Well, we’ve arrived again at that time of year when everyone reflects back on the past 365 days, their missed and achieved goals, where they went off track or how they managed not to, etc. etc. etc. As if, unless we tally up the things we’ve done and graded our productivity, we’ve somehow missed the point. Or worse, we run the risk of complete and utter disorganization in the year looming ahead (God forbid we don’t have a ten point plan). Don’t get me wrong. Goals are important. Setting your sights on what you’d like to do is important, as is taking stock, but I often feel like these “To Do” lists inevitably lead us into a negative zone because, honestly, we put too much on them. That we should aim high and expect the best from ourselves goes without saying (I hope), but I often worry that in our hard scrabble pursuit to get where we want to be in life, we forget to appreciate where we are now.
At this point you’ve probably figured out I’m not in not in my happy place at the moment. Just before Christmas my husband got some test results back. He has cancer. He got the news through one of those nurse phone calls where they dropped the C-bomb on him and then proceeded to prattle on about next steps and appointment setups while the poor guy’s ears are still ringing from the word. They said it’s entirely treatable and will require just a bit of surgery, probably no radiation. “If you have to pick a cancer, this is the one to have,” the doctor said, at which point I wanted to find the nearest rock to hurl at that idiot’s head. How about we don’t want to pick a cancer? How about he’s only 36 and we have three children ages five, three, and one? How about this just massively sucks and that’s all there is to it? FYI, if anyone tells you they or a loved one has cancer, the best and only thing you should say at that moment is, “I’m really sorry. That really, really blows.” and NOT, “Bah, he’ll be fine, don’t worry. They know how to deal with that stuff these days.” Yeah, not reassuring. And when it’s you it DOES NOT feel that way.
Okay, I realize I’m transferring my struggle with this onto the reaction of others to the situation. The sad truth is that I find myself seeing the whole thing in the context of its impact, and potential impact, to me and the tidal wave of agony I feel about this news. Which is terribly selfish, even if it is terribly normal (a word which doesn’t often come up in a sentence where I’m involved).
Here’s the thing:
This happy, loving marriage I enjoy with my husband, it’s something I hoped for but little expected to find. I come from a family of women with a long history of domestic abuse. I’ve had my own personal dealings with it as well. I mention this to emphasize how incredibly unlikely I figured it was for me, someone who grew up in that environment and the subsequent man-hating aftermath, to find myself with someone like my husband, someone who even ten years into our marriage still writes sweet notes for me to find, who buys me chocolate, who still gets that I’m-about-to-pounce-on-you look in his eye when I put on that dress he likes so much…or a fitted shirt, or my PJs, or, well, anything really. He’s a randy lad. And before anyone quirks an eyebrow my direction, not to worry, he gets plenty of care in return. In fact, he recently got a shiny new, longed for PS4 Pro that I managed into our budget through tricks and treachery.
He and I are by no means perfect at all times. We’ve had some rockin’ arguments as well as those piddly ones about nothing, but I’ve always felt safe which is a huge deal for someone in my shoes. So, you can imagine this whole cancer thing, well…Let me put it this way: There are people who love me in my life, but precious few who are loving. My husband is and has always been the one who occupied the top of that list. My self-worth is not dependent on him, but we built this life together and I like it as is. We don’t have much, but have found our wealth in our children and in each other. Team Deen, we call it. Cancer has no place here.
In a few days, it’ll be a new year. Yes, I’ll be thinking ahead to goals I’d like to accomplish with plans to be productive. I’ll still be writing (because I’ll go crazy if I don’t, especially now) and finishing projects, but this year my number one is to remember what I have. And if you’ll allow it, cliche as it might seem, let me leave you with this thought: Appreciate the moment–No, not just because it’s fleeting or gone-too-soon, but because it’s yours and always will be if you remember to keep it close. Add it to your pile of riches, the ones that last forever. When you write that “2017 To Do” list, be realistic with it and don’t add so many things for Future-You to get through that Present-You doesn’t have enough time or peace of mind to recognize what you already have. I’ll admit that I’ve been as guilty of this practice as the next person. Want to talk New Year’s resolutions? Want to talk Work-In-Progress? This is mine. We all have places to go in our lives, that glowing “one day” we want to get to, but don’t forget the right-now. Right now is precious too.