• 11Jun
    Categories: Life Comments: 0

    It’s been seven years since I posted in this blog. A lot has happened during that time. I met the most important person in my life on a social media site. After private messaging thousands of words for many long hours, we met in person in St. Louis, him driving from Kansas and me flying from Pennsylvania. It was the first time I wasn’t nervous meeting someone new. And now we share our lovely house (albeit a little messy…he’s very patient with me) and home in a beautiful piece of Pennsylvania. With our amazing puppy-cat, Arnie, who was here when we got here, and patiently waited until we were ready to admit we were going to take him away from his existing family. Turned out they were just happy to know he was well.

    One night we went to bed and I told my partner I’d felt a lump and asked him to feel it. It was small, but it was there. After jumping through some highly unnecessary medical hoops, under the circumstances, I had a biopsy done and, yes, it was cancer. But “the best kind to have,” if that’s actually possible. We were at breakfast at our usual place when I found out, and I started to cry. Just a reaction, I think. I didn’t really know what any of it meant. As time passed, I decided I just wanted people to know, so I went around and told the people we knew well at the restaurant. Some of them thought I was nuts. In hindsight, it was weird. Knowing what I know now, always allow people to do whatever they need to do under similar circumstances. It’s like when someone dies. Everyone handles it differently. And no way is wrong. Frankly, I think I was looking for as much support as I could find. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it in most of those places. But I learned a lot in the process.

    That Thanksgiving, during a break from my radiation, we went to my cousin’s for dinner as usual. But it wasn’t usual at all. Shortly after we arrived, my partner suddenly wasn’t well. He ended up collapsing and had a lot of trouble breathing. We eventually learned at the hospital that it was congestive heart failure. Fluid retention from kidneys not working sufficiently filled him to the point of affecting his lungs. He was in the hospital for two weeks as they worked to bring his weight down. That kind of emergency changes how you see things. Eventually, he came home, my treatment was done, and we moved on to our new normals, working through the after effects.

    A new coffee shop opened up close to us. My partner had been looking for a decent cup of coffee since moving here. Finally, he could get one, and right near home! So, he started up his old routine that he followed in Kansas and went to the coffee shop every afternoon. It’s a great habit…same time, same place, often the same people… This time, the people were two young ones who worked there. He would come home and tell me about them. They were smart and thought about life, but were also light-hearted. The barista, although in her mid-twenties, had been through more than she should have at that age. She had the tough edges acquired from bartending and fending off drunks. She’d dealt with other life events that made her wise beyond her years. Yet, I was to find out, she still ran around on her toes. It was a long time before I actually saw her feet flat on the floor. Her co-worker had only recently entered his third decade. He was quiet with a big smile and gentle disposition, and eyes for the barista.

    One thing you can always count on is that things will always change. You can never imagine that they will, or what they could change into, but they do. I can’t even really say in what way. We all change too. Inside, if not outside for other people to see. This has happened over and over for many centuries, yet we can never really be prepared because we don’t know what will come. And, of course, as humans we don’t fully understand things until we live through them. How do you know what it’s like to be married until after walking down the aisle? Or what it’s like having a child until there’s a little being who’s totally dependent on you and cries when you leave its line of vision? Or how you’ll react when diagnosed with cancer?

    We have no idea what time will bring and it will surely affect us in ways we would never expect. It can even take years to understand what those effects are. Only yesterday, 2 ½ years after my cancer surgery, I realized that maybe allowing my sister to come for it would have helped HER. She offered multiple times. She wanted to be here for me.

    What we experience growing up, and after, makes us who we are. As a child, we have no idea what our minds are putting away for use later. Often those things sit there for years and years without us realizing. But they certainly affect our behavior and decisions. Our parents’ choices, sibling dynamics, experiences in school, and learning how to socialize.

    Our relationship with our barista friend has changed. For the better, I think. She has a beautiful baby girl now. She no longer walks on her toes.

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