I’m generally a fan of pie. Well, truthfully, it’s usually more about the pie crust but, overall, pie ends up in my good books. Lately, however, I’ve been served up a slice or two that’s been pretty tough to digest – yup, the infamous ‘humble pie’. Chock full of things that are good for you, but still a digestion disaster. I have learned that no matter how “Type A” or scheduled or organized I might like to think I am, no amount of planning has prepared for me for exactly how difficult this journey has been – and how completely out of my element I am.
You see, I went in to this crazy journey trying to keep things as normal as possible – for me, for my friends, my family – and particularly for my beautiful little boy. What I have learned, now that we are officially 62.5% of the way through these “poison powwows” (but who’s counting??), is that no matter how hard I try, the ‘normal’ that I have come to know, love and rely upon is nowhere to be found.
Instead, I have been left with a new set of rules, feelings and survival tactics that I have not-so-lovingly come to refer to as “The New Normal”.
So what does this “new normal” entail?
- It’s waking up each morning holding my breath & crossing my fingers as I pry open each eyelid in the hopes that today will be a relatively good day.
- It’s explaining to my saddened little boy why I can’t get out of bed and hang out with him yet again.
- It’s praying (albeit somewhat selfishly) that my eyebrows and eyelashes don’t follow the path my hair did and leave me completely.
- It’s a continual cycle of counting days/weeks/months until the next treatment/appointment/feel good day occurs.
- It’s attending weddings where the mother-of-the-groom dances with her son and doing everything I can not to burst out into an ugly cry at the thought of not being there for my own son’s wedding.
- It’s feeling incredibly self-conscious anytime I wear my wig – like everyone around me knows that I’m trying to pull one over on them or something.
- It’s spending so much time choking down pills & hooked up to IVs that the thought of ever even popping a Tylenol again makes my stomach turn.
- It’s the daily guilt that my husband, son, family & friends have pretty much taken over the responsibility of getting our family through these past few months while I contribute next to nothing.
- It's the constant fear that I won't live to do all of the things I want to see, do, and experience... and that I won't get all the time I want with my husband, my son and all of the other wonderful people in my life.
- It’s celebrating people I hear about who are multi-time cancer survivors, while feeling a huge horse-kick in the stomach every time I hear about people who have to go through this more than once. No way can I do this again.
So there it is – The New Normal. And here I am, trying to somehow jam its rectangular-shaped edges into the beautifully rounded shape that the “real normal” holds in my life. As any toddler with a shape-sorter will tell you, that’s never a pretty process – and my tantrums can be just as ugly.
What I have learned, however, is that there are a few elements of this “new normal” that seem to be able to fit in a bit more smoothly.
So as I sit here serving up yet another lukewarm slice of that infamous humble pie, I can tell you that The New Normal also includes:
- An appreciation for the little things that add so much joy to my days – lattes & lemon poppyseed loaf, the crispness of the Fall air sneaking in through my window, extra snuggles with my son…
- A promise to take my son on a trip when all of this is over. His choice of destination. And I won’t roll my eyes or try to lobby for a better location. And I won’t complain that we can’t afford it. I will simply enjoy the fact that I’m spending healthy, happy, amazing time with my boys.
- An awareness that there are people in this world who will drop everything to put other people’s needs ahead of their own. I have been truly inspired day after day by the continued contributions – meals, gifts, emails, prayers – that my family has been blessed with over the past few months. I don’t know that I deserve them but I’m pretty sure no one could appreciate them more.
- A reminder to ‘get over myself’ – my biggest ‘ugly cry’ since my cancer diagnosis was when my hair started falling out. A very small price to pay when compared with spending a long and happy life with my family.
- The realization that asking for help doesn’t make you weak or undercut your own strength and capabilities. I simply can’t get through all of this without help – and I feel so fortunate that I haven’t had to.
So there you have it. In another week I will hopefully be 75% of the way through this – yes, 3/4 of the way there… a solid B+ if anyone was grading me. I will go on record and state that this will definitely be a big day for us around here (we’re all counting!) – so you can just imagine the state of the Lawson household once we hit that treasured final treatment date! There will be smiles, there will be laughter, there will be hugs… there may even be a bottle of wine or two!
And then we will be left to figure out our even “newer normal” – the place where we try to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other in these new circumstances. I don’t know what it will entail, I don’t know how we will adjust, but I have no doubt I will do everything I can to embrace our New Normal and all of the gifts that come with it.
And it may even involve pie.