Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two years later

Only supposed to last a couple hours but with overnight lows in the teens, resuming normal activities tomorrow seems doubtful.

Today marks two years since my breast cancer diagnosis. It's a mostly heavy day for me. I'm dealing with vivid memories of getting the call that sent our lives into a tailspin. That said, I am glad to be marking off the time--now officially years, plural--on this side of things. I see my team of doctors about once a quarter, and all appears fine. I've been lucky to have very few side effects from the Tamoxifen (estrogen blocker) I will take every day for at least another four years. I've started running regularly and really love how it makes me feel strong and, dare I say, calm. Our family life still moves at a hectic pace, but today things feel more settled, relatively routine and mostly happy.

I know I've been quiet over here at the blog. I post fairly regularly to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, so that micro-blogging has hopefully kept those interested tuned into how things are going for us. In my last post, a year ago, I wrote about feeling heartbroken and the daily work that is mending my heart. Of course, that remains a work in progress, but it made me reflect on some of the things that have strengthened my spirit this past year. This list, of course, is not exhaustive.

  • Taking the kids to NYC in April, where we visited with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Dan and met our cousin and nephew, Sam.
  • My babies turning eight, five and three over a span of six weeks in May and June.
  • Visiting family and friends in Georgia, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky over a month-long, 4000-mile family car trip this summer.
  • Buying and moving into our new house in August.
  • Lauren starting preschool and absolutely loving it.
  • Spending a weekend in DC with my best girl friends in September.
  • Selling our town home in October.
  • Hosting Matt's mom for our first Thanksgiving at home in many years.
  • Celebrating with my brother Al and his bride (my new sister!) Melinda at their December wedding in Louisiana.
[I started to include pictures, but I'm having a hard enough time finishing this post, so I will kindly direct you to our Flickr page, which remains a pretty good reverse chronological photojournal of our lives.]

As I think back on the busyness of this year, there's one experience that feels particularly poignant and significant in my journey moving forward. A little less than a year ago, Matt and I began the process of looking for a new house. We needed something bigger than our two-bedroom town home, and wanted to be closer to Matt's work. It took several months of searching--including a few setbacks--but we ended up in what feels like the perfect house for us, just two miles from Riverside with a large, flat half-acre lot on a quiet cul-de-sac, where our kids can run around and ride their bikes safely. Between our neighborhood and the one next to us, Matt and I have some great running routes. Our house itself has a nice open kitchen-family room area plus a separate living room, that mainly serves as a playroom. The boys share a bedroom and Lauren enjoys her own room that doubles as a guestroom when we have visitors. My favorite thing about where we live now is having great neighbors. We've enjoyed having friends and play mates across and just down the street. We are only about five minutes closer to the boys' school, but for some reason a 15-minute commute seems so much easier than 20 minutes. Go figure.

After we settled into our new home at the end of the summer, we began the process of putting our town home on the market. We were beyond thrilled when we got an offer just a few weeks later. We closed on that sale on October 17, which happened to mark one year post treatment for me. In fact, our home-searching-then-selling process spanned March to October 2014, neatly paralleling my treatment timeline from March to October 2013.

And nearly every day--as I prepare a meal watching from the kitchen window as the kids play in our backyard, or walk down my street to chat with our neighbors, or get a text from Matt that he's on his way home and he's walking through the door five minutes later--I am struck with a strong feeling of gratitude that this is the place where we live.

Feeling at home, at peace, is a precious thing. I try very hard to stay grounded in each moment. It's hard work, and some days--many, actually--I do a bad job at it. But part of my continued efforts to take better care of and be kinder to myself have yielded the understanding that even my bad days with their fear, anxiety, sadness and/or anger can teach me something. Each new day is another opportunity to learn more and hopefully do better. Indeed, I'm thankful to have another year with those I love. For now, I am well, I am happy and I am grateful.

Getting your footing on ice-covered snow is tricky.