It’s been a year.
I started the year with ulcers down my throat, my tongue swollen , a rash all over my body, and soon ended up in the hospital. They took a biopsy from my leg, as they were afraid I had a disease called Stephen Johnson syndrome which would kill me.
Turns out, it was a chemo overdose.
And that, my friends, is how 2020 began.
I should have known.
On March 12 I told my principals I would not come in again. There was a disease that may close our schools, and I couldn’t chance it. It didn’t matter, as schools closed the next day…
For the rest of the year.
In April I was told there wasn’t anything else they could do for me chemo wise, and we put my life solely in the hands of my herbalist. We went for a blood test, it said the cancer flipped, we cried it was a miracle, and I began a new line of chemo.
And got worse.
Hospitalized again for over a week, had multiple doctors say I would die soon, cancer was all over, calcium was going to shut down my organs and began the red devil chemo again.
Lost my hair for the third time.
Had another bone biopsy from the spine. Was awake the whole time and heard the drill as it drilled into my bones.
Discovered a new chemo we could try that was just approved.
Discovered the other test in April was probably wrong.
Found out my neck was broken but couldn’t have surgery.
Started new chemo.
Set up my classroom, then emptied it and gave my room away all in one week.
Started a new job as a virtual teacher and had children from all four buildings, and was maxed out. Never worked so hard in my life.
My daughters senior year was non existent. The budget failed, and I will forever remember the people who were behind the big push to have it fail. They will never be forgiven.
They and the town know who they are.
Anyone who hurts kids… including mine…
Will always be known as such.
That’s the scorpio in me.
Lost several friends to cancer and covid.
We have been alone in the house for almost a year now.
An ugly election.
Confusion over vaccines.
It’s been a year…
And today I start the last day of 2020 once again in the hospital, getting fluids for dehydration from chemo.
How am I feeling?
Believe it or not….
Despite everything, I can still say it’s been a beautiful year.
I AM ALIVE, damnit.
Despite the ugly toxic people who voted down the budget and relished in badmouthing this district which has helped raise my children, my kids are still full of hope.
And they are better people than all of them combined.
Madison is getting scholarships because of all that Riverhead offered. Morgan is finding her little tiny tribe, person by person. Quinn is too. Some kids care more about being popular or social media or being cool. My kids care about their mom staying alive and safe, and the friends they have now wear masks and understand. The people who check in on us are the ones to keep.
I said maybe this happened to our family because other families wouldn’t have been able to handle this all. Other kids are drinking and vaping and partying with other kids, and their parents are fine with it.
They are alone most of the time, but happy because I’m still here. They’ve learned early what’s important.
As a teacher I’ve discovered that it’s possible to love children through a screen. To teach them to read without ever holding a book in their physical presence.
During hard times, you learn lessons.
But you also unlearn.
My friend Nalie wrote about that.
“Seeing is believing”.
Sometimes you have to believe first in order to see.
“Crying is a waste of time”
Crying makes space. It’s a release, then makes room for the breath.
“The more the merrier”
Sometimes less is more, and the people who you surround yourself with matter. The ones who show up will show you that you matter. Especially if they wear masks and let your children know that they respect their mom’s life too.
“It’s better to give than receive”.
You are worthy of receiving, and by allowing others to give, you give them the gift of being able to give.
“Be happy. Be this. Be that.”
Sometimes it’s ok to just be.
“It will be better when…”
Nothing is promised. So make it better now.
There may be more cancer in this body now at the end of 2020 than there was in the beginning of 2020, but there is also more of other things.
I don’t know what 2021 is going to bring. Every stage four patient wonders if this is the year that will be the year engraved on their tombstone.
I know, morbid.
But also the truth.
Yet I know this as well.
This past year, 2020, is not the year that will be engraved on my tombstone.
After several close calls when we thought it might be, 2020 will fade and gets smaller and smaller into a tiny particle…
It will become part of the dash.
The first date is the date of your birth, the day that was full of joy.
The second date is the date of death, a day full of sorrow.
But that dash, that line…is all the days in between.
Today, this year, 2020, which was so hard for so many, becomes part of that dash.
For all of us.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring,
But I’m all in.
I’ll walk out of the hospital today for the last time in 2020.
Ready to walk into 2021…
Still expecting miracles.
So friends, in 2020, some have learned to be kinder and gentler to others and ourselves…
May 2021 be kind and gentle to us all.
In Jesus’s name, amen.