Thursday was Andrew’s 48th birthday. Never in a million years would I have imagined that we would have spent this particular birthday feeling what we were feeling, nor having the experiences we have been having in the past 4 weeks. In fact, my mind has been so distracted that I forgot to buy balloons, a tradition, if not an unspoken rule in our family.
We had planned on spending the day together while the kids were at school. And yet, it had been a funky week (to say the least). Andrew hadn’t felt well and had skipped a 14’er hike he was hoping to do and I had been completely out of sorts, and thus we rolled into Wednesday night quite rudderless. Time was growing closer to departure, closer to surgery, and “time was running out”. Thus, Andrew decided to head down to the Collegiates and hike Mount Princeton, a 14’er he had never been up. We talked at great length about the plan, the potential outcome, how to be smart and listen to his body, etc. Of course, I encouraged him to go, despite feeling nervous about his health/never-ending cold, and the potential to set himself back even further….and thus risking his surgical date of 9/4. You see, I had become quite attached to Wednesday, September 4th. I have had my heart and mind set on September 4th for weeks now. In fact, I have been basing my days around how many days left until September 4th. And, I also could think of no better celebration for my sweet man on his birthday than to stand on top of a Colorado 14’er, in the wilderness, at altitude, appreciating the beauty of the state we have chosen to live in, as well as being able to feel his body function at its best, with full lung capacity.
When I look back at early last week and reflect on how deeply I was struggling, I am humbled. I am also embarrassed. I pride myself on being strong. I pride myself on being able to rise above and take anything that comes my way. And I pride myself on being able to override pain, and override fatigue, and override stress. Yet, it was just not that simple for me. Apparently, I am merely human. I wish I were more. I wish I were stronger and more in control. Yet I am not. For that, I guess I am grateful. And yet, I was so challenged by my own self in the early part of this past week. I would look at Andrew, and he was fighting a cold, struggling with a lung cancer diagnosis, writing blogs, reading and studying, checking in with me, fathering our children and more. And seemingly all ok. No fear, no anxiety, functioning. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of my own way, despite how hard I tried. I struggled. I struggled to sleep. I struggled to smile. I struggled to feel the gratitude and appreciation for Andrew’s incredibly positive prognosis and our collective great fortune. I was consumed by my own discomfort, and my fears and my anxiety. I tried to talk about it. Yet truth be told, I isolated. I put my head down, took care of Andrew and the children and trusted that this very uncomfortable time would pass. And it did.
And then it was Wednesday, the day before Andrew’s birthday. And then it was Thursday, Andrew’s birthday — over the hump, and into the final week before surgery and the veil lifted. I began to feel lighter. I began to feel brighter. And I slept. And I celebrated the fact that I chose to marry a man who is already a survivor, and will continue to be a survivor….and very soon will have the great honor of joining an incredible group of people who are Cancer Survivors. And I couldn’t feel more grateful. And I couldn’t feel brighter or more optimistic. And I truly couldn’t be happier to be able to celebrate Andrew’s 48th birthday together with him, beside him, and in complete love with him.
Yet, I still carry some fear. I still carry some anxiety. Yet I do so, while also having a cup runneth over with positivity and love that I can feel down to my cells.
We leave tomorrow for Houston. Lang can’t wait to take a plane ride, Chase is dreading the heat of Houston, and Miller is standing tall and perhaps just a bit too strong and stoic. Andrew just sent me all of his respective usernames and passwords, “just in case”. This is all so strange and surreal. And, I am about to head to bed. I know I will sleep tonight.
Three more sleeps.
Next year, I am sure I will remember balloons for Andrew’s 49th…