When Brian was dying, and I was trying and failing to find any morsel of hope and relief I could, I had the thought that when it was all over, when he was finally at rest, I could resume my life without holding my breath between maintenance scans; able to recoup some semblance of normalcy before these harbinger scans threatened to take what little peace I had left. And then, almost as if the universe itself was conspiring against me, I received my own diagnosis and now for the rest of my life I will be living between scans. My two year set is this week on Tuesday. I know a lot of my stress the past several nights can be attributed to this.
Its been at least a solid week of waking up frantic in the middle of the night with feelings of almost unbearable dread. Anxiety grips me between 1 and 3am every night. I’ve told this story before, but one of my most beloved therapists called this The Hour of the Wolf. And he told me his best advice was to have four shots of whiskey by my bedside in the evenings. One for the mother wolf, and then three subsequently for each of her cubs. (This is not something I have put into practice yet, haha.)
It takes a lot of self awareness on my part to deal with this part of my mind. At my worst, I deflect this emotion onto whatever little nagging doubts I have about my present life. I focus all of the anxiety on something totally unrelated and I end up overthinking and causing turmoil where there needn’t be any. At my best, I am learning to recognize that most of this anxiety comes from past trauma and trapped emotions in my body. It absolutely never ceases to amaze me what my body and subconscious mind can recall before I realize what is going on.
Today when I woke up and looked at facebook, some pictures popped up in my memories. Two years ago, our hopes were at their very highest as we checked into Northwestern for Brian’s Hail Mary clinical trial. It had been a stressful few weeks leading up to it, but the way things all fell into place had me believing this was going to be our lucky break. Looking back on it now, I can see that we were just clinging to any hope we could, but at the time it really felt like a slam dunk. (I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I slipped not one, but two sports references in this paragraph. I’m looking at you, B.)
We were on top of the world, and on top of the hotel on the 25th floor thanks to Lacey and Jason who put us up in style for the night before surgery. Shortly after we got settled in, we got the phone call that the planning MRI had showed significant tumor progression such that Brian was no longer eligible for the trial. That was one of the most hopeless moments of my life. As Anne Shirley would put it, I was immediately “in the depths of despair.” We both knew then that was the beginning of the end, but neither of us voiced as much. The only thing Brian said to me was, “well, do you think your mom can keep the kids through the weekend anyway? I guess we’re going to West Virginia.” It was my beloved Mothman Festival that weekend and I had all but forgotten about it with everything that was happening.
So somehow, this man, my husband, mustered up his remarkable fortitude. To this day, I don’t know how he did it, but as silly as this little festival was, the days and nights we spent together there were some of the most tender and sacred of my life with Brian. Too sacred to write about now, or maybe ever. And we also had such a fun silly time, reminiscent of our life together before things got so complex and heavy. It was a gift for which I remain eternally grateful.
So I have never put much stock into energy healing or trapped emotion, but my mind and body have proven to me time and time again that there must me something to it. I certainly feel these events before I consciously remember them.
Anyway, I don’t often ask, but if you have any spare prayers, good vibrations, or positive energy to send my way this week, I’m taking it in all forms. I worry because even though I have no symptoms, I didn’t before either, except for my deepest intuition. I had someone on a support group for RCC tell me to change my thought pattern to think of these scans as routine maintenance rather than something to fear. Which makes good sense. If I flip the narrative, I can think that really, any one of us can have cancer growing in our bodies at any given time, but I have the luxury of never having it sneak up on me again since they will always be checking. This thought process helps, except when the wolf and her cubs come along in the night.