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November 10, 2015

It’s been a year now

a year since those words were spoken, “The cancer is back,”

Since those words were hurled at me like insults, like fighting words

like rosary beads, like last rites

a year since my doctor started calling me after hours with updates on my results

and you realize that one cell phone number you never want to have is your doctors.

a year since my family got scared

My older, tougher, badass brother let me hear his voice shake

My sister in law and I cried together when I told her.  She understood the fear of leaving your children motherless.

The pain of taking from them precious moments in their life with ‘Mommy is sick.’

She understood loss.

It’s been a year since the finality of this life

and that I might have to face a much earlier ending than I had planned

threw me into a bottomless pit

threw me into pain so deep my mouth made no words,

my eyes made buckets of tears,

my chest heaved with refusals, rebuttals, buts, pleases, this cannot be and no, no and no!

It’s been a year since I inhaled so deeply all that life gives me every.



The crisp, cool, fall air full of leaves and pumpkin seeds,

Halloween candy, the smell of new leather boots,

Since I inhaled those gorgeous, October sunsets followed by those amazing October fire pits.

Orange and Yellow flowers,

Scarlet and Cream hoodies,

My best friends’ smiles,

My daughter’s shampoo,

A year since I breathed in hugs from my Mom where I let her really, truly hug me and my knees went out while she held us up.

A year since she brushed my hair back and told me she just knows it will all be okay because it just has to be.

A year, since she showed me again why she is strongest person I have ever known.

It has been a full year, since I inhaled so much of life.

Inhaled all that life can give me into the depths of my lungs.

The pit of my soul!

I inhaled so many kisses.

Wet doggy kisses

and 1 year old baby open mouth kisses

Sweet, love-you-want-you, husband kisses

You’re my Mommy and the best in the world 4 year old kisses

It’s been a year since life.



It’s been a year since life.





Everybody knows, cancer the first time means you might be sick for a year or so while you fight

You might lose your hair and get too skinny

But when you hear that it’s back after you got rid of it the first time you know

That this time might be different.

You might have to make peace with things

It may not be a fight this time

It’s been 12 months

since I began to believe that I better get on with the business of living.

I did things I knew my husband wouldn’t.

It’s ‘too expensive’ he’d say.

We did it anyway.

We bought new windows and new carpet.

A new couch and a washer and dryer.

We took the kids to Colorado.

We went to TPC Sawgrass and saw Rickie Fowler win.

In a playoff.

We went to a Cubs game and watched them win against the Cardinals in the final game of the National League Division title.

And we sang, “Go Cubs Go,” for days!

We asked my Mom to move in with us.

We both pursued promotions at work.

We went to Okoboji in the winter.

We walked on the frozen lake.

This summer, we joined a pool.

We brought our own cooler of beer each time we went.

I went back to school to finish my degree.

I took my daughter shopping.

I took my niece for a pedicure and another niece for a milkshake.

We took our family camping for the first time.

Everyone got the flu.

I conquered my fear of bees.

It was so awful and awesome.

Our whole family was in our sister in law’s wedding.

We danced the night away

And my husband danced with his sister and brother and father

In a circle of life I will never forget.

She held her new husbands hand

And we all knew that she would be taken care of

By this life, this love.

I dyed my hair dark brown for the first time in my life.

I took time off from work to take my daughter to the pumpkin patch.

and to be there for her Halloween party.

I shared tears and sadness and reality with coworkers in ways that reminds you

that work is a job

but some of the people there

They are your friends.

I drank some dranks.

I attended so many of my friends’ weddings and cried as I witnessed love move life and life moved forward with each couple’s vows.

And danced and danced and danced.

I rode my bike alot.

Including one 10 mile ride down the mountain in Aspen.

A beautiful, giant deer crossed the path in front of us.

I was terrified and awestruck.

It was perfect.

I cried as I ran down the mountain carrying my 2 year old son who had fallen and cut his head.

I was as alive as any person has ever been while I ran holding a sweatshirt to his head while blood seemed to pour out of him.

