Saturday, December 31, 2011

The time has come for my usual end of the year journal entry. I usually write this in my leather bound book, but this year, I will blog it instead. It has been an unusual year of ups and downs for me and my family. In many ways it has been life changing and eye-opening. We are now sitting on the last step, looking down a very long staircase of shock, worry, sadness, grief, and the ultimate discovery of strength, forbearance, and love.

The lower steps started out shaky, creaky and hesitant, and the upper steps emerged strong, steady and even. We will take the final step this year knowing we can get through situations we never dreamed we could endure, and in the process we have found a depth of character and a wealth of family love and support we didn't know we were capable of.

It wasn't just my ordeal with early stage breast cancer that defined this year for us. It started out with my grandson Cole and the discovery that he had a tumor-like area in his tibia. The discovery was made quite by accident when he had to have an x-ray on his other leg. He and his physical therapist had a fall in the pool that required an x-ray. As it turned out it was a lucky thing he had that x-ray, because it pointed out a weak area in his other leg, where bone wasn't forming properly. That discovery had us all very worried and heartbroken at the prospect that his not being able to walk on that leg, would mean his muscles would atrophy and he might lose his already precious ability to walk.

Thank God for the excellent medical care he received, and that he has the pluck and courage he has. His bone is holding strong after his surgery and he is indeed still walking with the help of his walker. He is a strong little man and he has inspired all of us with his positive attitude and his unquestioning drive to move forward to do everything he needs to do every day. It is hard to believe that we as adults have learned so much from someone so young and so innocent. We have all gained from this experience, although it didn't look to be anything positive at all at first.

That ordeal sparked the decision by my daughter and son in law to build their new house at the farm. It is a beautiful house with wide hallways, open rooms, and an elevator for Cole to move about the house at will. It was designed in large part by my son in law, who has a knack for visualizing these things, and the business savvy to make them happen. I admire him so much for his level headed financial acumen and his intense love for his family. My daughter is the other side of that equation. She is a master researcher and she spends endless hours determining the best course of treatment and care for both of her kids. Even while she is working so hard to do that, she finds time to be an excellent cook, photographer and interior decorator. Her new home is tranquil and beautiful, all due to her artistic eye. It has been a big year on the farm, and we celebrated that with the best ever Christmas celebration in the new house. We all had a wonderful time.

As for me, the call I got the Friday before Mother's Day made my world stop and shift - in the time it took to have a five minute telephone conversation. The words - you have cancer - are the words no one wants to hear. I never thought I would hear them. I have always worked very hard to live a healthy lifestyle and have never done things to excess. I have enjoyed good health my entire life, and I hadn't bargained for that news at all. My husband was equally shocked, but was there with a strong shoulder to cry on. He endured his own battle with cancer in 1980, and we both thought we had seen the last of the big C in our lifetimes. As luck would have it, the aging body has other ideas about things like that.

I could look back on all of those events and think they were the worst things that ever happened to us, or I could look at them as a time when I discovered a lot of things about myself and those I love. I found out I am strong enough to endure whatever I have to in this life, and that I can get through a surgery. I had never had one before, so it was all foreign territory to me. I also found out I have the best family a woman could ask for, and their support and love buoyed me up through the entire treatment process and recovery afterward. I never felt so much love and it gave me strength. God, how it strengthened me!

I am a very lucky woman in so many ways. I am fortunate to have caught this thing as early as I did, and for the great medical care I received. I am blessed to have my precious family and friends. People can badmouth Facebook as much as they want, but there wasn't a day that passed, when I didn't get lifted by messages of concern and support from my friends on my home page. It kept me going, while I was gathering strength for my journey. I will never forget that love and support when I needed it most.

As if all of those events weren't enough, my dear father, whom I love so much, went through some very serious medical problems this past summer. We came very close to losing him, but being the fighter he is, he came back not once, but three times, from some terribly serious conditions. He is an inspiration on the other end of the family age spectrum - of strength, resolve and strong faith when it comes to overcoming obstacles. He has faced so many medical challenges in his life that he teases about being a cat with more than nine lives. I think he is onto something there.

So now comes the time to make resolutions for the New Year. I resolve to live the coming year without limitation. My new awareness of the frailty of life as we know it, has spurred me to decide this is the year to move my life in the direction I've always hoped it would go. My writing is taking on a new significance and I don't intend to spend one minute regretting what I haven't done. It starts for me now! Anyone care to join me?

1 comment:

Scarlet Begonia said...

I am with you dear sister!! We have had a journey together that has strengthened us in ways we never knew we were capable of. I am trying to do something new whenever the opportunity arises. I do not have a lot of fear in my life. I am once again experiencing a long distance marriage and am embracing the excitement and renewal that my husband is experiencing. He still has a lot of new frontiers to conquer and I am living closer to my dear girls and feel at peace and strangely at home in a completely new part of the country. I feel like I belong here and the fact that water is my "calm" I am now looking for a place of our own near the Cape. It is an exciting time for all of us.
Our parents inspire us every day and the spirit of my grand nephew, Cole is amazing. I no longer complain about every little ache and pain and I just get up and move whenever possible. All of the "little children" in my family are precious and proof that we are all so connected.
2012, for me, will be a year of becoming more aware of what is really important....