As we settle down for the night, Joe is preparing for the start tomorrow of his final cycle of chemo in this great battle he's been waging against lymphoma. It's hard to believe that the last cycle of 6 is finally upon us. By sometime toward the end of January, Joe should start feeling better and better. Wonderful to know that he won't feel better just to get knocked down again by another round of chemo, you know?
This last cycle hasn't been particularly easy. It kind of snuck up on us how hard this is and we keep being surprised by how winded or tired or weak Joe feels. It's still, even after four full months of living with it, so hard to understand any of it, but really, I suppose it doesn't matter that much whether we understand, as long as we survive.
We've been so buoyed and cheered by so many loving people through this entire experience. My list of Good Things About Cancer/Chemo is damn short, but #1 on that list is this ever-expanding, never-flagging support that's come at us from every direction. We will always be grateful for this.
In a way this exhilarated, dazzled, almost-vibrating feeling of connection, of being part of a great and loving whole, really hit me first at our anniversary party in June. That was such a great night! The next morning, I remember Joe and I kept looking at each other, just stunned by how lucky we were to have such terrific people in our lives. And so many of them! I know I felt drunk in love with our life, with our friends, with Joe. After twenty years together, that felt so good.
Not too long after the party, when we knew something serious was wrong with Joe but we weren't sure what, I was terrified. Had I been too happy, was it hubris, were we only going to get 20 years together? Those were terrible dark days for us, as we tried to keep it together until we knew something, until we had a name for the shadow that had entered our lives. It seems almost melodramatic with the benefit of hindsight, but really, that's how it was.
But as soon as we told, let people in on what was going on with Joe, there it was again, stronger than ever: Love, from all sides, powerful, unstoppable. Everyone came out to help us: old friends, new friends, snow friends, bee friends, neighbors, colleagues, even yoga friends of mine who'd never even met Joe showed up with food out of sheer love. Dazzled by all of you: that's what we are.
One more cycle, people, then Joe says he's giving chemo up cold turkey as his resolution for 2010. May we all enjoy good health this year, the better to love each other for a long, long time to come.