I would have wrestled a lion if it meant his safety or his future.

Turns out – he just needed a Bandaid.

I learned first hand that head wounds bleed alot.

And boys hit their heads alot.

That was the first of at least 5 more to follow.

I went to concerts.

Taylor Swift, Salt N Peppa

Being girls.

Being alive.


I went to the Symphony.

The trumpets, the conductor, the violins, the cellos.

They moved me. They wooed me.

I learned to play some new drinking game at a garage party.

You play on teams.

I played with another girl.

We beat the boys.

It was a moment of pure joy and revelry.

My husband has experienced a new phenomenon called, “Getting your wife a beer” in public.

And has become the best husband ever.

This year, I have packed all of the life I could find into 12 months.

And, I have no regrets.

I smoked some cigarettes.

In Colorado, I even smoked a joint.

On the deck of our hotel.

On the side of a mountain.

On a 45 degree summer night, under a full moon.

Life’s meaning became full and intricate and hilarious.

I giggled with my husband.

I laughed at our idiosyncrasies.

I felt free and happy and without gravity.

I inhaled.

I played sand volleyball in the summer.

I said, “Yes,” to playing competitive, court volleyball this fall.

I run and jump and pull muscles and burst random blood vessels on my knuckles.

I block spikes, I try to spike, I set, I bump.

I compete, I sweat, I breathe, I drink gallons of water.

I inhale.

I got botox with this radical notion that I’ll probably live so long that my wrinkles may eventually be a problem.

I have gone to church every Sunday for almost three months now which is also a first in my adult life.

My kids love it.

My husband loves it.

I love it.

Some weeks I have gone with a hangover.

Some weeks I have gone without my husband.

Through the last 12 months, I said, “Thank you.”

I said, “Yes.”

I bought the dress I’ve always wanted for one of my girlfriends weddings.

It was too expensive.

Who cares?

I will keep that dress for years to come.

I visited my 88 year old Aunt.

And we took a selfie together.

And cried together about her husband, my uncle, that we both miss terribly. I felt him standing there smiling.

I inhaled.

I tried (and failed miserably) to make a holiday door hanger.

But, I painted, I laughed, I took videos.

I got three of my old school besties to join snapchat.

We use it like facetime and talk to each other.

No random photos with funny captions.

No funny quotes.

We’re so 90’s.

I love them for that.

I inhale.

It’s been a year since the doctor’s told me, “They cancer is back.”

It’s been a year since I watched my 4 year old and 1 year old cry at the top of the steps while I cried at the bottom knowing to hug them was to put them in danger of radiation exposure as it coursed through my body killing off whatever cancer remained and my heart splattered all over the walls as it burst from the pain of seeing my babies cry and not being able to comfort them.

And I cried myself to sleep that night.


With my doggy on the couch nearby as the only comfort I could have.

And I was so grateful to have it.

I inhaled.

It’s been a year since my husband and I enjoyed the most beautiful 2nd anniversary on a patio, drinking wine, holding hands, wondering why anything, anyone, any entity would want to severe the bond we share.

Wondering if death could even severe it.

We had wine and cheese and dinner and life.

A three legged cat crossed our paths purring for us to pet it.

Owls were in the background.

And windchimes.

I inhaled.

And, as I await the results of my yearly scan to tell me my future,

read my palm,

forecast the next year

read my tea leaves

I am scared to know the answer.

But I also know in some ways it doesn’t matter

because hearing you have cancer again

is a blessing.

For a brief moment you get to stop taking everything for granted

You get to live this life

absolutely all of it

the good, the bad, the ugly

without complaint

without bitching

and realize how amazingly beautiful it all is

even the bad moments are so damn beautiful

you just want more of them

you want to be here for all of them

and for the last 12 months I have done my best

to live them

to appreciate them

to believe in a future

to live in the present


I have inhaled.


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One Comment
  1. Shelly permalink

    I love you and I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for sharing, it was beautiful.

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