Today is the beginning of the next chapter.
Steve and I head in to the hospital to meet with my cancer team: a social worker, a swallow team (they are taking a baseline of my swallowing today, as it will deteriorate as treatment progresses and they want to ensure I can maintain my baseline as much as possible), the radiology and chemotherapy doctors.
Today is a 'dry run' - they want to be sure my immobilization mask fits, that the machine is calibrated, that all is in working order. They will do everything but push the button to start radiation. That will be tomorrow.
I looked at Steve yesterday, bewildered, and said, "I start cancer treatments tomorrow, Christmas is in four days, the kids' schedules are nuts, we have a new sitter starting, and I still have orders to finish and last minute shopping to do. Why aren't I totally crazy right now?"
He grinned at me. "I don't know," he said. "But I'm grateful you're not."
I think it's partly because a cancer diagnosis puts things into perspective. All the little things I would have been freaking out about last year - those infuriating little details that strangle you as Christmas approaches - they just don't seem very important this year.
I also think I'm calm because it feels so much better to be calm. My good friend Ann designed a necklace for herself, one that reminds her to go with the flow. It was a simple stamped rectangle that said "downstream". I loved it so much I made one for myself, and I added a soothing aquamarine crystal and a Yin Yang charm. I'm wearing it today, as I hold my chin up and march towards this next chapter of my life.
Downstream reminds me to pick my feet up and let the current take me where I'm meant to go. It helps me stay in acceptance and surrender. That's not the same thing as giving up - not even close. It has everything to do with being present, with feeling gratitude for what is, rather than resentment for the way I wish things were.
I took a picture of myself today, at the beginning. I'm wearing the 'downstream' necklace, and I will keep its message close to my heart. I am determined, I am hopeful. I am also tired. And it's all okay.
It's just the beginning of the next thing. There will be many more next things, many more beginnings.