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.