A Mother and her Two Daughters

01 January 2011

Life Lessons in One Short Year

Last night I put 2010 to rest.  It was a genuine pleasure to welcome with open arms 2011.  I celebrated the New Year having dinner with a small but significant group of friends at Terry’s Restaurant, five friends who have been among a cast of hundreds who’ve carried me through 2010.  What a year it has been – my worst and my best. 

More than any other time in my life, an important part of preparing for the New Year has been to reflect upon this year past, learn from it, and then release it – kind of like the trapeze artist.  He can’t swing from one bar to the next without letting go. 

What did I learn in 2010?  What did I accomplish?  What did I do right and where did I go wrong?  What moments were most significant?  A few things I learned, and as Tim likes to refer to quite often, the good, the bad, and the ugly . . .

Cancer is a very horrible disease, a physical and emotional struggle beset with fears, both real and imagined.  It’s one of the most perilous excursions of life, filled with agony, heartache and other complicated emotions.  I’ve even have felt some overwhelming guilt for not truly understanding the horrors of cancer for so many years, when other friends courageously fought the battle.  And in the end, even when you are cured, your body will never be the same, and you never know for how long you will live without the cancer.  The word “recurrence” becomes such a glooming word in your own repertoire of language. 

This year I learned that I am not my hair, or my breasts or anything else except a soul that lives within.  And with great focus, and fortitude, I can find the beauty in almost everything – even living a life under the shadow of cancer. 

I learned this year that in times of crisis, there is nothing more healing than the power of those who truly love you, who give you strength and grace to continue living life as best you can.  I feel extraordinarily grateful to them all; will forever remember how they helped me carry the load with their many acts of love.  They have all been earth Angels to me. 

I learned that even in times of crisis, a good celebration is good for the soul.  The year 2010 was filled with milestones and merriment unlike any other year I can remember. I was able to celebrate the graduations of two daughters, one from college the other from high school; and the union of friends and family, the marriages of Morril & Susan, Isaac and Mary, and my niece Olivia to her lovely new husband Jon Abernathy. 

My own significant events . . . finding my way to the UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute, and putting my trust in Drs. Makhoul, Klimberg, Yuen and Gardner – which has led me to my very significant event – kicking cancer’s butt! 

When I reflect upon this past year, I’m filled with a host of memories and complex emotions.  It was a busy year, a difficult year, a year of surprises and the unexpected. In some ways it was a nightmare and in other ways, some dreams came true.  And while it might be easier to focus on the surprises and good news with anticipation that the strife might dissolve with time, I never want to completely forget the challenges and dilemmas and fears from this last year.  Those are what have made me a survivor, and a much different person today than a year ago. 

Thank you 2010 for teaching me much.  Now, let the 2011 party begin! 

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