An Open Letter to 2015

Subject: An Open Letter to 2015
From: Deb
Date: 1 Jan 2016

~ An Open Letter to 2015 ~
Dear 2015:
One word could sum you up: change.
To some, change is hard. Many abhor it. Fear it. Dread it. To others, change is good. They embrace it. Demand it. Push for it. Plan for it. Cause it.
Change is an entity on its own. It can not be roped, wrestled, stopped, or put in a box. It is thrust upon us without pausing to ask our permission.
You started off so bright! My hopeful and joyful post on January 1st:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! Here's to a beautiful 2015!!! Lots of big dreams & plans for the year!!! Go get it!!!!! Go GET IT!!!!

I mean – I had PLANS for you! Plans for changes I was looking forward to – that I was driving toward! There were going to be muscles built and record setting weights lifted! The boxing gloves were going to make an appearance after a shoulder finally had healed! Financial planning was on the horizon. Trips and tickets to stalk the hotties of the PGA tour were on the books. Camping and tubing gear was raring to go again! There were weddings to attend, new babies to welcome, milestone birthdays to celebrate. We were gonna do big things, you and me!

January brought my first warm weather vacation destination for Sharon’s birthday. Oh, how we laughed and played in that beautiful Pacific! New friends were made and shirttail relatives were met alongside a new resolve to embrace and finally accept and appreciate myself: “Self loathing is left at the pool!”! This new mantra carried over to so many facets of my life. It was new territory to appreciate the many layers of me. Just as I am, yet striving to better myself and be my best self in all things. Not by someone else’s measure or someone else’s example. Me for me was enough and rather than be a dark and negative critic, I was becoming a positive coach to myself. The mean and dark tapes playing on repeat all these years were getting quieter. This was a good change.

Valentine’s Day sweets, orchestra hall visits, & hockey games of February; an old friend’s beautiful wedding and the return to the heavy bag at the boxing gym in March, quickly turned the calendar to the blessed hope of an early April Easter season. I must have missed the bitterness in the spring winds that warned of the dark days to come. Another change.

I’ve never been a hypochondriac but I’ve always been pretty attuned to my self and my health. The unnerving discovery that Saturday night planted a firm seed of ‘just knowing’ one of women’s greatest fears . An ocean was shrunk when a dear friend of a foreign land held my secret fear I hoped would be laughed off as just another growing old scare. A deep and dark song tracing back to deep and dark depression of college days suddenly came to mind but now the words meant something entirely different. It was kind of weird, wasn’t it, how I could see the growth and completely different person I’d become since the days when that song was for someone so dark and down. It was good to see the healthy change. Yet, at the same time, there was again a darkness in the interpretation of the lyrics, but a completely different kind of darkness. Odd, how that can be – a different kind of darkness. I guess it just shows another example of change – healthy and good change. Yet….still a trace of darkness and fear.

There are two songs that I attach to this journey you’ve taken me on, 2015. Both of which speak to me, of me, FOR me. One being that dark, depressive song from the deepest and darkest and most fearful of places. The other being a bold declaration to prod me on, to dig my heels in and make and take a stand against this uninvited inhabitant and the unrecognizeable path it has set me on.

Oh, year of the Ram, how you’ve tormented me. Was it fun for you? Did you laugh as you saw my mind overcome with confusion and forgetfulness? When were you going to remind me of why I was sitting at that stoplight and what errand I was trying to check off a list? I used to be so organized and multi-tasking and had a kind of mental schedule I kept in my head. All of that’s gone now. I’m a bumbling, forgetful fool who can’t keep anything straight and can’t even think of simple words or how to spell or what I had for lunch today.

How about when my sister held me tight after that first mammogram and ultrasound as we both trembled with fear of this unknown. And speaking of firsts - did you especially enjoy the gifts of firsts you brought to me? Like: first mammogram, or first biopsy (why not make it 4 while we’re at it, huh?!), or the time I first heard the utterance of “nipple tattoos” and the subsequent rage that ensued after that informative phonecall? And don’t forget the first time I finally looked at my cut up and mutilated self. That must’ve been a real kicker for you!

You hurt me, 2015. You kept secrets for so long. When did you know? How long had you and 2014 or even 2010 been keeping this dirty little secret? Why did the springtime seem the right time to tell all? Why couldn’t that week just be another chapter in the storied history of Augusta and let it play out with the Team Spieth win and not ever include the utterance of “suspicious” or “biopsy” and 20-minute icepacks?

You’ve been a year of darkness. Since April, it has been so dark, even when the sun shines. Days all look and feel the same. These walls have been suffocating. The hallways and walking path must have ruts in by now. I think my butt imprint is permanently planted on the recliner or patio chair. I’ve memorized every car in the parking lot, every blade of grass, and the timing of the garbage trucks. All useless, mindless rubbish in my overloaded mind.

To be fair, though you yourself are not, I must say you have given me positive, beautiful things as well. I’ve found courage and strength and bravery I never knew I possessed. I finally saw myself as beautiful and was proud of the dedication and efforts I’d put forth in the gyms. I saw myself as beautiful! That was a good change.

After surgery, it seemed the only gains were the tiny baby step improvements in my range of motion when I could finally comb my hair by myself in July. Or when I could dress myself again. I think you’ve completely converted me to a left hand wipe now, by the way. ;)

I have gotten an education. I mean, a full-blown master’s degree in humanity, in life, in perspective; in breast cancer, in support groups; in insurance, in short term disability; in thankfulness, in weakness and strength, highs and lows; in narcotics and stool softeners. I’ve gained new true friends, new role models and mentors. You’ve given me new hopes, new dreams, new focus and a burning desire to turn this ugly nightmare into a positive outreach to others facing those same horrifying words.

Though I knew she was strong and the best nurse out there, you have shown my little sister to be a mighty pillar of strength to this big sister and, truly, the entire family. She has stood by my side and seen the worst of our fears come into this house. She has nursed me and cared for me when I couldn’t even put on my socks. She always has been my best friend but this year has brought us that much closer. “It’s you and me against the world!” So true. So true.

You brought an old and dear great friend even closer as her words of wisdom kept coaching me through this journey. (Why does she have to be right all the time, though??) ;)

You did allow for a small bit of peace and rest in the beauty of your Fall and the completion of bi-weekly saline fills. And almost “normal” life, though I don’t really know what “normal” is anymore. I’ll never know it again.

You’ve brought me to grace and thanksgiving where once there was bitterness and anger at the news your April delivered. I have far to go and much more ahead of me but I close this year with at least a glimmer of the light that is usually so familiar to me and what started off the year. You have always given me hope. That is rooted in my core and though it’s been shaken, has always remained.

And so I bid you adieu, 2015. It’s been more real than I could have ever dreamed. It has not been fun. Fun is not how I’ll remember 2015. No offense, but you’ve been a real Debbie Downer. I look forward to another change in 2016….