It’s the holiday season, and Santa Claus is coming ‘round… so begin the lyrics to a very cheerful Christmas song, about Santa helping us celebrate the holidays. But sitting here, in a borrowed house because my family is quarantined due to breakthrough COVID and I can’t be with them, with sunlight streaming through the window onto the artificial hyacinth, I’m feeling anything but cheer. I just checked my emails and found an email I didn’t want to get. Not totally unexpected, but still a gut punch. Another beautiful young soul, taken too soon. Across my table is a stack of letters I’m collecting for my friends, who just found their 50-something mom’s MRI showed new spots in her brain cancer. My friend texted me the news last week, the same day nine years ago that I also found new cancer spots in a CT scan.
This holiday season is rough. The only Christmas party I’ve attended this year was Saturday, at the home of a couple I met through my cancer support group at church and was attended by many I’ve connected with because of cancer. Will I ever escape from its far-reaching tentacles?
The holidays are hard. January is ten years since I was first diagnosed. I bought books for Sam’s niece, while remembering she’ll never meet her incredible uncle because of this stupid disease. I came across Larry’s business card as I was packing to travel home this week; my Facebook feed reminds me of our Cancer Bash parties and the people pictured who aren’t with us anymore.
I’m not sure why I’m writing at present. There isn’t really a message or logic to these words. I think I’m writing, though, to document the memories and remember my friends who aren’t here. And to remember the Jen who is no longer here. I, as I’m sure each of you as well, could write pages about the people not with us and how much they impacted our life. And I know I’ll feel the searing pain in my heart as I see the empty spot in yet another year’s holiday card.
It’s ok. The lyrics from the fabulous Nightbirde song are dancing through my head.
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and it’s alright
I’m lost. I think a part of me will always be lost. Lost in the happy memories of friends gone. Lost in the missed future memories to make. Lost in the grief of who I once was and what my life was supposed to be. Lost in the limitations of my cancer-ravaged body now.
But it’s alright. Maybe not at this minute, but it will be.