I woke up early this morning. Well, early for me. I have my first oncology appointment today, and as usual, my nerves were in overdrive. It was two hours earlier than I'd planned to get up but I knew I'd never get back to sleep the way my belly was churning. So I got up, took a look out the window. The sky was a brilliant blue back ground for the changing leaves. There was dew on the grass. I opened the window to a refreshingly chilly breeze. And music.
At first I could barely hear it, but within minutes it was as if they were right outside my window. The south side high school marching band was practicing in the street a few blocks away. I realized that there's a parade tonight. How could I forget that? It's my mom's absolute favorite, one she waits for all year. Before I went on the night shift, we would go together.
The marching band went into the school fight song, and it was like I was stepping back in time. I remember every detail: how wonderfully cool the air felt in the mornings, our band director, now retired, standing at the side of the road calling out anyone who wasn't in step. The awful polyester uniforms complete with tall, heavy, tasseled hats and spats. The cute blond boy who marched right in front of me. The young mothers on our practice route bringing their little ones out to watch. The excitement on parade day. In the days leading up to the parade, the band director would have everyone excused from their third period classes so we could practice longer. I used to get so mad - third period for me was study hall. I would much rather have skipped gym.
Listening to them, I started thinking, "If I could go back, knowing what I know now..." but really, what then? Say I did go back and talk to the flute playing freshman that was me. What, exactly, would I tell her? Live the next 27 years in fear because, honey, you will be getting breast cancer? Or how about, forget all your responsibilities and just have fun cause later, you'll have no time to just play? Um, no.
The thing is, even with this damn cancer that fills my mind with unsettling thoughts, wakes me in a cold sweat, and consumes my day with phone calls to insurance companies, doctor visits, and fear, I have a great life. I have a circle of friends who love me and are cheering for me every step of the way. I have a family who looks out for me, making us dinners and helping around the house and sitting in the hospital waiting for me to wake up from surgery so they can help me to the car and take me home. I have coworkers who send me cards and emails letting me know they miss me and are sending prayers. I have no doubt that by the time the snow flies, and my cancer treatment is obvious, I have neighbors who will shovel our driveway and take the garbage cans to the street. I have Walker who has been right at my side for every last step of this journey, despite his insane work schedule and his own fear.
Sure I wish I had never gotten cancer, but it's here, we're handling it, and soon it will be something I look back on, just another memory.