3 years. Has it ALREADY been 3 years? Has it really ONLY been 3 years? Trying to quantify the feeling of passing time is a strange exercise and one without a solid resolution.
It has been exactly 3 years since my world was turned upside down with a breast cancer diagnosis…and this year has been the strangest cancerversary yet. Everything just kind of felt wrong. It was strange being in Seattle. It was strange to not be in Groningen surrounded by the friends who were my support during the treatment and beyond. I have marked this anniversary the same way with the same people the last 2 years. We ate enchiladas…drank some wine…laughed…poked a little fun at cancer with boob cookies for dessert…it was fantastic.
It is my moment to remember what life was like before cancer and reflect on all the changes since. And there are many good changes to come out of this difficult season. I honestly wouldn’t go back to where my life was or the person I was before.
But I didn’t want the celebration itself to change. It was one step too far. Moving back to Seattle and starting a new job had already forced so much transition into my life that I was at my limit of letting go, grieving and embracing new things. Out of everything I wanted this significant event to FEEL the same.
It didn’t. I didn’t know who to invite…my network of friends and family here is much larger and a simple dinner quickly turns into a banquet. I was anxious because I didn’t have the energy to manage it all. Work has been crazy and the thought of pulling something together was overwhelming. I couldn’t find all the right ingredients to make everything the same as it was. It was all just wrong and made me miss life in Groningen.
I almost didn’t do anything because it seemed easier just to avoid it…but that felt wrong too.
So, I planned something small. Just a few friends for dinner last night. It wasn’t the same as past years but somehow seemed perfect for this year. All the pieces were there with a slightly different feel and in the end it just worked.
As I reflected today I realized that I was so focused on the details and the feelings being the same but there was a profound difference that would always shift things…Jonathan was there. It would never be the same and maybe that’s the point.
We are in the midst of a healing, rebuilding season and this week has required a significant amount of communication as we navigate difficult emotions and triggers. The diagnosis was traumatic for both of us individually and since we were separated there are a lot of things we haven’t talked about. There were hurts and frustrations we didn’t even know we had…or we knew we had but didn’t know how or when to talk about them.
But we pushed through the difficulties, continued to communicate and eventually reached a really good place. As we were preparing for the dinner I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to fit an hour run into my schedule beforehand. I had a long list of cooking and cleaning tasks swirling through my head. It might seem silly but the details of hosting dinners are still hard for me to let go of. I normally maintain a pretty tight control even for a small group. Jonathan had been very good with helping and told me not to worry that he would handle all the cleaning while I was gone. I just had to let go and trust that it would happen. So, I did. I went for a fantastic run in sunny, spring time conditions. And the house was clean when I got back.
A simple moment like this felt like new territory for us and seemed to show real progress.
So, I am thankful that this dinner wasn’t the same as it has been previously…it shouldn’t be the same because my life isn’t the same. It needed to evolve…and it makes me wonder what this cancerversary will be like next year. 🙂