’t worried. “I’ll be back, but I’ll be late,” I advised them. And then I think I invited one of my students to the front to lead my grade 12 English class in a warm up which consisted of some lively Cuban music and an abbreviated zumba lesson. There were some students who were thrilled to receive this lesson, while others were, well, not so thrilled. Nonetheless, it was a fun way to begin a morning of reading and writing.
“Stacey, you fought hard and you did so well,” my friend Cathy told me over dinner last night.
“I didn’t work as hard as everyone else did. It was the doctors, the nurses, my family and friends who were the ones who worked hard. I just sat there and did what I could.” I added.
“But you didn’t give up. You did everything you should have done,” my other friend Anne added.
“True. But it is still easier to be the patient – it is more difficult to watch everyone around me suffer.”
And that was the truth. When I thought about myself and what I needed to do – it was a clear cut path. Yes – I was sad, scared, and angry at the same time. But it was when I thought of my husband, children, and my friends that I felt true agony. It was the thought that they would be left without me – grieving – that upset me the most. What would my children do without a Mom? That broke me. I could not even think about going to Gilda’s Club as I would see families who were on the other side of the loss — and I didn’t want to see what that looked like.
Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there is a slight cool, crispness in the breeze. The kingfisher is chirping away as he scouts out his territory over the pond behind the house. The green of the leaves is hinting at ceding to the brilliant reds and oranges buried beneath. I feel well. I will go for a walk, perhaps a bike ride, and maybe even do some grocery shopping today.
Oh, how things have changed in one year. I had a difficult time teaching as I was in so much pain. I thought it was gall bladder. I couldn’t sneeze or yawn without being rudely halted because of the pain those functions produced. I couldn’t sleep as my liver hurt too much – I was full of cancer.
Hard to believe.
Such miracles have happened to me. I didn’t think I’d see this day. Yet, here I am. Thanks to my community of supporters I am alive and well. My eyes are wide open and I’m hesitant to close them lest I miss something. Life is palpable. I still have fear – but there is less fear. I still have pain – but the pain is more of “growing pains”. I still have grief – but it is manageable. I am alive and I am still a thorn in the side of those who stand on the other side of my political spectrum! Grin.
I am reminded by these posts, of the journey my family and friends and I have been on. Perhaps the word “journey” is not the word I will ultimately choose? Maybe roller-coaster, night-mare, or …something else would be more appropriate? I have been somewhere I never thought I would have been – nor returned from. I have had my horizons stretched to see beyond my limits. I have escaped death – for now – and learned lessons that could not be taught in the classroom.
My vocabulary of life has expanded and the language I now speak transcends physical representations.
Today is a glorious day and I’m off to embrace it!