It has been a little while since I have written anything down, my thoughts and fears – our day to day carry on. It seems that the jumblings of life have picked me up and swept me along as if there is not much time to stop and take a breath. But stop I must, because next week almost to the day is the school Nativity.
This time two years ago I made a promise to myself not to take any of the things that I had in life for granted – ever again.
I remember it as though it were yesterday, the determination that I found deep within me to make my little boy’s first play at all costs. I remember it because I refused to keep the all important appointment, the one where I knew that the almost unthinkable would become true. The one where I knew that those dreaded words would be spoken – you have cancer. As I have said before I did not need the confirmation at that time, I already knew, and so I refused to listen on that day and instead I made room for something much more important. Far more important.
There was something about making that play… Perhaps I needed to go… Perhaps I did not want to miss the memory… Perhaps my boy needed to catch my eye in the crowd… Perhaps he needed the thumbs up as much as I needed to give it? I remember it clear as crystal, and that is quite something given that my memory is fading. I remember the children singing the all too familiar songs, the nerves on my boy’s face, the tears welling up in my eyes. Tears of happiness though, not sadness. Tears of gratitude, that I had made it. Tears of pride.
Since then a lot has happened. An awful lot.
I am still no good at being the organised mum. We still rush around in the mornings at one hundred miles an hour, except now my little girl has started school as well, and so there is double of everything that I do not seem to be able to manage. There are something’s that will never change.
The hardest part that I have found of late, is coping with the second school term and my daughter’s seemingly endless tears of tiredness. She is exhausted, I am exhausted, and this does not make for a calm day to day carry on. I still forget important school things, money for the tombola, hats, gloves, drinks and the all important afterschool snack.
Something’s will never change, maybe I will never change.
There are a few things that have changed though, and for the better I would like to think. I make more time to visit friends when it has been a while. I say yes more often than not to the weekends away for some ‘me’ time (although these are laden with guilt). I frequently drop everything and collapse in a heap on the sofa to watch a movie with the children, or I say yes to treating them both to a hot chocolate and over-priced cake at our local Costa coffee. More than anything I have noticed a shift in myself. An empathy (if that is the right word to use) towards those who have been through similar things to myself. A good friend recently told me that he and his wife had lost a dear friend to breast cancer, and he paused as he told me, as if unsure as to whether he would be hurting my feelings. He went on to explain that their loss had made them think of me, and what I had been through. It did not hurt my feelings at all because I understood their loss and the emotion and anguish that they must have been feeling. As time goes by I am feeling less raw and more hardened towards those difficult discussions. If anything, I had a sense of pride that he felt that he could confide in me, because cancer is a lonely place – not just for those going through it, but for friends and family too.
Sometimes I do get angry at myself for letting the jumblings of life sweep me along. For taking for granted some of the little things like health, and love and happiness. I suppose though, if I have the presence of mind to put the breaks on and just stop, just for a moment, then that might just be enough.
This year I do not need to remind my husband to take some time off to go to the Nativity. He has already done it, he is already there, because the importance is tangible to us as a family. This year we have a shepherd making her school play debut and reindeer with a very important line to say. This year advent calendars are once again counting down, the tree is yet to go up and there are lists and lists of things to just ‘get on and do’.
I have decided that I will not be remembering the exact day that those words were spoken to me, as I know many others do. I am going to enjoy the fact that my memory seems to be erasing some of the finer details of that day from my mind.
Instead, I will be trying to catch the gaze of my children from within the crowd as they seek it out. As soon as I do, my face will light up and my heart will swell as I signal the all important thumbs up to them both where I can. Children, it seems are better than medicine – it turns out that they are the best thing of all*.
* Even though they drive me to distraction most days.