Life hasn’t quite worked out the way I’d planned.
I say planned, but as I write the word I’m already questioning because, technically, it implies at some point in my life I’ve thought hard about what I want, set some goals, articulated ambitions and, you know, kinda planned how those things might pan out. At which point the inner voices in my head – always arguing, never, ever in agreement, reach pitch point fit to confuddle me so badly I am struggling to reach the end of this sentence. Do you see my problem? Is it any wonder, even if I do start anything, I can’t finish?
Oh how I long for the peace, the clarity, the certainty of those who can plan! How can anyone even think with this noise in their heads?
I read somewhere back when I had a brain that most Ivy League / Oxbridge graduates (pick your continent) and a large proportion of those who have achieved great success without such academic notches, had a game plan. HAVE. There’s nothing, so far as I know, that means having such plans mean you die – but don’t let me blow myself off course here. And neither am I going to give in – for now – to the inner debate currently raging beyond my fingers, in that foggy, noisy merry-go-round that serves as my mind, around what constitutes a plan versus an anti-plan.
The truth remains, if I had planned, it wouldn’t be to be here.
But am I happy here?
Well, that depends how you look at it. I’m happier than I was a year ago, without a doubt, but frankly that’s not really saying an awful lot. I am GRATEFUL to be here. I am RELIEVED to be here. I am, after all, still alive (most of the thanks for which must go to my lifetime alchemist and talisman Dr G – he prefers the term oncologist though I like to think he is magic).
Happy seems a very big word for here. Life needs to – simplify.
However, today I smile with genuine cheerfulness because I am reminded once again how bloody lucky I am, and its all because of my hairdresser. Yup, I still have one, though we haven’t seen so much of each other, obviously. He cut my hair when I knew I’d be starting chemo again, shaved it when it started to fall out, and I pop in now and then so he can check how its doing. Honestly, I’d marry him in a twinkle were he not so darn gay, but I am getting sidetracked again.
Cheerfulness number one: there’s a lovely young girl works there with breast cancer mets in her liver and bones, and she’s responding brilliantly to her latest regimen. Like anyone in this position, its unlikely there will ever be a time when she doesn’t face treatment now, but thus far she’s responding well, side effects are minimal, and if she can hold up a couple more years, new drugs should be available to take over when her body stops responding to the current ones. Staying alive, in other words, can go on for quite a while without the feeling she is slogging it out with the reaper on a daily basis. She is tired, but working, smiling, and looking better than she has for a long time.
That’s one massive hurrah!
While I was waiting for my guy (hah, in my dreams!), I flicked through my diary and came across something I scribbled after I visited The Tower of London with some complete strangers recently. This was more unusual than you might think, and not just because I just about never choose the company of strangers. One of the breast care nurses at my clinic is a fiesty dame who is probably the bane of her colleagues life but she is the patients champion in every conceivable sense. Another of her patients is a woman whose husband is a Beefeater, and so she literally lives at the Tower. And our champion, out of the blue, decided to get a few of her favourite patients (**preens**) together for a little private tour of The Tower, including access to some parts not open to the public.
Reflecting now, what I remember most (apart from the Ravens, which are huge!) is the spunk of these women – such vigor, such zest – even as our hair fades to chemo-gray and our minds muddle with chemo-fog. I smile not because I felt kinship – although I suppose I did, such that we share parts of our journey.
I smile because I pushed the edges of my shrunken world a little. And it felt a good thing to do, so cue a little cheerfulness number two.
Number three is simple – my guy says it’s ok to colour my hair again. Cue happy silly very cheerful dancing all the way home!
Therein lies part of the problem with happy and here. I don’t really want home here – but for now, that’s where it is and I shall just have to get on with it. At least I am safe. And very, very, grateful.
I can be happy with that.