I'm amazed at how much less energy I have. I have things to do, things I want and need to do, and yet...there's a lack of oomph! It's a very good thing I cut back my commitments early, before I disappointed someone or let someone down.
I'm feeling very blessed today with friends who care, and who show it in such concrete ways. One friend has become my Friday night delivery service--pasta salad, sushi, butter chicken, whatever my taste buds crave, she brings to me on Friday night and just drops it off. Another pair of friends have permanently loaned me a portable dishwasher. This is a blessing on many levels--I can be sure the dishes are clean (important with the higher risk of infection from chemotherapy), it cuts down on what I have to do around the house, and it just may save my hands, as I tend to have dry hands in the winter anyway (even using rubber gloves for dishes, etc.) and the chemo makes that worse. A few flowers are still hanging on from the arrangement sent by a community organisation that I was active in, but have had to cut back on. My sister sent me a lovely Irish shawl, usable as throw or wrap--she chose the colour, she said, because she thought it would be pretty with my eyes...which are about my only feature that hasn't changed! I was able to participate in Strong Heart's ordination earlier this month--complete with hair! Those photos remind me of her strength and support--she's working some of my hours for me at the other church so I don't fall too far behind, not to mention the tremendous gift of her love, presence and support. Yet another couple have given me an extra TV, so I can set up a TV room upstairs for when I don't even feel up to the stairs. Several people brought hats and scarves for me to the Sinead O'Connor party, ensuring I have quite the hat wardrobe! Other friends have sent cards, thoughtful messages of hope and prayers. My mother brought books and magazines, and the special chewing gum for dry mouth that is such a godsend. My neighbours in the Little Yellow House put out my recycle bins for me, have me over for dinner, and just generally keep an eye out for me. I am surrounded by love and support, and blessed by so many caring people.
I'm doing what I can for the holidays. I've narrowed my usual baking frenzy to three cookie recipes--chocolate chip (because I love them so much), Mexican wedding cakes (because they're traditional for Christmas in my family) and sugar cookies (because I cannot imagine Christmas without them). Last night, I brought down the Christmas decorations and began putting them up. I'd like to do the tree today...we'll see if my energy holds up, I really want to do the cookies and get ahead on the sermon for next week. But even with just some of the decorations out, it's feeling festive--stockings hung on the knobs of the barrister bookcases (now there's an image of a geek Christmas!), the wreath on the door, the Advent calendar, the Christmas mugs in the cupboard, the pine cone and candle runner on the dining room table...Definitely feeling more in the season!
And what a constrast from last year! Then I was beginning to feel a bit desperate, trying to adjust to two jobs and a border crossing every day (two crossings, actually), looking for a roommate (and what a disaster THAT turned into), feeling quite alone as I faced Christmas as a single person for the first time in thirty years. I felt lonely, overwhelmed and sad. And yet I had my health, I did have work, I had many friends, I was doing work I loved, I had a roof over my head and a full cupboard, and I had a loving family to go to on Christmas.
This year, two things have changed. For one, I am no longer single, and Strong Heart is one of the greatest blessings in my life. Her love, intelligence, spiritual strength, giving heart, humour and support are a refuge for me. We share a true partnership--something very new and wonderful to me!
The other thing that has changed is, of course, my health--dealing with breast cancer and chemotherapy--but this is temporary. My oncologist said, "By spring, this will be behind you." Well, it will never be completely behind me, but the worst of it will be. From Christmas to Easter...
I'll keep you posted!