It started with a song… I’ve been listening to Snow Patrol a lot the past few days. Chasing Cars to be exact. It’s one of those songs I listen to when things aren’t quite ‘normal’ in my life. I’ve been quite scared the past few weeks and just wishing for a wee bit of normal in my life. I’ve been avoiding things lately, shutting down because I’m too scared to admit my fears to myself, let alone someone else. Which brings me to this blog …
Just act normal. I’ve been trying to pull that off for about 8 years now. I just can’t seem to grasp this ‘normal’ act. With me, it’s always something… abnormal? Weird? Strange? Quirky? Any and all of the above adjectives would be a fitting description of my life; anything but normal! In my recent past, I’ve had to deal with a number of situations that threw ‘normal’ right out the window.
First there was the loss of my son, in a car accident in which I was the driver. No one knows how to react to that, it isn’t ‘normal’ to lose a child. The circumstances of the accident made it difficult for me to accept, it still does. It’s something I don’t generally bring up, but it is always there, even eight years later. The need, the want, the desire to see him, to hold him and assure myself that he is okay… this is normal for me.
A few months after the accident, I was diagnosed with cancer, and I know there is nothing ‘normal’ about that! I generally don’t talk about this either, although I do get a lot of curious comments and questions from people because of it. It usually goes something like this:
“You’re so pale.” Yes, I am… as I secretly apply lipstick so I have some color.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Of course, just tired!
“Are you dying?” No, I’m living.
“Don’t you ever want to just give up?” No, not really… well, maybe sometimes, yes I do.
“Aren’t you afraid of dying?” No, I’m afraid of missing the people I love… dying is the easy part.
“You’re so strong, how do you do it?” I’m not strong, I’m scared, all of the time.
The list goes on. I find the questions disconcerting, and anything but normal! However, I do respond, most of the time, hoping that an answer will stop the questions and everything will be ‘normal’… even though I just want to hide.
I’ve become friends with a few very special people over the past few years. I value these friendships more than I can say; they help me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They know me better than I know myself some days. They are my jewels, my sunshine, and my stars. They always help me to put things in perspective. Even when I let my fears take over and hide inside myself, they are there to make me smile with a joke or a song, a silly picture or sometimes just a hello.
To be honest, there are many times when I pull away, the fear builds up and I am drowning. I hate myself for this, but it is the only way I can prevent them from knowing how scared I really am. I read articles and statistics over and over these days, trying to make some sense of my world. Fatigue has settled into my bones as I read through the statistics that bring hope and fear simultaneously. Normal? Probably not!
The facts, just the facts…
Facts about Leukemia
Fact: Leukemia is the 10th most frequently occurring type of cancer in all races or ethnicities.
Fact: Approximately every three minutes a person is diagnosed with Leukemia.
Fact: Approximately every ten minutes a person dies from Leukemia.
Fact: One third of Leukemia patients are children under the age of fifteen.
Fact: Leukemia is responsible for approximately 9.5% of total cancer deaths
Fact: It is the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths in men and the 7th leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
Fact: The Greeks were said to recognize Leukemia during the 5th century
Fact: The overall five-year relative survival rate (people living with, or in remission from Leukaemia) has more than quadrupled since 1960 from 14% to more than 59% this year.
Statistics or facts can be daunting, especially when applied to life and death. However, they also bring with them perspective, no matter how scary this viewpoint might be. In some way, these numbers can be comforting, just not as comforting as a friend telling you you’re an idiot for hiding or being scared! I’m grateful for these friends of mine, somehow they know when to reach out, even when I’m being a brat or feeling sorry for myself. So, tomorrow is another day I’ll try and be normal, and as I go through the next few weeks of a new treatment, thank you my friends for being there to help me forget my world.
To the shining stars in my life, I leave you with this…
I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
It started with a song…