I recently shared two major events in my life. My epic journey across Scotland and Ireland and back to my ancestral roots and my fantastic Pet Scan results: I am NED!!
I love everyone who comes up to me at school and tells me how much they enjoyed following me across the British Isles. One even told me she felt like she was missing Scotland too! Of course the best parts of such a lengthy trip is that you appreciate the little things you leave behind at home and of course, CATS! AND COCONUTS!!
The highest points of my trip? Hard to narrow down. Glencoe in Scotland–massively beautiful and eerie, kinda magical, Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough, watching the thunderstorm at the Rock of Cashel rolling across the green plain below, the cottage on the sea in Kinsale, everything Dingle, lol, the music and hum of Galway, the absolute quiet and sweeping rough beauty of Inis Mor in the Aran Islands and of course, most importantly, seeing my cousins after many years and meeting their children (actually young adults). My cousin Brendan is a local historian and he and Tim hit it off as if they had always known each other. Their generous hospitality and time, the musicality of the kids, visiting my grandmother’s birth home and Knock….can’t really put into words the depth of my emotions about being there in such a magical place and my joy that Tim loved it as much too! If you have specific questions, by all means, ask me.
Now everyone is asking me where we are going next? I have no idea but Tim wants to sit and rest awhile, preferably on a beach lol. Hard to believe summer is ending. In the last glowing days we spent times with friends, celebrated, took a quick lake trip to the Starr’s and winded down.
Returning to school for my last “first day” was bittersweet. I love seeing all of my colleagues fresh off their many adventures and their happiness at being back together in community and love for kids. It was exciting to catch up and chat with everyone and the faculty slide show of everyone’s summer frolics was definitely a highlight. So many good things happening under one roof just serves to remind me how much I will miss it. The good news! I have agreed to stay on after my retirement in October, working on out of district students, so I will be carrying a small case load and maintaining a little desk/computer in a closet somewhere. I am looking forward to this and the opportunity to continue to serve kids in a limited capacity and help out my work wives if and when I can. We have come a long way together!!! I am trying to hang onto every memory now, as much as I can in my foggy brain.
Saying goodbye will be incredibly hard……of course this opens the door to other opportunities as I transition to the next chapter. I am hoping to do some volunteer work, greatly increase my advocacy for more money to fund metastatic breast cancer research, and get more serious about knitting and blogging. Tim and I will be going to Washington DC on October 13 to “stampede the hill” for more funding on the one day allotted to metastatic breast cancer awareness.
I am bracing myself for the pink washing that accompanies October but there is still much work to be done. If you know anyone who had died of breast cancer, they have died of Metastatic Breast Cancer, the only kind that kills!
Of course, among all this bliss, it is hard to really celebrate when there is still so much suffering happening, especially in Houston right now. I am at a loss for words–yes, even me. The worst was seeing a teenage boy being evacuated from his school with his family, sobbing as they got on a helicopter with only their cell phones, medication and dogs, flying into a future unknown. It was heart breaking and the heroism of the volunteers is inspiring.
This was contrasted with the news story of an abusive policeman hand cuffing and arresting an ER nurse for doing her job. As the mother of an ER nurse I can’t even go there. Head coconut gets plenty of abuse from patients doing her job but there are plenty of time she calls me about a patient she lost after superhuman efforts. Everyone–let’s LOVE a nurse today! Everyone will need one sooner or later.
About my NED status: Tim was watching a documentary the other night about 5 directors who returned from WW II and went onto have prolific careers despite the heavy damage to their psyches during war. Half listening, my mind drifted off. Having terminal cancer is like being perpetually stuck in the middle of a horrible war like WW II and having brief periods of shore leave, knowing you always have to go back. During these shore leaves we look and feel well despite still dying. Once leave is up, it’s back to baldness, weight loss and pallor.
Conversely, I have been able to view the past 17 months of my life as something worth celebrating. I am 33 months into a 24-36 month life expectancy. Every additional day I get with my husband and kids is a miracle after nearly dying and spending two months in the hospital away from home. Now I have shore leave for another 4 months until my next Scan. I truly feel I am on borrowed time and I do not want to waste a minute of it on worrying. Beyond looking for the tender mercies, the line “make space for grace” really resonates with me. We can all make more space for grace in our lives by being more forgiving and kind to each other. Everyone is looking for something.
I like to spend a lot of time processing and preparing, so the song lyrics from The Fast and the Furious really spoke to me today both in terms of my life and my retirement.
“Hold every memory as you go.
We’ve come a long way–
I’ll tell you all about it
When I see you again”
Make space for grace,