This year will always be defined by a single event. A single phone call on October 28th. A single word spoken by our family doctor. Leukemia.
It has subsumed almost everything in it’s path. But there was more to our life before. And there is more to our life now. That’s a good thing to remember.
2014 was mostly a good year. And life is more than cancer and chemo and hospital stays. Even there, it trickles into the cracks.
As B smiles and waves and calls out cheerful “hellos” to all the people we pass as the porter pushes her wheelchair to and from the oncology ward – her own personal parade route. As big sisters step into the gaps, mature beyond their years. As friends and strangers shower us with support in the form of food, money, gifts and prayers. As we find humour in the darkest places, like the generic gift assigned to B that just happened to be several bags of hair clips and a giant hair brush – worst. gift. ever. We had to laugh (especially because she loved that stupid brush all the same).
Life is bigger than cancer.
Love. Hope. Faith. God. All bigger than cancer.
That’s what we’re banking on.
So here’s us, as seen through our favourite posts, in 2014…
Putting Myself in Her Shoes
Once Upon a Marriage
It wasn’t easy, getting married as young as we were. But we were too
stupid naïve, too thrilled with our new-found freedom and togetherness to care.
Remember the hideous second-hand couch we were so excited to receive? It was SO uncomfortable! But we threw a green sheet over it and decided we were really grown ups now. At our age uncomfortable seating didn’t seem like such a big deal. Besides, it was just temporary. Eventually life would get easier, better, more secure…
I’ve been cheating.
On my church. With another church…
The Stranger: A short story
The Señor is enthroned in a frayed green armchair on the other side of the room. Straight-backed, legs planted wide, with a cane in his hand like a sceptre, he scowls over the coffee table at me.
“Well… you gonna come in, or what?”
I’ve never encountered a more intimidating stranger…
I Live In Between
Most of my life is spent in a place of too much and not enough.
Too much to do, and not enough time.
Too much stuff, and not enough space.
Too much eaten, and not enough activity.
Too much spent, and not enough saved.
Too much stress, and not enough rest.
You get the picture. You probably live in this picture too. Most of us internet-trawling, Facebook-posting, smart-phone-clutching, Consumers-and-Users do. We don’t want to. We don’t plan to. We read and write and repost all sorts of things to avoid it. But, it’s the curse of modern life…
The tag on the back says “12 mos” – a measure of size and not age. I shake out the blue and white checked pants before folding them, tangible proof that our almost two-year-old is much smaller than most his age. Tiny shirts, pants, footie pajamas and an impressive array of cute onesies emerge from cloth shopping bags, filling the mostly empty drawers.
I move the size 2 outfits we’d purchased to the closet. The weight and height measurements we had gleaned from medical files did nothing to prepare us for the Lilliputian dimensions of our brand new toddler.
Brand new to us, that is. Up until now he’d been an abstraction, the idea of a son sketched out in black and white via e-mails and social workers’ reports…
He has been contractually obligated to love me for 19 years. And I him.
Half my life. My entire adulthood tied up in another person. And his in me…
Raising You is an Art, not a Science
Before you, I thought parenting worked like science – laws and equations, inputs and outputs, theories to be proven and disproven with clear, quantifiable results. I may not have used those words. I may not have been aware that I believed this. But my first few years as a mother, and my experience as a daycare teacher, led me to calmly assume that I could manage and mold, if not control, my children.
Your sister, who’s always been predictable, logical and mostly straightforward, strengthened this approach. I had Opinions. I took Positions on the Issues.
Then you came…
10 Lessons My Daughter is Teaching Me
Ten years seems like a long time. A long time to be alive and learning and growing and discovering new things – and that’s just us. You’ve had a lot going on too!
In the past ten years you’ve brought us to life in a new way and taught us what matters most and nurtured our best selves and made every day an adventure…
That Terrible Twist that Changes Everything
Two days ago the biggest worries on my mind were: securing funding for speech therapy, my children’s potential texting addictions, and getting my butt out the door for book club.
In the space of a single phone call that all disappeared. In fact, it feels like the ground beneath our feet disappeared too. A cosmic upending. As if some powerful hand has shaken our world like a snow globe.
We are left dizzy, reeling, surveying the damage to our orderly plans and expectations. And terrified…
A Bad Cancer Day
…although I wax eloquent about sharing the real story in all it’s raw ugliness, I know that most don’t want to hear it. Cute and cuddly tales from the cancer ward are much more palatable – an uplifting message with a smiling picture to boot.
But this is life too. The low points. The bad shit…
The Big “C” Doesn’t Stand for Christmas Around Here
‘Tis the season to put on a happy face, some matchy-matchy outfits and show the world how fabulous it is to be me; surpassed only by the sheer joy that comes from being one of my well-adjusted children.
It’s a festive filter. Not lies so much as a iron-willed determination to focus on all the happy, and only the happy. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’ve often looked at a carefully staged family photo and been encouraged. Because we are those people, the best and the brightest parts of our lives.
But we’re also the dark and the ugly…