Marty, Christopher and I went out the afternoon before they left to check out Christmas leftovers at Tuesday Morning--one of my favorite places to shop for bargains. We used to go every year, but Marty and I moved to different states and my after Christmas shopping habits have changed in the last ten years. What I thought we needed for the next year became not so important. We have less storage space than we had in our Mississippi house and decorating tastes have changed. Then there is the matter of the energy level it takes to get boxes out of the attic, unpack them and arrange the contents, then put it all away again. The emotions of this year have also had an impact on me.
I planned for the holidays, believing that Christmas 2008 would be my last. Having both of our children and all our grandchildren was more special than it has ever been and I wanted just the right amount of family tradition added to the family traditions they have established in their families. I made lists of what to do and when to do it. All but one gift was bought on line, most wrapped as they arrived or sent directly from the merchant to the recipient. Menus were made, cooking planned and grocery lists evolved. I had lists everywhere, almost to the point I need a list of where I had put the lists. The truth of the matter is that I didn't cook everything I planned; no one missed it and we didn't need it. It was difficult to get everyone together at one time, but we did have all present for dinner on Sunday night, after which we gathered--more appropriately, crammed--in our living room to share gifts. What a GIFT to be together!!
It was May, 2006 when my California oncologist reluctantly told Tom, Tommy and me that my cancer is incurable, gave us the two year prognosis and told us we needed to move close to family. I began an agressive chemo treatment that floored me like nothing else ever has, brought on pneumonia that was life threatening, leaving me in a drug induced coma while on a respirator for eight days and when I awoke my muscles had forgotten how to work. All the while we were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who prayed unceasingly and worked out their faith by caring for us in unending ways. We arrived in Tennessee expecting to begin chemo again after Thanksgiving, but the good news was no cancer could be detected. That remission lasted almost a year, then back on chemo November '07 through March '08. The next remission was shortlived and again chemo began in August '08 and will continue at least through March of this year. My two years of surviving has stretched now to almost three, but when you live with the realities of ovarian cancer there is always a dark cloud present. This past fall I have thought more about the things I need/want to do to prepare for my passing. Having my family together at Christmas was the most important!!
Being with them recharged my psyche. Yes, the cancer is incurable; it is recurrent, but it does not define me. There is medicine, new research. There is hope. There is Hope! Thus, the tablecloth. On our Tuesday Morning trip, I bought a new Christmas tablecloth that fits our dining room table when fully extended--just the right size for all the family Christmases to come!
It is my prayer that all of who read will know the one who is our Hope!