What I haven’t lost

Thank you all again for the outpouring of love over my hair post. It is just hair, and it isn’t, and I know you all understand why I say that, and why I felt like I did yesterday.

I’m deep in contemplation at the moment, about why things are the way they are, on several levels. Life is kicking the arse of some of my friends so hard at the moment, that it’s left me breathless, my head spinning. Today I farewelled my friend Denise, watched as her three sons, and her mum, and her 4 siblings, and her many friends spoke of the hole her sudden death has left in all their lives. In another part of the state today, a devastated family, including 3 small children said their own goodbyes to a woman of 30 who died of bowel cancer, only months after being diagnosed. Just a few months ago they were left reeling with her diagnosis…she was full of fight, positive that she would win, but not even time to do that before she was taken by a post operative complication, and there was no time to prepare, not that someone could ever prepare for something like that. Over the border, a friend has laid is hospital for over a week, chemotherapy has hit her so hard that she can’t be home with her husband, her two little girls, her friends. As a mum of four girls, I know that for me that would be a fate so incredibly unacceptable, to have to greet my children with a mask covering my face, covering theirs. And so, in order to have some quality of life, to take back some control, she has had to make an incredibly difficult decision about her treatment, one that I have not yet had to even consider. And one that I completely understand.

People ask me all the time, how I smile, how I go on, how I get up each day, how I keep bouncing back, when I know the inevitability of what is in store for me. For me, the answer is quite simple. I can do it because of what I haven’t lost.

I haven’t lost the chance to be a mum. Today I got up and took my children to school, just like hundreds of thousands of mums do every day. And just like hundreds of thousands of mums, after two weeks (and one day, thanks to a curriculum day), I was pretty happy to wave them off, and I might have yahoo’d as they walked through the school gate, as I turned on the radio station I wanted to listen to, and shouted PLAY IT LOUD, OK. Still, after a day of grief and heartache, I was pretty happy to see them when school finished for the day. Because, they haven’t lost me, and I haven’t lost them. I haven’t lost that.

Tonight I went out on a date with the man I have loved for 15 years. We saw The Martian, and he fell asleep, so I had to nudge him when he snored. He said that shit was right up there with Moulin Rouge (and I can tell you, this man hated Moulin Rouge…is that how you even spell it?) And we laughed. We’ve been to hell and back, my body has been broken by cancer, sometimes nearly my mind too. But yet, even through the hell and the pain, there has been revelations. This is the man who holds me when I’m scared, even though he is probably more scared himself. This is the man who gets up in the middle of the night, when I cry out, as the toxicity of chemo burns through the adhesive on my colostomy bag, and I wake up covered in my own shit, and he quietly turns on the shower and gets out some sheets. I remember the first time it happened, and I sat on the edge of the bed, burning with shame, just looking at him in abject horror. I wondered how life had come to this, when your husband, who fell in love with, and made love to a body that wasn’t broken, wasn’t shameful, wasn’t dirty, has to help you clean up your own shit? I looked at him, mute, but what looked back to me was an open face, filled with love. Even in the midst of such horror, there was beauty in that moment, as I knew that no matter what else is thrown at us, he’ll still be there, still with that face, the one that doesn’t know how to do anything but love me, even when I am at my very worst. Tonight I will snuggle into his back, exhale, know true peace. I haven’t lost that.

Tomorrow I’ll get up, and we will do the same routine we do every day. I’ll argue with the girls about dressing appropriately for the season, and they’ll squabble about socks and who is having the last mandarin and who has to settle for a banana. Before I chase them into the car, I might (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t) cast a glance at the girl with the white hair in the bathroom mirror. I might brush my hair, and a lot of strands might fall out, or maybe just a few. At the end of the day, it won’t matter. I like the girl with the white hair, that one I am so grateful that I got to know. I’ll still like her, whether she has hair or not. I haven’t lost that.

My heart is with so many of you tonight, my friends. I will get up tomorrow morning, smile, be grateful, for what I haven’t lost.

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11 Comments on “What I haven’t lost

  1. You are doing incredibly well. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thinking of you and sending you much love hugs and sunshine XOXOX

  2. The loss of life so sad, especially such young women. Yet your attitude still positive. Thoughts with you as always. Thinking of you as I snuggle my own chemo bottle tonight. Yes… Much happiness still to be had in life including thinning leg hairs. Less to shave. Hey… Silver lining.

  3. It is OK to have our mini meltdowns. I say they are compulsory. Those ones that when we look back at them we shrug our shoulders at the trigger. The rainbow that comes after the rain is always beautiful. I read this and yesterdays and nodd knowingly. Where there is love there is life and your world is certainly full of life. Hugs to you. Cheers Sharon xxx

  4. You nailed it.
    If only more people could realise what they haven’t lost while they still have it.
    So sad for the loss of your friends and the others going through horrible times.

  5. Saw your pic with Gaz tonight and your hair looks absolutely fine, like normal, can’t tell at all that any has dropped out, so don’t stress, and breathe.

  6. I’ve been having a tough week, reading your post has reminded me that, mostly, life is great. Thanks for the check in. There’s nothing like a bit of perspective. I’m sorry for the loss of your friends. xx

  7. I admire your honesty and courage, and that of so many others following the same dreadful battle. Hug your family and they will give you the strength when yours starts to fade.
    Keep up the writing, sharing the good and the bad is a reality check for the rest of us when we figure life is not what it ought to be.
    I wish you and you family peace, happiness and healing.

  8. You are an incredibly brave and inspirational woman. Your children are so lucky to have you as their mother. You touch my heart with your courage and zest for life and put me to shame. I promise you I will do better! xoxo

  9. Hi Julia, you are just amazing l must say. l had a colostomy bag a few years back (a perforated bowel) and can relate to the night time crap ordeal but life just plods along and you deal with it the best way you can. We are both lucky ladies to have such wonderful husbands to care for us, I have been married to my fella for forty one years now and sometimes pinch myself and l wander why l am so lucky. He is caring for me again, l’ve just had an ankle replacement done a month ago and l would be cactus without him, so like you l am grateful for everything l have in life, take care till next time.
    PS. l haven’t been able to get and to buy your book yet but be assured as soon as l can l will be the proud owner of one…

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