There are as many times today that I think about cancer as I did this time last year when I actually had cancer, although, our conversations do not include the word. In fact, if one were to be a fly on the wall, one would not hear the word “cancer” often at all. It would seem out of context. It would seem cancer never visited this house.
How is that even possible?
I have free time this morning to think. I am taking time to reflect. I am trying to get my thoughts recorded so they don’t just slip away. It seems, lately, that time and events have simply slipped away. I get angry with myself for not having savored every moment. Life needs to slow down. I am afraid that it is speeding ahead too quickly. I am needing to focus again on “living”, really living. The slip-stream of activity has sucked me away from decadence of simply being.
So many things have happened over the past few weeks. One of the high-lights was my husband’s 50th birthday yesterday. I enjoyed so much seeing him so happy. It was a simple celebration as per his request. He opened a gift in the morning from his sister. It was a copy of Life magazine from January 7, 1966. On the cover was Roger Moore in a scuba diving outfit – appropriate since my husband is also a diver and more recently was promoted to “Dive Master”. He was thrilled with the gift. It was indeed a thoughtful gift. There had been a lot of thought put into this gift and that thought was clearly very much appreciated.
That evening, after we had celebrated with a dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, and baked beans (Kevin’s request), we gathered around and chatted. There were jokes thrown around about Kevin’s age. We laughed. There were memories shared about how his sisters used to dress him up, when he was little, like their dolly. We laughed. We rejoiced in things we appreciated most about Kevin. We applauded. We congratulated his mom on the anniversary of her youngest boy’s birth. We marveled. How time flies. How we chatted about that too.
The thing I remember most, however, about that birthday celebration was when I realized how lucky I am to have been accepted into the inner circles of another family. Kevin’s family – his mother and his sister – had become my family too. We will have been married for 25 years this coming summer and so I have known this family for a very long time. Yet – last night it just dawned on me that I had made that transition. It had happened so slowly and subtly that I had not remarked on it at all. It was Kevin’s sister who had made my transition clear to me.
“What I appreciate about my brother”, she began, “is that he, and his wife Stacey, have taken such good care of Mom. I could not have done what I did over the past year and a half if I had thought Mom would be by herself.” She continued, “It couldn’t have been easy going through everything you did last year. And then, on top of that you had another person in the house who also needed looking after. But, you did it without hesitation and you did it without a word of complaint.”
Yes. We did. And. We would do it all over again.
She is my Mom now too.
Kevin’s sister may have given Kevin a thoughtful gift in the morning – one that had been pre-planned and ordered and wrapped. She gave us both an even bigger gift in the evening through her words of acknowledgment and inclusion. I had always envied families that were close. I had always wanted to be a part of a family who carried such rich histories of one another. Since my own parents passed away, there are very few memory keepers for me at my disposal. I enjoyed so much being a part, once again, of a family who could recount their childhood memories and share them with me. What a wonderful thing it is to have family history at your disposal. What a gift it was – to be a part of that joyous occasion – being a part of family.
Last night, there were far fewer times that I thought about cancer as I felt surrounded by family and friends who loved and supported one another. Last night was a gift to both Kevin, as it was his birthday, but also to me.