Posted on October 6, 2015
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.