Night time used to be my favorite part of the day. The time when Mike and I would cozy up in bed together and I would half jokingly, but half seriously, prod him to tell me his "hopes and dreams" for the future. In a particularly funny voice, I would say it the same way every time, "Sooo....what are your hopes and dreams?" He would always laugh and roll his eyes at me and it became a silly game we would often play. But all joking aside, I loved those conversations about our dreams for the future....where would we want to live, what trips were we going to take, what did we want to name our kids. Mike has always had this incredible way of simply living in the moment and being completely content with that. While I have always been a planner and a dreamer. Not to say I wasn't content with where we were in that moment, but I loved dreaming of the future and what our life would look like. It's one of the most difficult things that cancer has taken from me.
I am grateful that after almost five years of living with this disease, I have learned how to plan and dream again. But it's simply not the same. I have to add little disclaimers to my hopes and dreams now when Mike and I talk about them...."If I make it to 40, let's do _______", or "let's go on that trip next year...if my scans are okay." Have you ever seen "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"? When I think and dream about the future, it's like a scene from that movie with these incredibly beautiful landscapes, bright and vivid colors....and then all of a sudden it's as if my dream balloon pops and I am struck in the face with the reality of living with an unpredictable disease, and my dreams turn to black and white, void of all the magic in that colorful fantasy world. No matter how hard I try, I cannot dream with the same reckless abandon that I once could.
Of course every situation has two sides to the story and I like to believe there is always a silver lining to be found. Over these last few years, I have come to appreciate living in the moment more than I ever did before. I have learned that I can still have dreams of the future, but instead of 10 or 20 years down the road, I talk to Mike about my dreams for next year and what we want our life to look like. I suppose it's all about learning how to handle the cards that are dealt to you. It reminds me of one of my very favorite quotes....
I am so grateful that many of my hopes and dreams have come to fruition over the last few years. And even more recently, a big one was a family vacation we all took to Mexico the day after Christmas. The older I get, the more I realize that we really don't need much to be happy in this life. All of the material possessions just don't do it for me anymore. I have the hardest time trying to give my family ideas for gifts for Christmas or birthdays. All we really need is to be surrounded by those we love and share experiences that bring us joy and memories we can hold onto.
I was so happy when my family agreed with me last year that rather than exchanging gifts for Christmas, we should take a family trip together. I don't think I had been on a vacation with my brother since I was in the 7th or 8th grade! We all left for Mexico the day after Christmas and not only celebrated the holiday there together, but Mike and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and we all rang in another new year! I am so grateful for this time together and it was a week I will cherish forever.
I have been feeling really well overall. Just dealing with some fatigue that seems to be worse lately and some aches and pains that truthfully probably have more to due with aging and having a physically demanding job. Can't blame everything on cancer I guess. ;) I am scheduled for another round of scans on Monday, March 13th and will get the results that Thursday, on St. Patrick's Day. I am taking that as a good omen for this Irish girl! And hey, if the results aren't good, at least I can drown my sorrows in some green beer, right?! :) Please keep us in your prayers at that time in particular, because I am still enjoying a very good quality of life on these current meds and truthfully, I am fearful that treatments down the road might not be so kind.
I am going to try to make more of an effort to keep up with the blog. Not only to share what has been going on with me, but also because it is a cathartic experience and I think it's important I make it a priority for myself. There are times when I am feeling down that it really helps me sort through my feelings, or look back on all I have been through in order to help give myself a little pep talk to keep on truckin'. I am also grateful it has served as a time capsule of sorts since this journey began and I want to make sure I contine that. I can't believe I only posted twice last year so hopefully I will take some time to document some of the great things that happened, like throwing out the first pitch at the Tigers Game! It was a pretty amazing experience!
So, now here I sit during my new favorite time of the day...the very early morning (of Saturday or Sunday in particular), before the sun rises. If I haven't run myself ragged the day before, I am able to crawl out of bed when Gracie wakes me at 6:00am. The house is dark, as is the entire neighborhood. After feeding the dogs, I start the fireplace and sit with a cup of coffee on the couch. This is the one time of the day where I allow myself to bask in the quiet, in the stillness that surrounds me, and be alone with my thoughts. It is in this time of the day that I enjoy the gift of another sunrise, another day full of hope and possibilities...and that in itself is enough...a dream that has already come true.
ps - Happy Valentine's Day to all of you...just an extra excuse to tell those you love just how much you appreciate them. Nothing better than that. So with that said, I hope you know how much I genuinely appreciate all of you who continue to be amazing friends and devoted family and those who keep us in our prayers even if you have never met us. Sending you lots of love today!
