As many people do, today I’m reflecting on the year that’s about to end. If you’ve read the other entries in this blog you know that it’s been, shall we say, an interesting year for me and my family. Part of me wants to scream, “Get out of here, 2015! I can’t wait to see you go!” But when I really think about it, I can’t say that this has been the worst year of my life. That will probably shock you, but it’s true.
I titled this entry “A Year of More” because that’s exactly what it’s been. More of everything. More abject terror, more tears, more fear, more sadness, more sickness. But it’s not all about that. Here are the other, more important things, that I’ve experienced more of in 2015:
- More love between me and my husband. Our marriage is stronger because of this experience. He’s been a rock through the whole thing and let my cry on his shoulder about ten thousand times. He also knew when it was time for me to get a grip and would say something funny to get me into a better place emotionally.
- More appreciation for my health as I began to regain it.
- More prayers said on my behalf than ever before, many by people I’ve never met and may never meet.
- More friends, many of them acquaintances before I got sick, who stepped up with prayers, cards, food and gifts.
- More appreciation for health insurance, without which we would be buried in debt.
- More love from and for my friends, who were always there for me.
- More closeness to the two friends to whom I could say anything, even when it meant I needed to talk about dying.
- More phone calls from my children. My son called me pretty much every day and my daughter and I texted with great frequency. We were already close but this year has brought us closer.
- More kindnesses. My hairdresser buzzed my hair when it started to fall out and didn’t charge me for it. She even took me to lunch afterward. Subsequent trims when my hair started to grow back in were also on her. Friends brought us food for the first two weeks after my surgery and we even got meals later on. So many lovely gifts arrived.
- More hugs. I have hugged more people this year than in any year before. My oncologist, her staff, the chemo nurses, the lovely man who lets people into the cancer center parking lot (parking is free!), my friends, complete strangers who “got” my situation and offered support, my cancer counselor, my friends, my students, my students’ parents and of course my husband, children (I include my daughter-in-law and soon to be son-in-law in that group) and my two adorable grandsons. My arms have been full all year.
- More dreams fulfilled: W and I went to Universal Studios in Orlando in October so we could visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a great big book nerd and I couldn’t wait to go there. It was so much fun. We went to Disney World the next day on my birthday and then headed to Miami for some time with our niece, her husband and their darling little boy.
On the Monday before Christmas a forty year old dream came true when a beautiful 6’1″ Yamaha grand piano arrived at my house. I found it at the piano store when I held my student recital there. I had to say goodbye to my wonderful Yamaha upright that my students and I had enjoyed for about fifteen years and there was definitely some sadness there, but the new piano has such an amazing sound that I was able to let the other one go in hopes that it will find a loving musician to play it.
12. More closeness with my mother. We’ve had a difficult relationship and that’s too long a story to go into here. But I’ve felt so sorry for her this year because of my cancer diagnosis. No parent wants to hear that their child has a serious disease. When I told her she was so matter of fact about it that I told my husband I knew she was in shock. She later told me that she walked around for about two days before she really came back to herself. My dad, who at 86 has significant health problems, couldn’t even talk to me about it for months. It was just too painful for him. I called my parents every week to let them know how I was doing and to reassure them that chemo wasn’t nearly as bad as they (and I) feared it would be. They live 150 miles away and we visited in both June and July but the trips exhausted me, so we didn’t see them again until Thanksgiving. Now that I’m four months out of chemo I have the strength to go see them more frequently.
13.More time: thanks to my doctor and her staff and the chemo nurses and prayers I have more time to spend with my loved ones and friends. I can read more books, play more music, laugh more and cry more. More time to travel, to laugh at my husband’s Donald Duck impersonation (it’s the best!), to share my love of music with students, to hug my grandsons and watch them grow. Time to see my daughter graduate from college and marry the man of her dreams.
So as you can see, this has actually been kind of a great year. I wake up every day thankful for my life. I don’t have to wake up thinking “I have cancer” anymore. I can do yoga, walk the dog, play the piano, run around with my grandsons and enjoy the wine, the food, the sun, the rain, the birds, my pets, and everything else around me. My heart is bigger than before and I think I’m a better person than I was at this time last year. So farewell, 2015, and thank you for the lessons I learned and the gifts you brought me.
May all of you find blessings and joy around you today and everyday.