A year ago — one year and a day — my beloved and I sipped red wine and ate Manchego on rice crackers in front of our Christmas tree while we crafted a list of our dreams for 2012. I’d share them with you but I’m embarrassed. Chagrined. Because almost nothing on my list came to be. A year ago I was planning to create Magical Voyages, one-woman performance art with stories and singing. That sooo did not happen.
One reason there is a big zero on the Accomplishment List this year was because my life took a huge left turn last July 28. That was the day I went into the hospital thinking I had appendicitis. By the end of that day, we knew it wasn’t appendicitis at all. Cancer. Really bad cancer, the kind that makes people’s eyes tear up and look at you with pity when you tell them about it. Nine months, they said. I had nine months left. That was five months ago.
I left the hospital and went home with my beloved. We had begun a new chapter, one that we didn’t even know was in the book.
(When life gives you lemons, apparently what you make is juice! Buckets and buckets of juice. Green juice, carrot juice. 12 cups of it a day. Magical, healing, life-giving juice. Cancer battling juice.)
Things I lost in 2012
When things like calendar years end, we look back and remind ourselves of all that we did since the last time we heard Auld Lang Syne. We remember the hopes and dreams we held a year ago. We measure our successes on the yardsticks we craft from our desires and beliefs about what success is. We pat our backs over our brilliance. We remember, we self-congratulate, and we scheme for the year to come. But I’m looking back now and I see almost nothing to my past year of the sort that makes most people’s Top Ten list.
- This was the year I went on food stamps.
- This was the year I got a disabled hangtag for my car. (Not that I can drive a car anymore.)
- This was the year I learned the proper size of catheter to start an IV.
- This was the year I gave up coffee, sugar, wine, and food that tastes good.
- This was the year I had a spiritual crisis, gave up channeling, and lost touch with the deep inner voice that once sustained me.
- This was the year I lost hope for the kind of better life I thought I would make.
Things I found in 2012
I lost a lot this year. But this was also the year some of my blinders started to come off to reveal things I had all along but didn’t see. Dang blinders!
Love. Incredible love and devotion from my amazing and brilliant soulmate, leaps and bounds beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. If it weren’t for him, I would not still be here. That’s how much he is loving me into life, a life worth living for with him. Found out there is NOTHING more important than love.
Friends. Beautiful, loving friends who send healing, lend an ear, offer perspective, and bear witness to my journey. Indispensable.
Family. I’m crafting different, deeper, truer relationships with my children. I am not the mother I once was to them, but I think as I shed my old skin of fear and judgment I will become a better person and a better mother.
My Voice. I had to learn to say no and to ask for what I need. Huge.
My Self. When you think you have nothing to lose, it’s way easier to let the Real You surface. Turns out I’ve been submerged under a pile of beliefs that weren’t really working for me.
How I rang in the New Year
Tango! Dancing tango. With my incredible soulmate. At a tango milonga.
(You have no idea how amazing this was for me.)
In 1995 I was newly-married, pregnant with Child #2, and moved across the state to a charming small town north of Philadelphia. Driving almost anywhere from there, I’d have to drive past an Arthur Murray dance studio. Social partner dancing? I was all over that. I had always wanted to dance with a love. The love had no interest in dancing. End.
Fast-forward to 2011. First date with Soulmate. He’s a freaking tango instructor! Wheels turn in my head. Could he teach me tango? Could I finally have the partner-dance thing?
No. It’s relationship suicide to teach a girlfriend tango. What if she sucks but expects him to dance with her anyway? What if she’s the jealous type and doesn’t like seeing her man dance with other women? Better just put the kibosh on it from the start.
That changed. We’re soulmates! Of course that has to include tango, and eventually the tango wall went down. We are so close, so connected. Sharing everything, or close to everything. When the cancer thing happened, tango became for me a symbol of vitality. If I could dance tango, I’d be alive. Really alive. Cancer couldn’t touch me if I was that alive.
Red Comme il Faut tango shoes, a gift from a sweet tango friend. Teal dress from Olivine, bought in 2011 right after meeting Soulmate as a just-in-case. Sparkling wine toast after the midnight countdown. Yes, I hardly knew anyone. No, I couldn’t dance much but Soulmate made me look good. Yes, tango is addictive. I want more. There will be more.
How 2013 is going to go down
Until last night, I wasn’t feeling much hope. I was about to write that I couldn’t see myself having Christmas again, and that saying so scared the bejeezus out of me. Not being here (“here” = on the planet, alive, in a body, etc) next Christmas akin to betraying my soulmate. How could I do that to this amazing, adored man who has changed his whole life to help keep me alive?
Hope dances in on red Comme il Faut tango shoes with 3.5 inch heels.
Bring it, 2013. I’m ready for you. I’m still way sick, still on food stamps, and still looking at the dwindling available balance on the high-interest credit card that buys rent and food, but last night I finally danced tango in my beloved’s arms and all I know is that there is going to be more of that. More dancing. More living. I’m ready for you, 2013.