You hold a lot of meaning for me this year. Last year at this time, nobody knew if I’d make it to my next birthday. A friend of mine organized a party for my 33rd. Lots of people showed up to help me celebrate. A couple of dear friends came in from out-of-state and spent that weekend with me. I showed them around town and we reminisced about the last 15 years of friendship, constantly skirting the reality of my sickness because none of us wanted to think that it was possibly the last time we’d see each other.
Well, I’ve been living with cancer for over a year. I went on vacation with one of those out-of-state friends a few months ago, and I stay with the other one every time I have a clinical trial visit. My 34th birthday is in 19 days, and I’m going to spend it with those two friends after my 3 month trial follow-up. It feels poetic, really, this circle of celebration.
It’s been a really hard year, for obvious reasons. But also for not so obvious ones. I did a lot of work that was heart-hard, too. I let go of relationships that were toxic to me, and I grieved those losses. Then I had to give myself permission to deserve better and move forward. I’m still learning, but I see a lot more sunrises to balance out the sunsets in my future.
I’ve started working outside of the house again for the first time in two years. I planned to ease my way into it, but it just worked out that the two part-time jobs I said yes to equal 40 hours. And I need the money. I’m exhausted. Bone tired. I come home from my first job every afternoon, pull the ice packs out of the freezer, and begin working on my second job. As I’ve laid down to sleep each night, I’ve had a good weary cry. And then my introverted brain has been assaulted by too many thoughts to allow me the luxury of quickly drifting off. So I cry again.
But you, October, you bring new hope.
You’ve been ushered in by an unusually warm day for the first, but rain and cooler temps are on their way tonight. I can feel your reds and oranges drawing me close, and I’m getting my fleece blanket and wool socks ready. I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted–because I’m able to work again, and that means I’m still here. I’m going to get new bloodwork and new scans in a couple of weeks, and I’ll hear the results somewhere around my birthday. And whatever they say, this year is a gift. Each breath I’ve been given is a gift. Every exhausting day, every tight hug, every episode of The Blacklist…all gifts. Because I’m still here, October, and you are a beautiful reminder of the changing seasons of life.
I have no idea what the future holds, but I hope to see you again next year. And maybe for the next 50 or so years after that.
You know you’re my favorite. Perhaps you can go a little easier on me this year? You know what, I take that back. Whatever may come, I’m ready. I’m going to follow your lead and try to be a bit more deciduous myself.
Here’s to sloughing off the old and embracing the new, October. I sure love you.
gourds and pumpkins,