Monday, December 31, 2012

Busting Out of 2012

When Rachel and I were little, we hated Sunday nights. We would always try to negotiate staying up to watch football with my Dad as long as we could, but eventually, it was time to go to bed. We called that terrible sad feeling we had on those nights, Sunday night feeling, although it didn't just hit on Sundays. Rachel and I, and later, Sean, agreed that Sunday night feeling hit when any really fun time was over and it was time to get back to our normal schedules. Family vacation, summer camp, weddings, graduations, Christmas -- when any of these great times were through, we totally had the blues.  

Like it was yesterday, I remember our summer vacation a few years ago. Teddy was off on an adventure with my parents and Annabel was taking a nap. I had a very (very) rare quiet moment and I was swimming in the pool at the house we rented. It was a Wednesday and I remember being so sad about that. Wednesday. Only half of the vacation week remained. I didn't want that vacation to ever end, and I remember wondering how I could slow down time as I swam laps underwater (also still pretending I was a mermaid -- I'm still waiting to grow out of that phase).

Until now, I've never really sat down and thought about Sunday night feeling. Now that I do, I realize that it may largely be a separation issue. I love the time I get with my family and when that time is over and I need to go out into the world by myself, it's kind of sad, even for a 32 year old. I really am a hopeless homebody. 

The crazy thing is that since I was diagnosed, I have never had Sunday night feeling. It's probably because the I-want-to-barf-I'm-so-scared-by-life-and-death feeling trumps any other emotion, but even as that feeling has gradually subsided, Sunday night feeling has not emerged in its place. 

Still, this New Year's is one of great transition for me and it got me thinking about Sunday night feeling. Although my official medical leave doesn't end for a month, I will go to work at least a few days a week in January to spend time on Wendy's case. My family keeps reminding me of the terrible flu season and that I need to protect myself through one more potential bout of neutropenia. My hand sanitizer is stocked and despite that I can't wait to get back to CrossFit, I'll wait for my counts to rise before I venture there. Surprisingly, I am excited for all of this, and I don't even feel the blues. 

On January 16, I have an echo-cardiogram scheduled at the Brigham so that my doctors can check to see if the Herceptin has caused any damage to my heart. I'm guessing that the test will be a lot more comfortable four and a half months post-surgery than it was 10 days after my chest was dissected and reconstructed. With those results, I will meet with my oncology team and then receive my Herceptin, not to be followed by any chemotherapy. That will be a big step, and one I am sure I will feel very proud to have reached. In the meantime, I will write (Maggie and I are teaming up for a Beauty Blog so stay tuned!). 

As for New Year's, I haven't been awake to see the ball drop in the last few years. This year, we're resigning our nerdy ways (just temporarily) and going to a wedding tonight. We can't wait. Rachel bought me a new dress for Christmas and she and Matt are watching the kids. Have I mentioned before that they are the best? Still, it's impossible to put my true nerdy self aside and I'll totally be wondering about everyone's New Year's resolutions tonight and tomorrow. I always find those so interesting.

The last few years I have made the same New Year's resolution -- to enjoy the present. No joke -- that's been it since Teddy was born and I felt like time moved too quickly. I figured (until now) that it would be my resolution this year, too. What better resolution for someone who was diagnosed with cancer, right?!?

But then I realize that for the very first time in my life, I actually achieved a resolution (Wow!). Yep, even today is proof. This morning Teddy left with Brian for his hockey game, and Annabel and I -- both tired and disheveled -- stayed behind. We had lunch together and we dropped red and yellow chips into the Connect Four contraption. It was awesome. So, for the first time in years, I need another resolution. 

Lots of thinking ... Water machine buzzing ... Floor boards clanging ... More thinking ...

Before I started chemotherapy, I was absolutely terrified. In one of my posts about that fear, I wrote about how I needed to dive into the wave and if I did, I would come out the other side. Well, I dove in, and the wave kind of leveled me; you know -- the kind of lift you up, drop you down, and leave you with a bloody nose and a bathing suit full of sand kind of hit. Yet, I somehow came out of the other side. My new years resolution kind of has to do with that. 

I have spent a lot of time in my cancer cocoon. I have tried to hide from death and any story about it. I have spent time in great despair that good times were over -- dwelled in the world of a strange cousin of Sunday night feeling -- Sunday-night-feeling-on-steroids (chemo steroids), if you will. And I don't want to do that any more. 

Six days after my surgery, the A Word A Day quote was this: 

If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. Despair is for those who expect to live forever. I no longer do. 
-- Erica Jong, writer

I remember reading this quote and hating it, wanting to be sick. I think that was also the day that I literally was sick, but nonetheless, you get my point. The thought of a loan, a lease, of life as temporary, terrified me. Sometimes, it still does. But not right now. 

So, like I always do, I copied the quote and Googled Erica Jong. She's not exactly Maya Angelou, but that's OK. (I do find it funny that Ms. Jong's first novel is called "Fear of Flying" and that, according to Wikipedia, it has "many sexual elements." Yikes. Anyways...) Right now, I'll make my little 2013 resolution based on this kind-of-totally-random writer's quote (fitting, I guess, since I, myself, am a kind-of-totally-random writer). 

This year, I will dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, are leased to me. This year, I will not expect to live forever and I'll try to feel less despair in the fact that I won't. I'll try to remember that my minutes are only temporary so I better put them to good use. Yep, 2013 is the time to bust out of the cancer cocoon. I'm curious to see what sort of butterflies have been growing inside ...

P.S. I also need to eat less sugar. Urgh. 

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Happy New Year!
The Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston (or "Gatey" as Brian calls it).
Stunning for a wedding at Christmas time. 
Brian and I at Andrea and Steve's New Year's Eve wedding. What a great time we had! This photo makes me laugh because my head looks just like the lanterns in the background.

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year, Tara! Those butterflies are going to be beautiful and healthy. There, I said it, so it has to be true!

    (And butterflies LIVE on sugar. Eat it and don't feel guilty!)