It’s been closing on two months since I last wrote and it often catches me off guard how easily I’m adjusting to life as Bitsey with(out) cancer. My hair looks like an intentionally styled cut (perhaps a little frantic mullet-like at times, but still, something someone intended). I have ceremoniously dumped the hideous compression bra and exchanged it for a lacy blue number. My mother came to visit simply for the fact that she missed us (she is use to seeing us every 2 weeks still!) and we did not make a single doctor’s appointment appearance. I have taken the first of many glorious and luxurious bubble baths. I have started to run again, having passed my six-week after surgery restriction. And while my body still doesn’t quite feel like my own–my chest slides more than bounces, I have a numbness in places that still tingle when I move and my pace is literally pushing 15 minute miles, which even in my previous tortoise pace days is pretty damn slow–it’s a start. It’s a beginning. A beautiful, glorious new beginning.
I was in San Diego this past weekend visiting one of my oldest and dearest friends for the baptism of her twins. I’m one of the godparents and Katy and Todd have been amazing enough to wait for me, working around treatment and surgeries and work trips so I could be there. I do have to say the baptism of two very mobile 2-year-olds is much more entertaining than that of newborns. Gigi was pretty much swimming in baptismal font and decided to just baptize herself at some point.
The weekend was quick; there’s never enough time when catching up with Katy, especially with three extremely active children, but it was special. One of the perks of being friends for nearly 20 years is I’ve been to San Diego probably more times than any other city and when I visit it often feels like going home, catching up with Katy’s friends that have become mine over the years too. They’ve followed my journey this past year–hell for the past two decades (I still hear about this one happy hour we may have been a little over-enthusiastic about when I was 23 years old) and at some point sitting on Katy’s deck in the sunshine (WHY DO I LIVE IN SUCH COLD?) somebody said I seemed more thoughtful, more intentional, more reflective. While Katy immediately pointed out it was because I was sober (it was 14 years ago people!!) I knew immediately what she was talking about. While in so many ways, 2014 was the worst year ever on paper, I have been thinking recently it may be my best year yet. I have learned so much about myself, about life, and what really matters. About how abundant my life is, how blessed. How much I am loved, how if I just stop buckling and resisting and just trust in my journey, that I always end up just where I need to be. And if I resist that path too much, well someone much more strong-willed than I is determined to bring me back, even if it’s in a seemingly circuitous way.
Some 17 days separate me from my trip to India and while my head is not fully there yet, I can feel myself getting closer every day. Terri, the founder of a Fresh Chapter, sent around an introductory Q&A so everyone could start to get to know each other before arriving. One of the things she wanted everyone to share was one word you wanted to feel during the trip. I, being the bad follower of directions that I am, put two. Grateful and present. And while I struggle with the present bit sometimes–Facebook! Worries about things that will most likely never happen! The massive vortex of my own thoughts!–I feel like I’m getting pretty good at the grateful part.
There’s just so much to be grateful for. Twenty year college besties. And more than one at that! (We missed you so much Em.) Seeing their children develop into people of their own, even if it’s people who are obsessed with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Sunshine and short sleeves and a bubbly glass of champagne. Rediscovering old playlists, appropriately called Chillaxing, filled with Travis and Citizen Cope and Bob Dylan and other songs that immediately bring you to 2007, while I do some chillaxing of my own in my cushy leather recliner. Getting a letter in the mail and reading it over a hot cup of tea that tastes like Cinnamon Streusel. Having friends and family that love me for exactly who I am right now. Seeing those friends overcome struggles themselves and emerge brighter and more beautiful than ever. Knowing I’m emerging myself.
And knowing that cancer is fastly fading in my rearview, leaving me with some curls, some lessons and an overwhelmingly clear and powerful sense of the beauty and love in my life.