To be honest, the holidays have been difficult for me this year. I don't like complaining and I genuinely feel grateful for each and every day - but that doesn't mean that certain times aren't rough. I am the type of girl that normally gets really into the holiday spirit. I love decorating the house, picking out the perfect gifts, and spending tons of time with family and friends to celebrate. But I have struggled this year - struggled to get motivated to do my shopping, struggled to get excited about putting up my outdoor Christmas lights, and struggled to muster up the energy for all the parties and social events of the holiday season.
I had a wonderful few days last week when my friend Sarah was visiting. After Sarah left on Thursday, I fell into a bit of a funk. I think I was just exhausted from radiation, physical therapy, and running all around town showing Sarah a great time while she was here. I spent much of Friday and Saturday fighting back tears - and often times losing that battle - and just crying for no apparent reason. My poor husband would look over and check on me every 15 minutes or so to ask how I was doing - he could sense it and see it all over my face that I was just feeling down. I couldn't perk myself up, couldn't force a smile, and just felt like I wanted the holidays to be over - as much as I feel ashamed to say that because I know I should be grateful for this time with friends and family. It just felt like a bit of a blue Christmas this year.
Christmas Eve we had Mom, Doug, Mike, Diane, Dan and Melissa over for dinner and we had a great time. It helped distract me from my funk for a little while. Christmas morning we headed to Mom & Doug's for breakfast and gift exchanging. As always, we had a wonderful morning together, along with Jeff. But, I felt exhausted already. My eyes were burning from the second I woke up and I just didn't have the usual excitement about the day like I normally do. For the first time in my entire life, I didn't spend the rest of the day with my family. I decided to head back home with Mike instead of going to my aunts, and then to Mike's aunts later that night. I put on my pj's, laid on the couch, watched Home Alone (my favorite Christmas movie ever - along with Love Actually) and didn't move for the rest of the day. Of course I felt guilty not being with my family, but it was the first time in my life I didn't have to run around to a bunch of places on Christmas day. Not only did I want and need to let my body rest, but I just felt like being alone - at least alone with Mike and the pup. I can't really explain all of my emotions well so it might be hard for others to understand. The bottom line is that sometimes all of this is a lot to handle and it can be really tough - really, really tough - and I guess the holidays this year has been one of those times.
It's also hard to face coming to the end of a year that was filled with so many hopes and dreams. Every year I set goals and make resolutions for the upcoming year and Mike and I talk about all the exciting things that we hope might happen. I had such high hopes this year - dreams that didn't come true, and may never come true now that cancer has entered my life. And yes, I know that I have accomplished a lot. I know that people will say, "But look at all you have been through and how well you are doing". I know that I have so much to be grateful for and that I will set new goals and have new dreams. But, I also think it's only fair to let me mourn the loss of my old ones.
I had such a blast with Sarah last week. I am so grateful that she took the time to come and visit. Love you friend!
What gets me through each of those dark times, is my best friend. His love and support mean the world to me. During those difficult times, he knows exactly what to say, or not say - when to hug me, and when to give me my space. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes and I would be lost without him.
Our fate was sealed with a kiss on a unforgettable night 13 years ago. It was New Years Eve of 1998 and I had a serious crush on a cute senior boy, one year older than me. He was the star of the basketball and baseball teams and although we had known each other since we were in elementary school, we had just recently become good friends. A friendship that quickly turned into stalling after our respective basketball and volleyball practices so that we could see each other, phone conversations that went on for hours into the late night, and re-routing how we walked to class so that we could "run" into each other throughout the day.
I will never forget that New Years Eve. I remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and what I was wearing. I remember when Mike asked me to go outside to "talk" which led to that first magical kiss. It started as complete teenage puppy love - I was a few months shy of my 17th birthday and Mike was 18. We have been together ever since.
You aren't supposed to marry the first boy you fall in love with, right? You are supposed to date a bunch of people to figure out exactly who is right for you and weed out all the jerks before settling down and getting married. But what happens when you meet the love of your life as a kid? All I know is that I thank God every day that I recognized how incredible Mike was back then and how special our relationship was....I held on tight and never let go. And the rest is history.
Even before this recent roller coaster started, we had been through a lot together. We spent 4 years in a long distance relationship in college, supported each other through personal and family struggles, and endured the loss of Mike's mom together. By the time we were married, it felt as though we had been through more than many couples that had been together for twice as long as we had. I thought we were surely in the clear for awhile - that we had dealt with our fair share of heartache. I would have never guessed what was waiting ahead for us.
But through it all, we have remained absolute best friends. There is no one I would rather be with on this planet than my husband. And although we have surely had more difficult times than many people our age - the amazing, wonderful, and hilarious times FAR outweigh the tough ones.
Tomorrow we will celebrate 4 years of marriage, and 13 years together - nearly half of my life spent with the most incredible person I know. I am so blessed...but I am greedy and I want many, many more....100 more years would still not be enough.
Happy Anniversary to a man that lives out his vows each and every day. I am so honored and proud to be your wife. ♥
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