The day began much the same way as the previous day had ended; Amy was snuggled in her faux-fur blanket in her uber-warm bed. She liked to be there to “recover” from life’s events whether the event was a walk, a talk, or even a grocery shop. Everything she did seemed to need some recovery time these days. She guess that was the new norm and that would be just fine – as long as she had a bed and her faux-fur blanket to snuggle into.
It was hard to imagine that only one week ago she was waking up after a long 16 hour drive from where the family had vacationed in Myrtle Beach. Come to think of it – it wasn’t so difficult as the temperature on this morning was similar to the temperatures in Myrtle Beach, maybe warmer. It wasn’t always that cold down south, in fact, it had always been warmer. Amy and her family spend countless hours on the beach, building sandcastles, playing frisbee – Amy was never particularly good at frisbee but she didn’t like to miss out on things so she played. Amy made it a habit of being involved, in some way, shape or form, in everything that the Myrtle Beach crew did. And that become more important than ever this past trip down south.
Amy was in a chemically-induced remission. She was going to be damned sure that that fucking disease wasn’t going to stop her from being involved with life – well – at least from sampling the goods that life had to offer. It had already robbed her of so much: her job, her physical fitness, her mind. Fucking disease.
On the other hand, she was thankful for some of the gifts that cancer had given to her: time to spend at home with her children, the patience to listen, and freedom from the stress of work. She had had a demanding job. She had loved teaching and she was good at it. To do a good job, however, she needed to dedicate her energy to her students. That didn’t leave much to offer to her family when she got home. Amy found it difficult to find that life- work balance. No matter what, she felt that she was always robbing Peter to pay Paul. At the end of the day the one who was robbed more than anyone, in terms of her emotional and physical health, was Amy. So, while cancer took a lot from her, she was able to see a silver lining.
Amy liked to see the silver linings. She knew she had a right to be anger, to be sad, to be afraid. Afterall, she had been through a lot trying to recover from a stage 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis. So had her family and her friends. She was always so very thankful for the support that her community of family and friends had shown her during her three rounds of chemo and, mostly, her stints of recovery. She had received three beautiful quilts – each had been made thoughtfully, carefully, stitch by stitch. It seemed to Amy that that was a good way to live life – stitch by stitch, second by second. Truthfully, there were some good days – the good days strung in a row – when she forgot this mantra and simply lived. She would panic when she realized that she had forgotten to count the stitches – almost like life had slipped through the needle, leaving no trace of a pattern. And these days, she needed to remember. Her memory sucked!
The Canada Geese honked outside her window. They did that every year. The first year of her chemo treatment, she wondered if she would ever hear the geese again. She noted their presence. She noted the first buds to swell on the trees. She noted the first robin to sing. This year, these notables seemed to be, well, less notable. She appreciated them – but for some reason, she felt that she was just missing something – some sort of joy. And that – was a sin! Life needed to be celebrated and not taken for granted.
Maybe it was the news of a good friend struggling with a potential cancer diagnosis? Amy had supported many people before through their cancer journeys. It seemed that that had been many years ago – in a different era. Medicine was different then. A cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. It seemed that now, people could live long lives. It was almost that cancer had become a chronic disease rather than a death sentence. There was hope. In any case, the news of her friend had disturbed Amy and her family deeply.
Amy’s thoughts of her friends were put onto the back-burner as her husband came bounding into the room, laundry basket in hand. “Hello, Princess!” he said.
She smiled, knowing that her quiet time, snuggled under her faux-fur blanket was over. And that was quite alright by her. Life goes on. There is a time to reflect and there is a time to move on.
It was time to get the day started. Life. Get on with it.