Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Moon and the Rain

There's a strange comfort to be found in watching rain drops run down a window pane. In watching a bird pecking at sparse grass, seeking its early morning meal. In standing in the garden at the dead of night looking at the moon shining its gentle light down on the world, so much less conspicuous than the light given to us by the sun. 

For me, these subtle reminders that the universe is so much bigger than me sooth my soul. It is so incredibly easy to become wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of every day life that I often forget that this is my only chance at this life, and that everything that happens is just a microscopic part of a giant picture. 

In the past I have swayed from being fairly devoutly Christian, to being staunchly sceptical of there being any "greater power", to somewhere fairly comfortably in the middle. One constant for the last decade or so however has been my belief that our lives are mapped out before they have even begun, that there is a reason for everything and that, whilst we may feel we have control, ultimately our decisions have already been made for us. 

That isn't to say that we shouldn't take responsibility for our actions - to neglect to do so could have disastrous consequences - or that we can't decide to change the route our path is taking. What I take from it though is a quiet reassurance: if I royally screw something up, it was intended to be so, in order that I could learn from it. 

In recent weeks I've found myself questioning almost everything. I've had days where I've felt like a complete failure for not being able to do the one thing all living creatures were supposedly sent here to do. I've gone over and over the possible reasons in my head, never finding the answers I so desperately seek. 

But whilst those days are dark and fearful, once the blind frustration of the situation has lifted and I can see a little more clearly, I feel a sort of peace from believing that this happened for a reason. And call me naive, but in a world that can at times feel so alien, the thought that something, someone, somewhere is trying to keep me on my allocated path is encouraging. 

Life is so fast-paced, we can become all-consumed by "doing"; being in the right place at the right time, being the fastest, brightest, funniest in everything we do. Our eyes are so highly focused on what we perceive to be our goals that it's easy to become blinkered to the world around us. We're human, after all. The need to win and survive and be the best is in our very DNA. 

But just sometimes, that world can become too much. Our heads rush with the noise of the busy spaces we frequent, our feet ache from standing, walking, running, never pausing. Our souls are heavy and our minds are tired and we get to a point where we quite simply just have to...

Stop.

And when we finally do stop, it's in that moment that I like to look around me. To notice once again the water droplets running down the window. To watch the bird pecking at the ground. To gaze at the moon and the stars and wonder if the earth looks as magical to them as they do to us. 

For life may have its twists and turns, and sometimes it might feel like everything is falling apart, but the water falling from the sky, the moon shining at night and being able to share this world with beautiful creatures, all serve to remind me that even though my own tiny little fraction of this planet might be temporarily broken, the world will keep turning. And that insignificance, which can sometimes be so overwhelming, can in itself be the most comforting thing of all. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Normal.

"Everything's back to normal now, we can discharge you. Congratulations!"

Normal.

I can't even remember what 'normal' is.

48 days, 1 operation, 36 blood tests, 2 scars, 3 hospital stays.

On Friday last week my consultant called me to tell me HCG has finally fallen to 0 and I could be discharged from the hospital.

It's been 4 weeks since I was allowed to come home, and in many ways life has returned to whatever 'normal' is. We celebrated Christmas, visited my family and friends in Scotland, saw in the New Year together and I went back to work.

I've deep-cleaned our kitchen, taken down our Christmas decorations, re-organised my wardrobe, cleared out my locker at work, bookmarked recipe books with things I want to cook, read countless books, made exhaustive Spotify playlists, practised choir music.

Keeping busy.

I wrote in my journal the other day that I don't want to be wrapped in cotton wool and I don't want people to be afraid to speak to me for fear of upsetting me. But I also feel a burning need to talk about what's happened, what could have been. And I don't quite feel ready to be 'me' yet.

Every day I relive things that happened in November. The signs from the moment I called my doctor that something was wrong.

The fact that only 1 person congratulated me, the very first doctor I saw in A&E before any tests were done.

The fact that as soon as I was admitted to the ward I was given a private room. After 2 weeks in there it became clear that those rooms were reserved for grieving couples.

The fact that on what became the day of my operation, I remember the nurse telling me that her shift finished at 2 and I wasn't to 'go anywhere' and that I was scaring her. I had no idea what she meant at the time.

The fact that on the same day, I barely had time to get changed into a hospital gown before the anaesthetist himself came to take me to theatre,

But you know, despite everything I'll never forget the kindness that was shown to me. From my best friend who sat with me all day that first day in A&E whilst I swayed from terror to excitement every few minutes (and made me cry with laughter one night to the point that other patients thought I was crazy). From Matthew's constant attentiveness and determination to break the visiting hours rules, unrelenting support and middle of the night hot water bottle refilling.

From the student nurses who sat on my bed in the middle of the night and made me feel like a gossipy teenager again. From my parents who, although so far away, put up with tearful phonecalls made at obscure hours. From everyone who visited me in hospital, even though we all know no-one likes those places. All the messages from friends near and far, from ladies who have also lost babies and wanted to tell me I wasn't alone. From the priest who visited me at home. From my wonderful choir who made me feel completely surrounded by love when I made it to a concert I thought I would have to miss.

I've always tried to believe that things go wrong so that we can learn from them. Well, I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought, that people care more than most ever let on, that maternal instinct kicks in early and that it's not weak to admit that you're not okay.

But I've also learned that it's possible to feel so far detached from the world that you can sit and watch people and listen to their conversations without taking in a single thing. That suddenly trivial things seem so insignificant and I spend a lot of time worrying about things that don't matter. That when Chandler was trying to persuade Erica to let him and Monica adopt her baby, he summed up how I feel in just one sentence. A mother without a baby... 

So here we are. No more blood tests (except on my liver, which did not like the methotrexate. But then neither did I, so at least we agree on something). No more Tuesday trips to York to the hospital. No more scans. No more packing my suitcase in case they decided to keep me in.

I look 'normal' now. Most of the time I act 'normally'. But if you see me with a faraway look on my face, please don't be afraid to ask me what I'm thinking about. Because I can't help but think about what could have been, what might have been, what nearly was. And whilst the only truly tangible memories I might have are hospital wrist bands, sympathy cards and one tiny pair of shoes, the memories and dreams I hold in my heart feel just as real.