The times that it pops up are rather infrequent now, which is nice in some ways- long periods of peace, of life just going on. Then suddenly I see something that reminds me that I had cancer.
I didn't expect to still be grieving this loss after being cured. It makes me wonder if I really grieved it when it was happening but I know (and have documented) that I was as in the moment as I could humanly be, all along the way. I never side stepped it, or shoved it down, or pretended I was okay when I wasn't - so that means that this is just the normal for me to process that I had cancer.
Last night I was reading a story where a teenage girl falls in love- and in the middle of her love story she finds out that her mom is battling to manage lung cancer that is no longer treatable. The story isn't a spectacular thriller, I read the whole thing in one day. It was a sweet love story that was just fun to read, but this particular part of the story was particularly difficult because I had to tell my kids that I had cancer. I went in thinking that it would change their world forever, and who knows- maybe it did. I didn't know what to expect from them but I was prepared for a lot of tears, fear and sadness. I didn't get it, which is great- truly, truly great, but when you have that moment ahead of you, it's scary and overwhelming. So as I'm reading about this mother telling her passionate, head strong daughter that she was going to die of lung cancer, it hit me deeply that I shared something powerful with her and with anyone else who has had to break the news of a serious illness to people they love. I sat in the bathtub and read the story and cried my eyeliner right off my face.
I didn't give it a lot of thought, I had cancer, dude, it's sure to pop up, right? I figured it's just part of the process and forgot about it. I had a great, busy day with friends and thai food, my family and delicious birthday barbecue dinner for my husband. We went to the store after dinner and a woman walked by with a scarf on her bald head and this huge lump formed in my stomach, and I smiled at her realizing that she has no idea that I know some piece of what she's going through, even if small- and then it really hit me - I had cancer, dude. Cancer!
I walked around for 35 years thinking that it was something that could happen, but probably wouldn't happen, to me. It actually really happened. I had a surgery and procedures, I had to worry about my death. I had to tell my kids, I had to surrender to the help of my friends.
There's no way to type it out on a screen and be able to translate the exquisite, acute experience that this has been. I think on some level I am still in shock- especially after it is over so quickly. I don't feel relieved yet as much as I do feel like I'm still trying to organize the whole experience in the file cabinet of my mind, my life. Where does this weird folder fit?