Unfortunately, being a thinky Capricorn, I am one of those people who tends to get a little sentimental at New Year. It’s a bad habit of mine to look back, often, and of course as the year comes to a close and everyone lists the brilliant things they’ve achieved and their plans for the following 12 months, I’m all the more prone to too much reflection. But the truth is that 2015 kicked my butt so much that I’ve been avoiding looking back at all.
This morning as I woke in a post-NYE celebration haze, I actually felt relief when it dawned on me that 2016 was here. I know nothing has essentially changed in the past 24 hours, but it still feels like a new chance, a new start, and as silly as it sounds, like the pain of 2015 is finally behind me. Which is perhaps why I now feel able to write about it.
As briefly mentioned in my last post, the last half of 2015 was kind of a disaster.
One Friday in September I got the phone call that I’ve been dreading my whole life: my mum had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t even know she’d been to see a doctor.
The moment I heard that word, that evil, bastard word, my world fell apart. And there really is nothing to say, nothing that anyone else can say, when something like this happens to someone you love. No words seem enough, and no words come when you feel like you have so much you should say. No words of kindness are big enough, no matter how lovely the intention. Nothing matters. My brain went to sleep, all except for four words which repeated on a cycle for days, weeks: my mum has cancer. Those, and ‘but what if…’, which are the most dangerous of thoughts for a fragile mind, and ones which kept me awake night after night.
Cancer was suddenly everywhere; I was reading about it everywhere I looked, everyone I saw knew someone going through it or had a story to tell or questions to ask, every advert seemed to be for cancer charities, every soap had a cancer storyline. It took over my life. I was overflowing with fear and anxiety yet completely numb at the same time.
But the thing is, and what I have to remind myself every day, is that we were lucky. We were so, so lucky. It was cancer of the womb, and two weeks later she was to have a hysterectomy to remove the lot. The surgeon practically guaranteed that everything was going to be fine (or at least that’s what my wonderful, brave, strong mum told me over and over). I was still an absolute wreck, of course, especially on the day of the op. But then we had another phone call – the one saying she was OK. My dad and I cried with relief and hugged, properly, for the first time since I was a child. We visited her in hospital as soon as we were allowed and her main concern was her eyelashes.
From start to finish, the whole ordeal was just a matter of weeks, from the diagnosis to the all clear. Two life-changing phone calls. It feels like a bad dream, and yet so real and so raw that the fear of it still plagues my mind on a daily basis. It pushed me to my limits and then some; but I’m also so grateful at the outcome we were blessed with, and can’t quite believe it’s really over. But it is. And, happily, so is 2015. I’ll never forget it, but unlike previous New Year’s Days I’m not going to spend too much time analysing it either.
So here’s to 2016, good health, and looking forward for a change. The view is better that way.