Sunday, May 18, 2014

That Time of Year

I love summer in Ann Arbor. The weather finally turns warm, I plan the garden, festival season kicks off, and all my favorite annual events roll around again.

This time of year is now also a minefield of poignant memories.

I remember counting down the days last year until the end of my semester, willing myself to make it through that last final, that last presentation, and that last tour performance. I was not overwhelmed by the workload - it was a lot, but I thrived in that environment - for some reason, though, I was totally and utterly exhausted. I had been fighting off recurring chest colds for months, and I just couldn't get ahead of them. I remember giving my research project presentation and having to stop and catch my breath. Just standing and talking had me winded. I slept for a week after exams, and somehow it didn't feel any better....

Today we drove past Picnic Pops, an annual outdoor festival of local high school and junior high bands, and I said to Jason, "Oh! We went to that last year!" And then the memories flooded back. Getting out of breath walking around, struggling to carry the girls, ordering a big cup of coffee despite the heat because my "asthma" was terrible and I though a big jolt of caffeine might help.

I remember talking to my mom on her birthday and discussing how my doctor might try a course of steroids to try to get this asthma under control.

The awesome neighborhood bash Burgers on Bellwood is coming up soon, and I remember that Jason took the kids by himself last year, because by then I had been diagnosed and I was so short of breath that doing much beyond sitting on the couch was a huge effort. (The lovely hosts sent him home with a plate of food for me.) We both thought about but didn't talk about how he better get used to taking the little ones everywhere by himself.

I remember missing Zander's preschool end-of-year assembly because I was having a brain scan.

And I remember leaving the garden completely untouched, to be covered by the fall leaves, then the winter snow. When it started to melt this year, we stood there staring at it, an image frozen in time that was such an accurate representation of how we felt frozen in those early days. We were in a holding pattern, in crisis mode, just trying to make it through the day, make it through the night without having to go back to the ER.

And now thankfully, amazingly, we are dreaming about the future. Still cautiously and with contingency plans, but dreaming nonetheless.

Every day I breathe, everyday I think, I am alive! And that is something wonderful.

6 comments:

grayconnections said...

Cancerversaries are so loaded with memories. I'm glad this one is hopeful for you! May we both have many more hopeful moments.
Janet

Lisa Bowes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

I'm still measuring my cancerversaries in weeks and days, but your post gives me hope that at some point I'll be able to truly plan for the future, instead of engaging in hopeful thinking.

Tori Tomalia said...

Thank you, Janet. Yes, many more for both of us!

Tori Tomalia said...

Really it is just hopeful thinking for all of us. No one can really plan for the future, but only those of us on these crummy paths really understand this daunting truth. I have gradually been able to stretch out my vision from getting through today, then thinking about next week, and now daring to dream even further out. But I do know that it can all suddenly disappear.

Good luck to you. I hope you are able to think into the future again, and to live out those dreams!

Su Lim said...

Hi Tori!

My name is Su Hyun Lim and I am a high school student in Winnipeg who is currently interning with an organization called RGI provided from Shad Valley.

As part of internship, interns were asked to research about the topic of cancer. In addition to that, as part of the understanding of the disease, we were assigned to interview current cancer patients and/or survivors to understand the disease from people who have the first-hand experience and knowledge until this Thursday. We want to find out about what the major problem that the disease brings that may be significant, but unaddressed as well as other problems that the cancer patients face.

If you would be able to help me and my group by doing an interview with us, we would really appreciate it. The interview is very flexible. It will not be long (For sure less then 30 minutes). In addition to that, we can arrange it in many forms. It could be over the phone, questionaire on internet, chat, and email etc. I know that this is a short notice, but we would like to start conducting interviews today or tomorrow. If you need any further information or if you have any questions, I would be very happy to answer.

Thanks for all your help and considerations!

Su Hyun Lim

My email is suzyq14120@gmail.com if you are interested!