I’ve never been one to celebrate the New Year on January 1st. I’ve always considered September to be the beginning of the new year. I think it’s because when I was small, the school year started in September. There was always a new dress or two, new shoes, notebooks with white, empty pages, colorful pens and pencils. There were also new teachers, new things to learn and of course, new friends.
But this year is completely different. To say that 2010 was a difficult year is an understatement, and I look forward to its passing. But, it has also been one of the best years of my life!
We decided to sell our home of 10 years, buy another, much smaller. My brother, diagnosed with cancer two years ago, started going down hill in the spring and died on June 1st, the same day we closed on our new house. We moved several days later, then rushed up to New England for his memorial service.
A week or so after we got back, our small city was hit by a 5 minute microburst that left many neighborhoods, including our own, looking like war zones. We were fortunate in that we had only minor damage, but there was severe damage all over the city with roofs torn off and many homes hit directly by large, once stately trees. The trauma of the event was held by most of us for months. The sound of chain saws filled hot summer days.
In July we signed a contract to sell our old house and were excited that the buyer wanted to pay cash and to close by the end of August. He never showed up for the closing and we are now in the throes of going to court so that we can retrieve the deposit and the money we’ve spent on maintenance, from the closing date until a verdict is brought forth. In the meantime the housing market in the area has tanked big time. It had been holding it’s own, but at the beginning of summer, what was happening all over the country caught up with us. It doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better. The house is still on the market, but activity is very slow, especially at this time of year.
At the end of August I had a PAP test which showed abnormal cells in my uterus. In early September a D&C delivered the verdict that I had uterine cancer. I was exhausted from the stress of moving, my brother’s death and the need to keep myself from drowning in my own anxiety. In mid-October I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy … the ultimate purge. In the hospital one day, out the next, the cancer was gone and so were my reproductive organs. All of my doctors assure me, that if you must have cancer, this is the one to get. I still have to be checked out every 3 to 4 months for a year or two and there is 2% chance that it could return. But, that’s a 98% chance that it will never revisit!
Along with all the difficulty, 2010 turned into a stupendously good year. Deep sadness has become mixed with many blessings. My brother is finally at peace. We are living in a wonderful new home and the surgery, with the best possible outcome, has left me feeling more alive and energetic than I’ve been in years. My recovery was fast and I’ve learned that just staying at home and creating is what my heart desires. I’ve made my life much more spacious, with fewer distractions. The never-ending have-to-do list, is a thing of the past. I am learning to live deliberately and slowly.
I watched my mother and brother fighting the reality of death, not gaining the end-of-life peace I had hoped they’d find. After my diagnosis and initial series of end-of-the-world scenarios, I realized that I didn’t want to go there. I have come to believe that my cancer was a gift, teaching me to be present in each and every moment, good or bad. I feel that if I were to die today or 10 years from now, I have been given an opportunity to make a difference in the world in my own, small way, knowing that bringing love and happiness to the world is what my work is all about.
To all of you, friends and family, I wish a Happy New Year filled with the gifts of health, love and peace. I am endlessly grateful to you all!