People Who Make Me Happy

Last Monday was treatment #8. As usual, Steve and I started off our day with a run. The weather was beautiful and we managed to get in ten miles before going to chemo.

So far, my husband has been able to go to every chemo session with me. I know being in the infusion room is not particularly exciting, and I appreciate him coming along to keep me company. I am grateful to have him along. He likes to play Flappy Bird when I get tired.

This week, I was hit with nausea pretty badly for a few days. Monday night I felt like I was in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. Three members of my family hopped in bed with me to keep me company.

Still, I managed to keep up with everything I needed to do this week. I ran with my friends and with my husband.  I attended parent teacher conferences. I had my daughters’ friends over to our house. I went to Denver for my teenaged daughter’s track meet. In short, I am continuing to live my life.

    This week reaffirmed how much I gain from my connections to others. My life was touched by some special people this week. I was fortunate enough to have runs lined up with three girl friends this week. I know I have slowed down. I know I am not the bundle of energy I normally am. I really appreciate my friends’ willingness to meet me, encourage me, and keep me company. I know some people may not understand why I would want to keep running when I feel tired or sick. Running is so much a part of who I am that I just need to keep doing it until I no longer can. I may not be running long right now, but I continue to get out there. It makes me feel happy and whole. I may have been dragging and tired during each run, but I know I came home filled with the joy of having passed miles with people I love dearly.

     Not all friends are close enough to run with, though. This week I was fortunate enough to share long phone calls with two special women in my life. One is a childhood friend. Our friendship was founded in the trials and tribulations of middle school and high school. We spent countless hours at one another’s houses growing up. Though we lost touch for a long time, when we reconnected, it was like we had never spent time apart. Here we are as freshmen in high school.

     The other friend is someone I met locally a couple of years ago who has since moved. We first met at the gym, and while we did not dislike one another, we did not become friends after that first meeting. We met again later through our kids’ school. On a run one day, we talked about our first impressions of one another, and how wrong they were, and we laughed about it. I am so glad my friend and I had the opportunity to really get to know each other, because I have gained so much from knowing her and her entire family. I love this woman because we laugh together and discuss deep and complex issues with mutual respect. I have missed her every day since she moved away.

It amazes me how just a simple phone call can leave me feeling so genuinely happy. Take the time to connect with people you love by phone, if you cannot see them in person. I know, we all get busy but the people we love won’t always be around. Make the phone call. Plan a running date, or a coffee date. Our connections to others bring meaning and joy to our lives.

   Lastly, I have to mention a random connection from my run this morning. I was running with my husband and just having a really hard time. I stopped and tried to compose myself. I was embarrassed. I did not want to be emotional in public. A woman was running towards us, she stopped and said, “hey, I know you!” She was one of the nurses from the cancer center. She stopped to say hello. I told her I was having a hard time and burst into tears. She hugged me and said, “It gets better.” That hug, that phrase and that chance encounter created a sudden shift in my emotional state. I was suddenly able to let go of the overwhelming emotions I had been experiencing. Such a simple gesture, but it was exactly what I needed in that moment. I knew she understood without my having to explain. She was right. It did get better.

   Onwards to tomorrow and treatment #9. I feel badly for my kids that while many of their friends are going away for spring break, we will be here and I will be receiving and recovering from my chemo treatments. I am sorry it won’t be particularly fun for them, but I hope they know that in time, it will get better.

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