I confess, I met you with a deep sense of dread.
There was no real reason for it, other than that feeling in my bones that this couldn’t be a good year. This was going to be the year the cancer came back. This would be the end of the beautiful honeymoon we’ve enjoyed for the past year–a life filled with (mostly) just watching our baby grow and other good things.
As is so often my wont, I decided to take a critical look at the cause of this fear, since I have absolutely no concrete reason to believe that 2013 will be a particularly good or bad year. After some reflection I decided that it came from a few different things.
First, simple superstition. I haven’t seen too much said about this in connection to the year, but 13 is traditionally an unlucky number in our culture. Most buildings don’t have the 13th floor labeled as such. People remark on it when the 13th falls on a Friday. Little things that we really don’t do for much else anymore. While I know consciously that this is silly and has no basis in reality, that primal part of me that does not listen to reason still responds to that number. I haven’t lived through a year with a 13 in it before (very few people alive have), so I have no previous experience to reassure me.
How did I calm this fear? I remembered that every culture has its own superstitions, and we all survive those “calamities” blissfully unaware. For example, I’ve often placed bags, and probably hats on beds, and never worried for a moment about the possible ramifications. I admit, I’ve often slept with unused pillows in my bed, have laid down after eating, and frequently pointed at the moon, and yet I somehow haven’t had to fight any extra spirits in bed, turned into a snake or had my ear sliced off. So hopefully this “13” business will be just as unfounded a fear as those.
Second, I think I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Last year I got back a perfect scan and had a perfectly lovely time simply being a wife, mother and SLP. We bought our dream home and so many wonderful things happened throughout the year. Something that good can’t last, right? It felt like last year was a reprieve, and this new year would bring me back to the world of cancer, where I belonged.
How did I calm this fear? I reminded myself that this vision did not have to be my story. My story does not have to have a tragic ending. This is for another post, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about how we create our own narratives to make sense of our lives, even if we aren’t in control of the actual events of our stories. Just because Disney makes movies with parents dying in the beginning does NOT mean that this is what has to happen. Not that I think I can change my fate by just thinking about it, but that how I think about my life can change how I feel about it.
Finally, I reminded myself that just as I was not being punished for any grave transgressions by having cancer, nor does my joy require a karmic balancing of the scale. These things happen. To better people than myself. Bad people go unpunished. My odds are no better or worse than they were last year. I must live this year fully, just as I must every year. It may be my last, but that is true of EVERY year.
So, 2013, I embrace you!