Yesterday, I went out on a run, alone, bundled up and glad for some time to think.
I ran my best mile in a year, according to my Nike app. Then I ran another. I kept going and nothing hurt. I listened to an album I've had on repeat for two months straight. Then I listened to it again.
I wanted to get home, but kept buying myself time. It struck me that I'd spent the morning fussing over my daughter who wasn't feeling well. We'd sat side by side. I would write words on a drawing pad. She would trace.
She gets that words spell "something". Over and over, I wrote her name. She'd trace it. At one point, I absentmindedly responded to her request to write my name. I wrote: "Taryn".
Ginger didn't like that and immediately responded tantrum-like (and sickly feeling): "that's not your name, mommy," she screeched." IT'S MOMMY."
I'd pissed her off and she was right. To her, I am mommy. (I also have a number of nicknames.)
The hardest part of cancer right now is balancing being a mom, a full-time working professional and being a daughter. I constantly feel guilty and wonder where the room for improvement might be. I'm utterly Type-A, a perfectionist always a bit underwhelmed with the results because I know it could be better with more time, more thought, more revision. I don't know when to turn it off or when the boundary bent itself so I could cut myself slack. I make the wrong decisions in my personal life because I can't make them in my professional life. But is that right? Some days, I get it all wrong and others I get it right.
Even without cancer in the equation, the person who resets my clock is my mom. I call her to bitch. I call her to vent. She listens. She's good at that, you know.
While my life is wildly different than hers, especially today, she always knows the next right turn I should take. So when I try to fill in if she's not feeling good, I never know if I'm angling in the right direction. But a few months ago a colleague of mine told me it's okay to be unsure of your decisions because nobody ever knows what they're doing all the time. Is that the secret, coupled with decent priorities?
Anyway, I missed my mom this week a lot. The good news is that she's feeling okay and her vitals are stable. Her hair is growing back into a cute buzz cut, all grey. My dad is feeling healthy and yesterday he was making her wooden hearts to replace her front-porch Christmas trees. It almost feels normal. A normal cancer life.
I'll wrap this up with a little bitty shout out to a special friend down in Houston who is living her own normal cancer life and truly fighting like a boss. She fights like my mom and leaves no stone unturned, finding and taking every chance and option there might be.
This week, she got some shitty news, yet reached out, reminding me of this cancer journey we've had in parallel lives. She mentioned yellow Fridays and I remembered how we'd get yellow manicures and wear the yellow on Friday for my mom, and we've lost sight of those because... I don't know why. I guess because I was afraid there wasn't a fight anymore, but I am wrong about that. There's a really important fight we have to engage in, and it's every day, all the time, every second. I guess it's the normal of living a cancer life. That's what our life is, for far too many of us. So I hope that we can bring the yellow back. Can we?