A copy of my final essay for English.
A personal essay of something that has changed me....
Here you go.
The Day Before
The space between our bodies in the bed has been an ebb and flow of human tide over the years. In the beginning, Kyle and I were alone, together. Next came waves of little humans, our offspring, moving us apart in the form of infants needing to be fed. They fought for the space between us, always greedy and hungry. Toddlers washed in between us next, escaping the nightmares that had somehow found a way into the peaceful realm of their slumbers. They have retreated out of our space now as teenagers, only returning to report in after completing their nightly adventures and shenanigans. We are returning once again to empty space between us as the human tide rolls out and away, growing and swelling, into the independence of our growing children.
I wear my nightshirt of choice lately, an oversize Superman tee, which we have an abundance of in our house right now. The shirts with the Superman logo represent power and strength in Kyle’s fight with cancer. He wears these shirts each week to chemo. I climb into our empty bed and Kyle lies beside me, his breathing is as familiar as my own. He drapes his arm across my back. A spot where it has rested so often that sometimes I forget where he ends and I begin again. His breathing beside me slows evenly, sleep has taken him.
Tomorrow is Round Ten at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, round ten of chemotherapy. First there are labs where Kyle’s blood will be drawn and put through a battery of tests to make sure he can have his weekly dose of poison. Next we meet with Shelley, Dr. Sharma’s faithful assistant who checks on both of us: Kyle physically and me mentally. We always have a minute for breakfast at The Point on the sixth floor. A room that is so breathtakingly, and heartbreakingly, beautiful it’s hard to believe that this is a place where people come to fill their bodies with chemo and radiation and hope. A place that often times sees those who are beaten and facing their own mortality. This is not us, not yet, and so our motion carries us forward and finally we head back down to the second floor, to the Infusion Room.
Here, in this room, we have eight hours dedicated to a constant drip of hope entering his body and pumping through his veins. We have our routine down. We drift through our days up here with a rhythm of our own. We move effortlessly in and out of rooms, appointments, and chemo chairs as fluid as the sea.
Sleep escapes my tired soul tonight. Some days I feel ancient, the skin I'm in tired and old. Other days I feel powerful, ready to face and conquer my darkest fears. And these fears? They are among my darkest. Kyle, ever steadfast beside me, gives me strength, always the voice of reason for my troubled heart. So, on this, another eve of the fight of our lives, he sleeps and I lay restless as we both breathe in and out toward a new dawn.
When day breaks tomorrow we will do what we always do, sometimes with many words and oftentimes with few. Our quiet car ride to a place once unknown, and now familiar, will be broken by muted voices from the radio and the warm wash of the sun rising over the mountains. The gentle curves and glass silhouette of the Huntsman Center will greet us as we pull up to its doors. In fluid motions, now well known to us, we will move through our day. There are always kind voices that greet us, needles that prod, and nurses that stick him. There is a beeping and blinking of IV machines in the Infusion Room as they administer daily doses to people who hang their hopes on the liquids entering their veins.
We will sit expectantly, in a place that once filled our hearts with dread. Cancer, chemo, terminal, are all words that make even the bravest among us cringe. There is a love and kindness there that transcends the fear. In that place of both healing and dying, there is a feeling of familiarity, even among strangers, where people reach out and make friends with other patients they may never see again. We have learned many lessons on this journey called cancer and greatest among them perhaps is the goodness of the human race, the kindness of humanity.
I say “we” because although it is my husband who has the cancer, it is “we” who are taking the entire journey together. Our entire lives are bound by one word that has changed everything forever. That word is cancer.
What has all of this changed in me and what has it taught me? It has given me a new outlook on life and people in general. It has taught me that, when the figurative tide flows out, I am the one who must find the strength within myself to carry on. It has taught me to embrace each moment in time. To seize and grasp onto those moments, and live life to the fullest. It has taught me to smile, laugh, and let the wind blow through my hair. It has shown me that love of family and friends goes to the deepest depths, lapping over us in gentle waves that soothe our very souls. At the end of day love is the most important thing of all. This love weaves in and out and around us, buoying us up, giving us strength. Love changes us, fills us, and lets us become who, and what, we are meant to be. Love is the greatest gift that we can give each other. I have learned that life can be measured in the breaths we take in and out, and in the kindnesses we show each other.
So at the end of the day, as we climb back into our beds, that empty space is now filled with our thoughts and fears, our sorrows and joys. It is sprinkled with conversation and ruminations of the days ahead and the days gone past. We are a little more battered and bruised from what we have encountered, but we are still standing. I have come to know that love will conquer the tidal waves of hardship that engulf us and I have learned that I can do hard things. I exhale and my breathing slows to even beside my husband, and soon “the day before” will become tomorrow.