I'm present, I'm doing all the same things I always did, but everything feels different. I'm struggling to find the words to explain it.
I have turned into an observer of the world, much more so than I ever was. I exist here in my in-between space and I watch. And I listen.
I watch the tired looking father snap at his two young girls to just hurry up already as they take their time, asking a million questions at once, getting out of the car at the post office.
I listen to the moms I don't know gossip about another women on the soccer side lines. It's the worst kind of gossip - she's put on weight hasn't she, what was she thinking wearing that outfit. She's not twenty anymore.
I observe my all-too-grown-up nine year old, as she gets herself up in the morning, gets dressed, fixes her own breakfast, packs her own lunch, and calmly reminds me of several upcoming school events I need to be ready for.
She has become so independent in the last six months. She looks like a stranger to me in many ways; I can't believe she's mine.
I listen to a woman as she cries to me, spilling her heart out because she just cannot stop drinking, no matter what she has tried. I tell her what worked for me, offer advice and a huge hug, but I still feel like I'm observing all of this from above, from a place of other.
I wonder if this is normal? If other people who have had life threatening illnesses or injuries feel this way once they know they are out of the woods, at least for a while?
It's like nothing - and I mean nothing - can touch me, make me irritated or angry or short. I'm just so grateful to be here.
I have noticed, though, that other emotions are very raw, very real, and they do not exist in the in-between space. I have been missing my Dad a lot these days. For those of you who are new to this blog, this is what happened last June. I've been talking to my Dad a lot through the cancer. Praying to him, missing him, asking for whatever help he can give me from above. I want to wrap my arms around him so badly it hurts. It physically hurts.
I look at my husband with new eyes. I am so grateful I married a strong, loyal man like him. You know so little when you pick your mate, you know? I was all of 25 when I fell in love with him. We are very different people. We almost didn't make it, during my drinking, but then we did. He has been a rock for me, a calming, level-headed and loving presence. I know he was scared, we all were, but he just loved me, hugged me hard and gave me faith that we would make it through.
I think of my mother, dutifully showing up nearly everyday for radiation or chemo appointments, calmly knitting, asking the questions I was too shell-shocked to ask, folding my laundry, playing with my children. It felt like every time I looked up, there she was. How lucky am I?
I guess what all this means is that the trivial stuff has simply dropped away. Every day feels like such a gift, and I hope I can hang on to that. I went to the grocery store for the first time yesterday, just to pick up a few things, and I literally stood and blinked with wonder: I'm shopping, just like everyone else. I'm on the other side of the bad stuff.
Lastly, I tried to take a pic of me at the end of the journey. I took this one at the very beginning, last fall:
And I took this one today:
(If you look closely you can see my bad-ass scar on the left side of my neck.)
I miss my hair. It all fell out from my ears down in the back, because of the radiation, and really thinned everywhere else. So I have to wear my hair in this silly little ponytail while I wait for it to grow out. And grow it will. I lost forty pounds since December, and am a weight I haven't been since junior high. I will likely put a few pounds on as I can eat more foods, but I kind of like me at this weight. I feel healthier and look better.
And MAN, am I happier.
I'm in the moment. All the time. And it feels really good.