Not surprisingly, I remember exactly what I was doing a year ago today. Sure, it's the eve of Christmas Eve, and it was only a year ago, but next year I will likely remember this December 23rd as a semi-ordinary Wednesday.
One year ago today I was in diagnosis limbo, which felt like diagnosis hell, really, if I'm allowed to be dramatically figurative. My husband and I attended our first-ever "baby gender reveal party," unless you call our twins' first detailed ultrasound a "gender reveal party." I cried on the way there. I cried on the way home. I did not allow myself to cry at the party, I put on a happy face and did my best to avoid thinking about my pancreas. No one else knew I was having a hard time, and I was determined to keep it that way. I drank a glass of wine, I ate some pizza. I witnessed the true joy of expectant parents finding out the gender of their baby. I was so, so happy for them. This event was a memorable lesson in "life goes on." This is corny, but every joy I have had the fortune to witness since my tumor has been especially joyful. I don't mean necessarily in a "I'm so glad I'm here to experience this" kind of way, but in a "life is truly incredible" kind of way.
One year ago was not my first memorable December 23rd, however. Four years prior (five years ago today), I spent part of the day in the emergency room (as a patient), as doctors tried to decide if I was carrying a viable pregnancy or if I was miscarrying. I would have to return on December 25th for blood work that would confirm a miscarriage. I had to make a couple of interesting phone calls that evening, since we hadn't told anyone I was pregnant but that my miscarriage might interrupt holiday plans thus people (parents) must be informed. So I had to announce my likely failed pregnancy on Christmas Eve eve. No fun. I will say that telephoning my father to tell him about my pancreatic tumor was much, much worse, though, but it wasn't on a December 23rd. As mentioned in a previous post, I'm going through a bunch of weird anniversaries this month, some good, some really, really, bad, but all memorable.
So, if this blog post were a record, "Life Goes On" would be the B-side. I'm not trying to compare myself to The Beatles, by the way, but it's a catchy, meaningful title of a decent song. I suppose I could also steal It's a Wonderful Life as an analogy for this next bit. After my surgery I was hospitalized for 14 days and recovering at home for months. I got a view of my life I suspect most people don't experience at the age of 33. I was most certainly alive, but I got to see what life was like without my active participation. You know what? Life carried on. My husband, family, friends, and daycare providers took over. I remember trying to explain this to my BFF, who summarized this revelation that life goes on as "a really depressing episode of Dr. Who." Yep, it's depressing to think about, but also reassuring. Obviously, I was the most worried about my 2-year-old twins through this whole ordeal. But I learned that they'd be okay. They'd know me, too, through the people who knew me. I'm tearing up as I write this, but it's a reality I tackled head on during my illness and during counseling.
But, today, on Christmas Eve eve, today's reality was normal things. Life really is incredible. Merry Christmas.