Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wondering what the norm is.
by sherry

The holidays are here!  Around our house the holidays have always big, festive, creative and fun.  But cancer suddenly changed everything.  This is holiday #3 since we were first told Terence had only months to live and we're finally figuring our what our new normal is.

Terence & Annie hanging out, reading Christmas stories December 2009
News like that made for a funky first Christmas with cancer ("will he be here next year?"), we pretty much stayed inside, didn't go shopping but spent quiet days with the grand baby just trying to grasp the news and navigate through tears. Our kids, trying their best to keep up with our traditional family festivities planned our nomal events.  I couldn't focus on Christmas shopping (something I love to do)- so everyone got roller blades. No joke. I made one trip to Target and bought one  of each size and color size  and my Christmas shopping was done (that was a bomb!).  Terence tried playing his usual Santa- dressing up as Santa and climbing up on the roof on Christmas eve (grand kids were excited), but we didn't take into account that our dog would not recognize him in the dark and that Terence could no longer run like he used too---  that was a sight to see, Terence in a Santa suit, running in the dark with the dog on his heels-he ran right into he fence! Callie and I were the only witness to Santa's run in with the dog and the fence, and it makes for a pretty hilarious story.  We laugh about the roller blades and Santa's run in.

Ugly sweater Christmas eve, 2010
Our second Christmas (last year) was another desperate year of trying to maintain our festive family traditions - the kids worked real hard to make light of a real heavy situation. Terence had just been taken off the clinical trial because it became too toxic for him.  He faced the month of December pretty sick and in recovery from the drug (will he be here next year?").  Again, I was depressed and stressed, so the kids took the holiday over and we had a National Lampoon "ugly sweater" Christmas eve.  I still had no creative energy so I wasn't into decorating (again, that's something I love to do)-and I don't  even remember Christmas shopping. The ugly sweater Christmas eve was hilariously fun. We all tried to out-do each other and laughed all night long.

Year three: It looks like a chemo Christmas.  The kids holiday trip to Jakarta was canceled since Terence started chemo (
will he be here next year?").  Once again, we're not sure what to expect or how to plan.  Every year cancer has presented itself differently, so we haven't had a 'normal' Christmas like we have in years. Wonder what chemo at Christmas is going to be like any way?  Anticipation!

It seems that our new norm has become:
  "We're not sure if this is our last Christmas together, so we've become 
determined to make it about our experiences not the gifts".

Thinking about it; even before cancer, we never knew if it was last Christmas together or not
Why did it take a terminal illness to express what's really important?

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