Once upon a time (about ten years ago), there was a girl struggling in college to find herself, to shape her life, to make decisions for her future. She worried about a lot of silly things, like whether she would find someone to fall in love with. Finally she grew weary of the worry and decided to live life according to her goals. Teaching jobs were plentiful in Arizona, so her master plan to graduate and then move to the southwest was formed. She didn't like winter and cold, Phoenix would be perfect! Guide books and maps were purchased, money was being saved, and a trip to Phoenix to check things out was planned.
Then like a sudden bolt of lightning, someone was dropped in her path that would change her life forever. The love she had been searching for was right there, but it wasn't without compromise. The girl decided to chase love for a while and abandoned her plans in hopes that someday they could be worked into her life again. The boy and the girl fell in love and chose to spend their lives together. Although the girl was wildly happy, the desire to relocate to a warmer climate never really left her mind completely. She learned that sometimes goals and dreams are pushed aside in favor of even better things, and was at peace.
The boy and girl had good times with friends and family, but along the line thought their own core family wasn't complete. The girl birthed a daughter and suddenly the family of two became three. Raising a child was a daunting task. The need to be with family and have job security became the new goal, and so the boy and girl made a choice to move to a new place. It wasn't Phoenix, it was still cold, but sometimes the pros outweigh the cons, and she felt good about the choices her little family was making.
Five years and a second child later, the girl was delivered another lightning bolt only this time it wasn't good news. She was sick. Cancer. The boy and girl were in shock for a time, but realized that the only choice now was to fight. Through radiation and chemo, through a major surgery, through more chemo, the boy and girl held each other up, supported each other, and leaned on friends and family who were willing to walk the difficult journey. On the way, the girl learned so much about life, about people, about priorities: some good lessons, some disappointing lessons, but life lessons all the same.
One day the boy said, "Life is too short to set aside all our dreams and goals." The girl agreed. Thus began the discussion of the future, the new reality. After being on the edge of life, they saw that change was again on the horizon. It was a hard decision: stay in a comfortable place and continue to forgo our dreams and goals or take a leap to an unfamilier city and start living the way we have always dreamed? The issues were debated late at night after the children were in bed, talking endlessly about hopes and dreams and what to do.
An opportunity presented itself, and the boy and girl decided to grab hold and hang on for the ride. Although they were saddened by having to say goodbye to so many people, the little family found themselves giddy about the future in a new place. Making their dreams come true fueled the excitement. And so the boy, the girl, and their babies are on the brink of challenges, of new experiences, of starting to live life again. The strength they found together will carry them through. And no matter what sorts of lightning bolts they face in the future, they will face life head on.
Okay, so I'm not a super fantastic storyteller. I hope it was mildly entertaining. Did you figure out that the girl is me and the boy is Eric? Yeah, I knew you all were smarties.
I'm struggling now, not with any of the choices our family has made, but with the reactions of other people to those choices. I don't know how to explain why it's so important to me (not to mention important to Eric) that we start chasing those dreams we've always had. Life is too short, truly, and you don't know how much time you have. I don't know how much time I have. It sure sucks to go there, to think about that, but the reality is that I *do* have a 25% chance of recurrance. It's low, but it's still there. I force myself to think positive, that I'll be in the larger group, the 75% who remain cancer free. But there's a nagging voice that says I got stuck in the smaller group when I got cancer out of nowhere, and it could happen again, that the numbers won't be on my side.
The decision to move wasn't made out of fear, wasn't made out of some crazy that we caught along with the cancer. Believe you me, the prozac makes me completely sane and very zen. Our choice was made thoughtfully, with our children in mind, with our goals and dreams as a family in mind. If it's helpful, I can list the reasons, I'm happy to do so if someone is happy to listen. We are embracing a new reality and celebrating life by living it. I don't want to have regrets, wishing someday that I had taken an opportunity.
I debated with myself for several days about this post, whether I should try to explain or if I should just let it all go. I found that I'm having a hard time and when I'm having a hard time, the best way to banish it is to journal it. I feel I've really put myself out there in regards to this whole cancer thing, but this was a hard post to write. It's close to my heart, it's close to the heart of my family. In my heart I want those close to us to understand, to be excited with us, and of course there's room for sadness. I'm going to miss the hell out of the people I've gotten to know here, friends who have become family to me.
I don't know what else to say. LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Perhaps I will revisit this with more thoughts, perhaps I'll be able to just let it all go now. We shall see.