I can’t help but notice the similarities between 2012 (formerly the worst year of my life) and 2013. Let’s compare, shall we?
1. Things got really bad at the beginning of June. The reality of the bad situation was fully implemented by mid-June.
2. I was going to a class at Calvery Community Church before and during the time shit went down. Both were framing what was coming – last year it was about dealing with the trials of life. This year it was on positioning yourself like there was 30 days to live. I’ve decided I’m never going to one of those classes again.
3. Both of these tough situations last until December, almost exactly one week apart to the day. It’s been a little depressing realizing I’m spending two consecutive autumns wishing my time away, hoping the time flies by.
4. Both were very expensive.
Looking back, last year forced me to really evaluate what I like and more importantly, acting on what I want. Not taking “this will suffice” as an option.
I had always thought I was very indecisive, but I now realize I’m just very picky. My inability to make simple choices on minor things were rooted in the fact that I just didn’t like either option. Often I felt as if I had so much stuff, but I always wanted more. Now I realize a lot of this stuff I don’t necessarily like, I just acquired it for various reasons: for some reason I felt I was lacking this, it was a good deal, it’s currently popular, someone gave it to me. I’ll go places and do things because I don’t have a reason not to.
Now that I’ve realized this pattern, I’m much more confident in my decisions. If I don’t know how I feel about something or am not really excited about it, I won’t act on it. Sounds easy, right? I recently spent a lot of time looking for a shower curtain. A small detail in life. After looking in so many stores around both Lincoln and Omaha, and dedicated so many hours to online shopping, I found only two I really liked.
Sure, I could have found something that would suffice. But after last year, I no longer will settle for things that will be okay. Life’s too short to surround yourself with things you don’t care about.
Last night while at a tailgate around 10 p.m, I decided I needed something I love in the form of coffee. Despite objections from friends, I left to go get one. The game was nearing the end, so on my walk back I noticed many of the people leaving were those who had a little more trouble getting from A to B.
The first one that made an impact was the stereotypical old couple. Walking much slower than my pace, they held each others hands tightly as the man seemed to be struggling more than the woman.
The other was a girl my age with either her mom or grandmother. I couldn’t help but admire her willingness to sacrifice a Saturday game day with old and new friends to help her family get around.
I reflected on both couples and the adaption to trails life had thrown into both their lives. In the past, I failed to separate couples like that into individuals – the vulnerability and determination of one, the willingness, compassion and strength of the other to step in to make that person feel whole.
When I got back to my tailgate spot, everyone had left (rule #1 – never leave the group!). So, I headed to the new East Stadium, sat in the window ledge with my coffee and watched the 90,000 Husker fans scatter from the game. Rather than feel frustration of being lost, I sat in a state of bliss of being out on a warm August night with my coffee and enjoyed watching so many people flow around me.
I found my friends and we went to the bars. I have banned myself from any alcohol during my six months of chemo. As someone said online – “There’s already enough poison your liver is trying to clean from your system, why put more in there?”
It was still much more fun than a lot of other nights I’ve spent at the bars. At one point, I sat at a table by myself and danced alone as strangers popped in and out to chat. I made one guy walk two blocks to show me his bike because I didn’t believe his story. I laughed with another guy who biffed it on the dance floor, and after two minutes of general conversation he told me how positive of a person I was.
I talked about death, which is a lot easier than talking about “how good I look” (did you expect me to look like I’m dying?), but more frustrating when that person telling me how to “die happy” is almost twice my age.
I’m still figuring out what I’m learning this year through all of this. I can feel big changes that are making me a fuller person, but I can’t work it all out yet as a comprehensive change. As a friend told me, “Things will be as good as they were before, just different.” Until then, I’ll just keep wishing time away until chemo is done and my second surgery is complete.