In my mind, tonight officially marks the end of the "surgery phase" of my battle with cancer. My sister headed back to Virginia today, Brian goes back to work tomorrow, and despite that my Mom is going to try to be there every moment that she can, I know that she has constant work responsibilities that need her attention. My drains are out and I have taken a shower. And yes, the shower was incredible. But it was so strange too. When I turned to face the warm water, I was reminded that I have no feeling in my chest. Just numbness, and some lingering pain. It was a very odd and slightly disconcerting sensation (or lack of sensation), but I'm sure I'll get used to it.
Today we figured out the logistics of the upcoming mornings. I still can't lift anything over 10 pounds and although I don't really know what that means when I go to lift something, I know that Annabel weighs about 30. Typically, Brian would be gone before the kids wake up, and I'm used to the craziness of packing lunches, feeding them breakfast, getting them dressed, buckling them into the car, and dropping them off at school, all with an eye to the clock so I don't miss my train to work. (That all sounds far too simple when I summarize it in one sentence, but anyone who's done this routine knows that it's a flat out miracle when it gets accomplished each day. My favorite part is the tackle-to-the-carpet I have perfected on my children in an effort to put on (or put back on) some article of clothing.) Right now, however, I can't lift Annabel out of her crib, into her high-chair, or into her car seat, and I sure as heck can't tackle anyone.
With the help of my amazing father-in-law, Paul, who would literally drive to the end of the Earth for us (luckily, he's only in Southie, but with traffic lately, it may as well be the end of the Earth), my family, my better-than-the-best neighbors, and Rena (Brianne's mom), I'm certain we will make the mornings work until I can lift and drive again. It's a new phase in this journey, and I'm going to need to adjust to it.
I'm planning on starting to ease back into work once I have the hang of the chemo, which I hope will be in six weeks or so. But that still leaves me several weeks in between, and likely many days afterwards. During that time, once the kids are at school, I'm often going to find myself alone. I've never had that time alone without work that needed to be done because I've always had a full-time job outside of the house (or been on maternity leave with a new baby). Some people may think this time alone without any real responsibility sounds fabulous, and I may have thought the same a few months ago. But now, faced with returning to an empty house rather than a crowded commuter train, I'm very apprehensive, and I realize a crazy truth -- that I'm scared of being alone with myself.
I'm not going to lie, it was that very thought of aloneness that made me start to take my Zoloft. My doctor had given it to me weeks ago, explaining that many people take an anti-depressant while being treated for cancer. But I hate pills, hate the thought that I'd need to rely on them to feel better, hate that some foreign substance will be toying with my emotions, even if it's in an effort to straighten them out. Nonetheless, on Friday I took my first half-pill.
I know when my mother reads this she is going to try to make sure I am never left alone for a moment, because she'll do anything to spare me pain. Honestly, she's so good, she could probably find a way to make that happen. But the truth is that I need to have that time because I need to figure out how to deal with it. I want to be unafraid of time alone with my own brain, even if it's especially wacky these days. And so, through this entry that began with absolutely no planned purpose, I think I have come to one.
My goal in the next few months is to find a way to enjoy my own company. It sounds like such a strange thing, but it's clear as day to me now. I need to learn to enjoy, or at the very least not dread, my time alone. Despite how much I love company, I don't want to always need to rely on other people to provide a distraction away from thoughts I otherwise can't control. I want to be able to find some peace when those dark thoughts rear their ugly head, and enjoy the company of others as it naturally comes.
Mr. Badoian had a quote in his room -- "You are who you are when no one is watching." I know who I am when people are watching. Now I need to learn more about who I am when they aren't. I'm ready for this, because I really hope (and actually, even tend to think) that I'm going to like who I find.