Well it’s been another eventful week here at the old homestead. We’ve had a couple of doctor visits because mom was supposed to get her hip x-rayed after her latest fall to make sure she didn’t have a fracture, and the sewer backed up in the basement.
Thankfully – and yes, I am thankful, when the sewer backed up, the only things that came into the basement was soapsuds (because I was using the washing machine) and musty old leaves. The guy who snaked out the sewer said if it had flooded again, well, there wouldn’t have been any reason to be thankful.
So, yeah, I’m definitely thankful.
I’m also happy that mom’s hip isn’t fractured and she’s on the mend. I think she’s finally learned that she needs to use her walker at all times until she gets her strength back and that she hasn’t lost any independence by using it.
I’m not writing about being thankful because of the holiday coming this week, because I don’t believe in only taking one day aside to acknowledge thanks to God or anyone else. I find this especially true after the year I’ve had. I have found multiple reasons for being thankful and I express it on a daily basis. Sometimes it just pours out of me because I am overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve constantly received even in the midst of death, cancer and my almost constant exhaustion.
This has been a hellish year. I can’t think of a year in my life that was worse. Perhaps that’s because so much has been hoisted on my shoulders. When I was a child and undergoing abuse, I had no responsibilities, except to go to school and behave my teachers. I didn’t have to worry about cooking meals, paying bills or any of the things adults have to concern themselves with on a daily basis. I should also add that some of the particulars of my childhood are a blur, so while I remember what happened to me, some of what I endured exists in fog. While those years were tough, and no doubt, truly the worst of my life – because the scars from that time still affect me – I can honestly say this year has come close to surpassing that time. But I am made of strong stuff. Being an abuse survivor has helped me endure this experience as well, because when you’ve survived something like that and are tested to that degree, you receive a certain confidence or perhaps it’s a belief that you can get through things, no matter what.
Does that mean it’s been easy? No. But it does mean that I had the resolve not to fall apart. I’ve come close to it or at least felt so overwhelmed that it seemed inevitable, but in those moments, my determination or perhaps pure cussedness came to the surface and I got through it somehow.
There were times I truly felt like the personification of the poem, “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley, but I suspect that every person on a cancer journey feels that same way at times. My mom likes to quote this poem, so it’s something I’ve grown up hearing and repeating.
In case you’re unfamiliar with this poem, here it is:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The truth is, I think all of us have unconquerable souls or selves. We are all stronger than we realize and sometimes it takes something like cancer to make us aware of just how powerful we really are. Of course, as you know, I haven’t been alone. There is strength in numbers and my friends continue to bless me with their love and support. So that even in the midst of my father’s death, my mom’s cancer and everything that these events have entailed, I’m OK.
Perhaps in the end, being thankful is a way of being defiant in the face of so much turmoil. It would be so easy to just fall apart, but in the end, I’d have the task of having to get up and get myself back to where I am now, and who has the energy to do that? To be honest, falling apart sounds like a luxury at this point and it isn’t time for such things. So I call doctors, and use a wet vac and do whatever I need to do to keep things going for mom and me.
Life does go on and we all have the choice to let things conquer us or conquer them ourselves. Do I think I’ve beaten mom’s cancer? Of course not, but I’ve beaten the despair that almost destroyed me when she was diagnosed. Do I still have moments of sadness? Of course I do. I’m human, but they pass and the truth is, they always will. Some say happiness is fleeting, well so is grief. It’s all fleeting really. Everything passes sooner or later, so you might as well find whatever joy you can to help yourself get through it.
I want to add a special thank you to everyone who reads this blog whether you leave comments, write me personal messages or not. I appreciate you taking the time to read my words. Please remember to be thankful every day and that means even on the bad days. We are all of us blessed in so many ways and so often, we don’t even realize it. You are blessed with being alive, with your families, friends and loved ones, with whatever gifts you have, with your strength and most of all for being your own unique wonderful selves.
I hope I’m not sounding saccharine or sentimental, because I truly hate that sort of thing. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I definitely have a cynical, sarcastic nature. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from this hellish year, is that I am blessed. I wasn’t aware of it so much before, but I am now. I have been changed, for the better I hope, so yes, I am definitely thankful.