Reflections: A review of 2017
2017 was, by many measurements, and shitty year. But a lot of good happened as well as a result of those terrible things.
In January, my my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which rattled my foundations. I have had two other family members pass away from cancer in the last 6 years, and it was difficult not to think of the worst in those first few weeks after her diagnosis. The images of what happens in the end stage of cancer flashed through my mind nearly constantly. While I attempted to retain an outward composure of resilience and positivity, inside I was terrified and close to tears at any moment.
My mom and I have always been very very close. She was a single mother throughout my early childhood, and I was an only child until I was 12. Even as an adult, our relationship has hovered between mother-daughter and Best Friends. We tell each other everything, share clothes, and support each other through thick and thin. While I couldn't go through exactly what she would be facing throughout her treatment, I would be there every step of the way.
Luckily, the cancer was caught incredibly early, which is half the battle in treatment and recovery. Her oncologist was brilliant, and so optimistic that she even used the word “cure” in one of the early consultations. This did not undermine the difficulties of treatment that faced my mother, but those critical first few weeks made me feel that this was a storm we could possibly make it through.
Two weeks after my mother was diagnosed the unthinkable happened and my maternal grandmother, very suddenly and unexpectedly, passed away. Its hard to wrap your mind around two tragedies occurring within such close proximity. I still can’t really wrap my mind around it. I basically had what I can only describe and a complete emotional collapse. My bandwidth for processing sorrow, grief, anxiety, anger, and basically any other emotion was completely spent. It felt like months that I would leave work early to come home when no one else was around to just sit and cry by myself. Those were days where where I was shaking so uncontrollably that I could barely drive home. It felt like there was so much grief and stress welling up inside that I would no longer contain it all and it just burst out of me in seemingly endless waves.
Those first few months of last year were a blur and I am in awe of my mother. While I did everything I could to support her, I don’t think that she knows just how much she was supporting me too. She remained utterly positive, determined, and optimistic throughout the whole of her treatment and my grandmother’s passing. If she had any doubts about the success of her treatment, or grief over the difficulty of her situation, she did not show it. That composure was uplifting enough to float me through the worst of my own grief and I’ll never be able to express my depth gratitude for that.
My mother made it through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. In June she was declared cancer free and is on the other side of all of this. These two events have brought me closer to my family, my mother and my grandfather especially. I’m looking forward to the year to come and the new happy memories I will get to make with them.
A poem was given to me by someone very dear to my heart when I was very young. It is posted in the mirror of my room and I never thought much of it, other than it was given to me by someone I love and therefor was special. A few weeks after my grandmother passed, something came over me to take the poem from where it had been posted for years without acknowledgment, and read it.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every day is a new Arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep up your house
empty all of it's furniture,
still, treat each quest honorably.
He or She may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The Dark thought, the shame,
Meet them at the door, laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
This poem reminded me that every hardship brings a renewed appreciation for that which I can be thankful for and that bad times can only make the good times better! 2018 will be a year of new beginnings. A do over, if you will, and it kind of feels like 2017 just doesn't count. There is no use dwelling on the past, as there is nothing we can do to change it. All I have is what is ahead of me and only I have the ability to make my future brighter than my past.