It’s often said it’s the little things in life that bring the most happiness.
I think as a patient I have become hyper-sensitive to those little happy moments. They feel very much like small victories against my cancer. They are a reserve of memories to draw on when you get bad days.
Equally if you dare to hope, you can be paralyzed by the fear that you won’t get many more.
This morning I had one such happy occasion. It began with a very robust shout to “get out of bed”. I had a Mam job to do for my daughter. It could seem like a very ordinary mundane request to anyone who’s looking on. But to me it was one of those golden little memories to be treasured. Hopefully it will be for her someday too.
About this time three years ago, I didn’t realise it but my life was about to change dramatically. I was barely functioning at the time, but determined to go on until I could no longer go on. Mam’s beware if your body is sending you signals listen to it!! Don’t try to be a martyr. I was dragging myself around in denial trying to carry on as normal.
I ended up in hospital gravely ill and diagnosed with a reoccurrence of my Melanoma from more than ten years previously. This time thought instead of a little innocuous mole the cells had spread and multiplied all over my body invading my very existence. I was in big trouble. Luckily though I was started on a treatment that worked quickly but with zero guarantees.
My daughter was due to sit her state exams that June, I wondered if I’d make it that far. The uncertainty was realistic and I could certainly feel it. I felt at times like a swan, seemingly calm on the surface but paddling away furiously underneath. My most pressing concern was keeping everything calm and normal so all the hard work she had put in to her study wouldn’t be demolished by my illness. I wasn’t feeling very well as she started her exams, she fell down the stairs and had a broken ankle. Talk about a calamity, we laughed as we waited the six hours to be seen in A &E, at least it wasn’t her wrist. Always a silver lining.
We got through the first week, she really needed me and I was so glad I was still there to ferry her forward and back, the bus now out of the question. Putting thoughts out of my head about what it would be like if I hadn’t made it that far……
On the second week of exams I got admitted to hospital. I was relieved she was almost done but I still felt guilt at not being able to see it out with her.
She did wonderfully well and got her first choice of Primary teaching, there was never a plan b for her no matter how much the guidance counsellor pleaded. “No” she would say determined to reach her goal. I love her for that grit and many other reasons too.
On the evening we dropped her to College there was a parent’s reception. It was a huge auditorium full of anxious firstimer, new to the game parents. The gist of the presentations were, its time to let go, its time for your child to take responsibility for their future. There is no point ringing to see how little or much they are doing because you won’t be told. It’s time for them to sink or swim.
I was glad, I had gotten this far as I sat there I felt a great sense of relief and I knew in my heart she would be OK. I wasn’t prepared though for the sucker punch closing statement from the president “the next time you see us will be in four years time at your childs graduation”. I wasn’t prepared for how much of an eternity that felt with melanoma circling my organs waiting for its chance to take me out. I wanted so much to cry, but I couldn’t make a scene. This wasn’t about me.
This morning when she shouted to me “to get out of bed”, I felt such an immense sense of pride. I was dropping her to the same school gate I brought her at in a little grey uniform with a Disney character school bag on her very first day of school. This time though she is the teacher not the pupil. I told her how proud I felt as she left the car, I got the eye roll, but also a smile.
She’s not qualified yet, we have one more year to go, I never know what’s going to happen with this bloody disease but today at least it didn’t get to rob us of one of those little happy memories, that a parent and child should treasure. I know I will……..