Tomorrow I turn 42, and it’s also the Jewish New Year. A cycle completing, one year ending, another beginning. A friend asked last week, if I had a good year? My first thought was, HOW is that even a question?! until I thought a bit more….
I am shocked how emotional I am today. The day I went to the hospital last year was the 2nd day of Rosh HaShanna. I made challah and matzo ball soup the day before. In fact, that’s all I ate that fateful day.. challah and matzo ball soup. 2 weeks before I went to the hospital was my 41st birthday. Bryan and I went to the beach to celebrate. The first time we had been back since we had been for our honeymoon 7 years before. It was a great weekend, though I was already showing signs of being sick (which I thought at the time was PMS…)
So here I am, a year later. It’s an ENTIRE YEAR LATER!! It was one filled with stress. pain, and fear. I feel like I lost a year. There are times I am angry, resentful and frustrated; Moments that I still I feel broken.. like Humpty Dumpty missing a piece. HOW could this have been be a good year? I’m still only working 1/3 of what I was before. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the trauma- the leaking colon, the bandages, the pain… I now have a cancer diagnosis, with a mountain of medical bills and, staring down 15 years of annual CT scans, colonoscopies and quarterly bloodwork, with the fate of my health insurance in the air. My dreams of building a studio onto our house pushed aside… My life changed in an instant. WHAT about any of this year has been good?
Comma but… I’m Not Dead.
I’m not dead. 3 words that have more power than I ever knew existed. I’m not dead. For 41 years, 3 words I never thought much about. Sure, I appreciated being alive.. so I thought– I danced at concerts, walked barefoot in the ocean, frolicked in the sunshine.. I left a “real job” and followed my dreams to be a massage therapist, work with bands on the road, and in doing so I met the man that became my husband. I moved to a new part of the country to be with him… Then I created a handspun yarn business that allowed me to teach and travel to far away places…
It wasn’t until I was really “Not Dead” that I understood what it means to really Be Alive. I appreciate the everyday moments more now… I do things now.. rather than put them off. I was interested in making jam before the emergency, but just never got around to it. This summer, I made ALLTHEJAM!!! I learned that you need to enjoy something, everyday. You need to celebrate, every day- Wear the pretty dress, use Grandma’s bone china, take that cooking class, kiss your sweetheart and call your Mother…
I learned a lot this year.. I learned about patience. I want things to be fixed now, I want my pain over now… but my body is not on any timeline other than its own, and recovery is a journey, with many curves and potholes. It is one that needs a good roadmap, but is often one that you navigate without. I have a new appreciation for cooking risotto- the patient stirring.. letting it happen when it happens. Some things can’t be rushed or they just turn out crunchy. No matter what, I just have to let things play out in their own time.
I learned about kindness… The pressure I put on myself for not being “well” yet.. for not being “stronger”. For not doing “more” while I’ve been recovering- How have I wasted all this time? Why have I not finished writing my book, spun all this fleece, woven 300 meters of cloth? I am still dealing with the body dismorphia I have post surgery. I may have lost 75 lbs, but my scar makes me feel deformed. Why am I still looking at my body so harshly? Why can I not see through the scar?
I learned about letting go of control. That my body has a mind of its own, within this recovery journey, and does what it wants, no matter what I want. Progress happens, but it’s slow and steady- and takes 3 steps back before it moves forward.. and none of which I get to choose what and when. That I don’t get to choose all my appointment times, and that doctors most often run late. That the next 15 years of my life will include tests and procedures that cost more than I make in a year. And that’s just the way it’s going to be if I want to make sure I stay Cancer Free. This is the the new normal.
I learned about the power of community and the strength of friendship. That there truly are more good people than bad out there. That people care enough to reach out, and when people come together they create a force- that helped saved my life and gave me support and uplifted me in my darkest times. I learned that friends are there through the worst.. and the best listen and respond with nothing other than “I’m sorry”, offering no suggestions of “fixing”.. just laughing with me, uplifting me, holding me when I cry and just gently reminding me that I’m not broken.
So.. was it a good year? It was certainly a hard year.. .. one filled with pain and frustration, but also filled with learning and growing. There were some of the most horrific moments I have ever experienced.. but also some of the most inspiring. My husband has been an amazing caretaker. My family has been endless supportive and encouraging, my mother sleeping by my hospital bed for 9 nights. My friends lift me up, and my community keeps me going. I am blessed, and ever grateful. I watched my body get stronger, rebuiding itself with yoga. The trauma re-inspired my yoga practice so fully, that I have signed up for Yoga Teacher Training in 2018. So yes, it was a good year. I look forward to the next year being one filled with laughter and dancing, with less pain and frustration. But I know that it’s part of the journey, and I just need to trust the process, knowing everything will eventually work out as it should.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for coming along for the ride, being my encouragment along and holding me up when I fall. I’m sorry to those I hurt and neglected this year. I hope that next year I will be more mindful. Thank you for being my friends and my community. Thank you for reminding me I am not broken. Nov 7 is my next surgery and that’s when Humpty Dumpty gets her missing piece.. and I know you’ll all be there cheering me on.
So between now and surgery is SAFF, in Asheville, the last weekend in Oct. I will have my double booth with as much handspun and fibery batts as I can make. I have spots open in both of my classes. Last year for the festival I was only a week out of the hospital and still quite sick, this year I look forward to giving big hugs to everyone!! I look forward to surrounding myself with the creative energy that will take me through the next surgery and recovery. I can’t wait to see you all!!
Happy new year!! May 5778 be a year full of light and dancing. I hope you laugh until you cry and love until you hurt. May you learn and grow, and may any pain you feel be balanced with joy. And thank you for being a part of my life. L’Shana Tova.