One Year Later

I wanted to post something on the anniversary of Rich’s stage IV melanoma diagnosis. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I thought it would be good to post something about the changes and things that have happened over the past year but I’ve found this to be quite a difficult thing to write about.

Every time I remember that day, a year ago (when we sat on the couch for hours waiting for a call that ended up changing our lives instantly), I am flooded with memories of hearing the news, the fear, the worry, seeing Rich get so quiet and far away, I could see his face and how hard it was on him and I couldn’t reach him. So many memories that I really don’t wish to remember. Just thinking about it brings back all the emotions that were felt a year ago and I find myself unable to articulate anything that I want to say.

On some level I know I’ve changed. My thinking has changed, the way I see the world and people has changed, life has changed but to write about that means I have to go back to that day one year ago and trying to write something seems impossible. I’ve tried and deleted and it’s getting late, the day is almost over. I’m going to try once more and hopefully I can stay on track this time.

I’m grateful to be writing this post tonight. This blog wasn’t even a thought a year ago but if it had been I wouldn’t have been able to even think about writing a year later. A year away didn’t exist in my mind then. The next day barely existed. Life was spent living day to day and sometimes moment to moment never knowing which end was up. It was a tough time and really hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t lived like that. Since May, when Rich had his last scans showing no active disease, we have been living from that scan to the next. That next scan is coming up on August 12th. Scanxiety is starting but it isn’t terrible at this point. A year ago, I was always terrified so that is an improvement. When Rich has an ache or pain I still get concerned but I don’t worry as much as I did before. A year ago, and in the months that followed, I worried about every single thing. I told myself every ache doesn’t mean it’s the melanoma or a side effect but I still worried always thinking about the “what if’s”. I reached a point where I was relaxing a bit and I’d get scared and worry that something might happen if I started to not worry. Rationally I knew all of the worry was silly but I had trouble believing that rational part of myself.

Today, Rich and I weren’t quietly sitting, in silence, waiting for the phone to ring. There was no call bearing bad news. Our lives didn’t change at all today. It’s exactly the same as it was yesterday and to some that may seem like a pretty boring way to live but for me having a normal day feels wonderful. A year ago I didn’t think that I would ever know normal again. Somehow normal changes when a life changing thing happens to someone you love. I spent months hearing and reading about people finding a “new normal”. For many months I didn’t have a clue what that could possibly mean. At some point between May and now I started to realize I wasn’t hoping for a day to be normal anymore. A day was a day and whatever happened that day was normal. Things have not gone back to how they were before. Melanoma is a shadow but that is ok. As long as it is just a shadow, it allows me time to reflect. I am lucky to be with Rich and I am so grateful that we experienced a plain old normal day together.

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