She says that when this is over she wants to travel. Alaska maybe, or the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite. She talks about the time we spent weeks together in a car, driving back and forth across Canada.
It makes me want to cry. She has hope, and it’s beautiful.
Right now we are almost through chemotherapy – one more round to go. She’s tired all the time, she sleeps a lot, she has no energy. This is, of course, expected. We were warned at the beginning that this would be the trajectory of chemotherapy – each round a dive into sickness and exhaustion, followed by a slow climb back up until the next treatment. Never getting quite back to where she was before, where we were before.
and so on.
And yet, she has hope. Sick as she is, she has hope. Weak as she is, she has hope. And that’s beautiful.
Following chemo, and some time to recover, she will have tests to see how well the chemo went and discuss options for surgery. These can range from a simple lumpectomy to a double mastectomy and lymphectomy. Potentially there may be even more if Lump has metastasized into other areas – that’s something we just don’t know about right now. Long-term survival will be the key factor in determining what happens next, with avoidance of recurrence as a secondary consideration.
We get back the test results, we consult with doctors. She makes a decision (because it’s her body – I can only advise and support), and then she undergoes whatever procedure she decides on. After that comes post-operative care.
And yet, she has hope. Regardless of the uncertain future, of the hard decisions she will have to make, of the looming specter of surgery and recovery, she has hope. And that’s beautiful.
Once the surgery is over and she has gotten post-operative care, there comes hormonal therapy, which is a lot like chemo only faster, with less time spent at the infusion center.A year more of needles and sitting in a chair and medical bills and stress. It’s less serious than chemo, of course, and that will be a relief. But the burden will still be on her, still be hers to carry, all during that time.
And yet she has hope. Regardless of the treatments stretching off into a foggy future, the continued ties to an infusion center, the worries about side effects and long-term survival , she has hope. And that’s beautiful.
Her hope is a beacon. It shines with a warm, yellow light, like the light from a fireplace on a cold winter night. Like a fireplace it provides warmth and comfort and a feeling of safety. It comes at a time when warmth and comfort are needed. Fear threatens, always, to freeze my heart (and hers too, I imagine), to lock it up in ice and block all progress forward. Her hope melts that ice and provides a sense of safety and security for us.
As a beacon it lights our way forward.
Her hope is a foundation. It is strong, solid, stalwart and supportive. It holds us up, and gives us a firm place to stand when everything around us seems to seethe with chaos and uncertainty. It is something we can build on. It is a place where we can steady our feet, catch our breath, survey the terrain. On the foundation of her hope we have the security to PLAN for the future, not simply to accept whatever each day might throw at us.
As a foundation, it gives us peace of mind.
Her hope is a map. It lays out our path forward. It shows us the best route to travel. With her hope we can see where we want to go, how we will get there, and how long it will take. Fot those places where the route becomes confused or difficult, her hope allows us to plan for different routes depending on the circumstances we might encounter along the way. Moreover, it gives us confidence because we can see what’s ahead of us, grasp the big picture of our trip, and keep up on the route so we are not blindsided by things, can prepare for them, and even decide what sights we might want to see along the way.
As a map, it guides us.
Last night I kissed her. It was gentle and soft and prolonged. It was something of a departure for me recently. Often she is sick, and has no interest in physical intimacy. Other times I am just worried, because her health is so fragile. What if I am carrying a disease and give it to her? What if I do damage to her easily bruised skin? If I scratch her accidentally while she is on blood thinners, what will be the consequence? So many things to worry about. I even try to sleep a little further away from her on the bed for fear that my toenails might gouge her in her sleep. But last night I was reminded of her hope. And that hope reminded me of how much I love her, how much I cherish the brightness in her eyes, that special smile that is only for me, the feel of her breath, her special touch. So I decided to hope too. To embrace optimism and positive thinking and intimacy once again. To step up my game to her level. To try harder.
Not all travel is physical.