"For of All Sad Words of Tongue and Pen, the Saddest are These, It Might Have Been....." John Greenleaf Whittier
I have been having a severe mid-life crisis lately. Panic stricken moments so overwhelming that I find it difficult to breath. I started my youth ambitiously pointed towards acting and Hollywood. But somehow in the last 2 decades...I've not taken another step in the right direction. What the hell happened to me?
I decided somewhere along the way that I wanted to get married and have a family. I also decided that everything my (undeserving) husband wanted was far more important to our future happiness than anything I wanted. I gave up everything. And he didn't even have to ask me to. I just threw it all away. 5 or 6 years of us go by and we have a baby. And then 18 months go by and we get divorced. And I get fat. Now alone, living at home with my parents and raising a toddler, whom I love with all my heart and soul, everything I started out wanting seems even farther fetched than ever. A few years of sitting behind a desk in an office and "surviving" pass, and my parents win their battle to convince me to move with them to a small town in Texas. I find myself without a decent job, without health insurance, without anyone I can really talk to, and sadder than ever. And hot. Fucking hot. And still fat.
And then the worst thing happens. Two years into the oblivion of Texas life, my daughter, light of my life, gets diagnosed with leukemia.
What. In. The. Hell.
We'er in the middle of two and a half years of chemo therapy now. Hospital trips. Hospital stays. Weak bones and occasionally no immune system. No fun for her. No school for her. Sometimes no friend time for her. Jesus Christ. How did this happen?
I find no sleep. Like, ever. But in my sleepless state I do find food. Lots of food. And what I thought was fat before, becomes a fond memory. Because now I seriously get fat. Like, really fat. I spend most of my days in a trance-like state, trying not to let the fear of the reality come into the front of my mind. I use every grain of strength I have to keep the earth shattering terror at bay. Because when you have a child falling into despair over their own body trying to destroy itself, you don't get to fall to pieces. You keep all those pieces glued together for as long as you can. I am convinced that my doctor thinks I'm insane because he walks into the exam room only to find me sobbing. Sobbing quickly because the few minutes I'm waiting in the room all alone is the only time alone I ever have that I can let the dam break.
By next month we'll be a year in to her chemotherapy treatments and so far, barring occasional setbacks, things are moving in the right direction. Until now I couldn't even bring myself to write anything about it. I have actively avoided my diary because I felt like if I wasn't writing about cancer, then I shouldn't be writing about anything. I still can't go into much detail about it. Again, this would be a dam breaking.
She's in remission. She's in a place now where the treatments aren't so severe that she's frequently left with no immune system. Only occasionally left with no immune system. It's at a place where I feel comfortable enough to look beyond the cancer. Make plans for the future. What happens after. Maybe I'm foolish, but it feels nice to think beyond. To feel optimistic of a future that promises fulfillment. But how?
I find lately that I am utterly disappointed in myself. What have I accomplished with my life? What did I work for? What have I trained for? Nothing. I haven't. I just blew around like a dried leaf in the breeze. Not grasping on to anything. Not focusing on anything. Not ready to until now. And now I am so old. So old to start over. To start anything! 36 years old and I've never been to college, never had a career, never truly pursued what my soul has ached for. And how do I do that now? With a daughter not yet in third grade, how do I uproot her again to move back to California with no money, no prospects, no direction at all. All I do know is that I don't, no, I can't be where I am anymore. There is nothing for me here and this drifter lifestyle must come to an end. I am ready for my life to start.
And at the same time, I couldn't feel more selfish. How dare I think of moving my daughter so that I may chase after my dream? Even though we are talking about "beyond cancer" here. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? I'm more lost than ever and so confused that it honestly makes me dizzy. Disheartened. Scared. Maybe terrified is a better word. I am terrified to be on my death bed one day with my final thoughts being "what if"?