Well, it's been a pretty good week! I worked from home and got a lot of catching up done. On Thursday, I even made it to part of the College's fall kick-off meeting. It was such a relief to see so many kind, genuinely caring coworkers/friends. I was thrilled to be there.
Fridays have become a source of major anxiety as that's the day I go for bloodwork. (I've always been more antsy than most people when it comes to things like this, but all the trouble I've had with the ports has not helped.) Things went smoothly this week and it looks like both the incision from the old port (that had to be removed) and the new port are healing up ok. The best part was the reward afterward...
You all know that I grew up in Oklahoma, mostly in the suburbs, but my best childhood friend, Amber, lived more rurally and when we were about 12 (I think?), Amber got a horse. I was never a very confident rider, but something about all those days of riding the horse, sitting around while Amber did all the horse-care things, playing Little House on the Prairie, stuck with me because, a couple of years ago, I was writing and stumbled into all of these memories of life as a country girl. I woke this wistful Okie self. Before my diagnosis, when I thought I was having a surgery with a 4-week recovery time, I was texting with my brother, Jason, and said, "When this is all over, I am so going horseback riding." During my convalescence, I've been thinking more and more about that and craving just to be around some horses. Well, what did Shawnessey do? She found an equine therapy center in Wildwood that said we were welcome to visit. So, after my bloodwork on Friday, we went for a drive and spent a couple of hours hanging out with Florian and Magic and Brady and Hero (a picture is in the Lotsa site's photo gallery). I'm not near being able to ride, but we petted and brushed, and talked to them. It wasn't like a movie, where everything changed the moment my visit-a-horse fantasy [came true], but I do think I'll go back. After the horses were returned to their pastures, [Shawnessey and I] found a shady spot and sat for a while watching an empty, sprawling field and listening to the buzzing of the bugs in the trees.
The Saturday after my last treatment, I was so miserable. You know that sort of visceral, child-like place you get to when you've cried too much, and you just start saying things that come from a place you didn't know existed? Well, I was there and what I said to my Auntie Meg was, "I just keep thinking I want to go home, but I am already home. It doesn't make sense." It was seriously distressing that there was this call from some deep place and I couldn't understand it. Sitting under that tree, with that pasture stretching out in front of me and the heat and the trees and the bug noises, I had the feeling that this is home. Maybe this is what I'd been longing for in that terrible moment almost two weeks before. But, what is the this? Is it the actual landscape of my childhood - big green fields with horses nearby? Or something that the childhood landscape represents - perhaps a time when it still seemed like adulthood would bring freedom, when growing up meant realizing a dream? Maybe the home I was looking for was actually just hope for something better.
I guess all of this comes back to the first question that presented itself in flashing neon when I realized that treating cancer had taken over my life: all else aside, who am I and how do I choose to go on? That, I think, is where the hope comes in. It's sort of impossible to go on without it.
In the last few days, I've felt more acutely how the world keeps moving, moving, moving even when I feel like all my strength gets sucked up just trying to stand still and be.
There is a jumble of other things I could say, but for tonight this is enough. The takeaway: horses and lunches with friends and small revelations are all reasons to keep on keepin' on. And then there is you. Thank you thank you thank you for being here to listen and help and send good vibes and pray. It matters.
PS. Thank you to everyone who tried to help find Elgin a new foster home! In the end, she is going to stay put with the family she already knows and loves.