Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Reflections on 2008
New Year's Eve 2008. We are going to Portland to spend time with friends and to celebrate the New Year, and what a year it has been. There is definitely part of me that says "Good Riddance" to 2008 but really, I feel like before I look forward to 2009, I have to pay my respects to a truly life changing year. It brought many things-some good and some not so good.
Loss: We lost Larry's son to a blood clot and our friend Marty to cancer. We lost our carefree life. Turmoil: Larry and I were both laid off from our jobs at different times. My layoff was a notification and I will be employed at WaMu until the end of March. In the face of everything else that happened this year, not being sure of our financial security threw our lives into more turmoil. Devastation: Not only was I given the devastating news that I had been diagnosed with cancer but so were many friends: Michael, Marty, Ankie and Shana. Pain: Larry and I both had surgeries this year but ours was not isolated to physical pain. The mental pain of being diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease is significant. It is immense-this possibility of dying and leaving my children and family. It is immense for everyone who loves me as well. No matter how hard we all try to stay positive, the fact remains that people die from cancer and I do not want to be one of them. Fear: The fear of the unknown when being diagnosed is almost tangible. The fear that there was more cancer than we were aware of, fear that it would win, fear that the treatments would be unbearable. I could end my reflections of 2008 there and say that it was an extremely miserable year, but it wouldn't be a very true reflection. It was miserable at times....really miserable, but that wasn't all of it.
Joy: In direct opposition to the devastation came the joy of finding out that my cancer was contained in one breast. We also found joy in everyday things; time with friends, good food, special events, sunshine and lots of laughter. Gratitude: I'm an independent person. I don't often need help from other people but I can't say how grateful I am for the amazing support of family and friends. I will never understand how people can battle cancer on their own. There is simply no possible way I could have done it without the great people in my life. Strength: I have many people tell me that I am brave and courageous but I don't see it that way. It's not like I had a choice in the matter; I couldn't just roll over and die, I had to get up and fight. What I do see is that I have more strength than I thought. Not only do I have strength, but so do my husband and my children. They are really the brave and courageous ones. They did have a choice and they chose to get in the ring with me and thank God they did! Pride: I have been proud of my children since the day they were born, but I am so proud of my family and how they have handled this. They have handled it with grace, compassion, determination, humor and love. Isn't this what we want from our children and spouses? To know that they can handle the hard things as well as they can handle the easy things? Happiness: Does it seem odd to say that in the year that I have been diagnosed with breast cancer that I would find myself to be happy? I am. I am very happy with my life and have found a certain confidence in myself that I didn't have before. I have found a joy in expressing myself through writing-something I didn't know that I needed. Clarity: My priorities are defined in a much different way since my diagnosis. Friendships are important, family is important, my job is important and my health is important. My health! I have ignored it for many years and been lucky. Now I get to pay attention to it and be grateful to do so.
2008 was a terrible year in many ways and I wouldn't have wished it upon myself or my family. But now that it is done, I recognize it for what it was...life changing. It brought as many good things as it did bad things and I am grateful for the opportunity to recognize and appreciate both. I will not go so far as to say that I am grateful to have cancer. I'm not-I still hate it. But I am grateful for those positive things that it has brought into my life and those things that I have had the opportunity to view in a different light. I am grateful to have made it through so that I can lay 2008 to rest with the dignity that it deserves.