This week was incredibly emotionally charged, humbling and bittersweet. I have a close friend who I’ve come to know increasingly well over the past couple of months. His wife has been battling stage four terminal breast cancer whilst looking after their large family. Having a significant other who is unwell, this experience is not unfamiliar to me. The highs, the lows and all that lies in between. We tend to operate on extreme ends of the spectrum, refusing to feel in half measures because we know the ecstatic elation of a good day just as we do the crushing weight of a bad one. I’ve always thought that being the partner of somebody with an advanced condition is perfectly summed up in this verse. “Do you ever feel like you’re on a train moving too fast to stop but someone you love is in the carriage and you can’t get off?”
To me it perfectly epitomises the isolating and confronting experience of illness from both a second and first hand experience. My partner is my other half and we share our messes. Your mess is mine and my mess is yours. We are hopelessly intertwined, interconnected, operating on a mirrored wavelength. Yesterday it was written on my heart that my friend and his wife would finally step off the train. They’d exit that damned carriage and receive a new lease on life. They’d walk through those doors and the world of treatments and heartbreak would, in time, lie mostly forgotten. Waking up to the news that his wife Kelly had no active cancer and clear scans gave me hope again. It gave me renewed belief in miracles. Having witnessed the sheer intensity of their pain, I became heavily invested in a positive outcome. I felt a weight lifted from my own shoulders at that point. At the same time, I felt in a way conflicted.
You can have these feelings that exist totally independent of each other, even if they’re gritty, raw and morally uncomfortable. The simple truth is that I’ve been wishing on their healing with the same fervour I’ve been wishing on my partner’s. I wondered when our time would come and we’d be released from these tight shackles. The chasm is deep, friends. It really is. The future feels uncertain. At times I see us as being in limbo. Teetering on the edge of relapse, recovery. Just bearing complete witness to forces outside of our control. The balance of the universe is delicate and often there is no rhyme or reason for the happenings we face.
Just as my friend’s wife has been healed and their family put back together, the echoes of loss still ring out. I read of a beautiful little girl, a five year old, who had both cancer and Aspergers. She left her earthly body last week. Then there’s my partner and I, continuing as we are. Not much has changed and in that way I am learning to see the goodness in the waiting too. To well and truly make the most of this moment. My partner starts pulmonary rehabilitation to strengthen his lungs next week. It is ongoing over the course of three days a week for six months. He’ll be doing cardio and body weight resistance exercises to increase lung capacity and improve his breathing. If all goes well, his pulmonologist and cardiologist have cleared all travel, including overseas trips.
I would be deeply moved and grateful if you’d consider praying for the two of us in any way that feels right to you. Similarly, I would love to know how I can keep you in my prayers. Whether your season is one of joy or heartbreak, I see and hear you. I am rooting for you to emerge greater in your conviction and desire to see your circumstances through. My overarching message here and the takeaway I hope to provide you with is that the human experience is so multifaceted and nuanced. It was hard for me to admit and wrap my head around the fact that I struggled with yesterday’s revelation. I believe wholeheartedly that the time was right for that family to receive their blessing and I’m overcome with this boundless and substantial joy for their new chapter.
Yet a parallel exists in their moving forward and our apparent stagnancy. We started off as friends of circumstance, bonding over an experience that is unifying, equalising and highly divisive all at the same time. Yet we became more leaning on each other not just for support but to share laughter and lightness as well. I met somebody who will always know what it’s like to walk in my shoes and in that sense, I’m never alone. Above all, I have the highest empathy and regard for my partner. What he goes through on a daily basis is incomparable to the adjustments I’ve made as his significant other. It’s just a hat I now wear that often feels I’ll adjusted. The brim slips over my eyes and just like that I’m confused and without vision again.
The restrictions and limitations that apply to a sick partner also have a run on effect for the healthy partner. It is tough knowing that you miss out on opportunities despite being physically or mentally able. As a writer I promise you all the utmost honesty. These are my days unfiltered. I haven’t felt the most inspired work wise this week. I’ve attended my live lectures for college, completed course activities to the best of my ability and saved copies of previous student work for assessment reference. I know that I’ll have to knuckle down this coming week and refocus my attention on studying. It almost feels as if I took a sabbatical the past seven days, clocking out in the physical realm in order to check in with the mental and subconscious side of things.
I’ve felt somewhat drained and eager to stay in bed, although one could reasonably chalk this up to the disagreeable weather and the presence of an electric blanket. There are times where I recognise that pushing past my resistance is best and others where I just let be. My mind is a constant flurry of activity, hardly passive. I’ve found pleasure in routine, eating a staple meal of lasagne on repeat and delving into the fictional world of the Woman In The Window. During last week’s thrift store trip, I picked up this novel and The Girl On The Train for two dollars, a complete steal. To borrow the words of the wonderful John Green, I was reminded of what it felt like to be young and in love with a book. Reading was always my favourite pastime. The company I kept were books. I’d visit the library frequently, passing break times at school with the latest read that caught my eye. I like to return to the girl I was whenever possible. She kept wise habits.
It was Thursday that brought the excitement. The rising of a new sun heralding the most unexpected- a snow day. Oh yes. I woke shivering at nine am in my flimsy nightdress, the bedding partially kicked off, my foot peeking out the side. A quick glance out the window and I’d been transported to nothing short of a winter wonderland. In Australia no less. Being in the Blue Mountains we experience the brunt of the cold but such happenings are unheard of. This winter has been described as the coldest in twenty five years and I can certainly attest to that. Having just moved up this year, the adjustment period is still well underway. I can’t quite say I’m used to it. The window panes were entirely frosted over and began misting soon after I wiped them down. I wasted no time in rushing downstairs and outside, eager to experience this moment I’d dreamed of as a kid in full. Snowflakes began their twirling dancing descent, settling on my lips and turning my mane of hair icy. And my slippers? Completely and utterly soggy. By then it was time for a coffee and hot shower.
On Friday my Grandma and I headed to the local club for dinner at the Red Poppy Brasserie Restaurant. I got dressed up nicely in my new ruffled paisley number from boutique Witchery and paired it with nude tights and a chunky brown knit cardigan. I picked my Seed Heritage weave detail purse to go, popping in the essentials. We arrived to find the place packed- I was very grateful to have booked in advance! We were a little late but they’d kept our table ready. We ordered garlic bread and chicken wings for starters and then a chicken fettucine for the main. We like to share as the serves are large and no food should go to waste. Besides, there’s nothing better than leftovers. We decided to stick around after dinner and visited the main lounge where the crowd were watching the football game and waiting on raffle tickets to be drawn. I got a homestyle choc chip chunk cookie and a chai latte. We sat by the fire and it was a really cosy moment.
Another highlight of the week was receiving my first student benefit payment of two hundred and fifty. That’s the stay at home rate that our government currently adheres to. It’s a base payment but I may be eligible to supplement it with a working away from home check. To determine suitability I’ll have to get in contact with the college I’m attending and apply through them. It can’t be done directly through the Centrelink system I previously used. With that money I purchased some bigger ticket winter clothing I’d lacked. Two beautiful new jumpers from the iconic French brand Sezane and a fur lined aviator jacket in tan leather. It’s a bit of an androgynous fluid style in that you can wear it edgy for a more masculine look or with a chic feminine twist. I have plenty of ideas for the latter and dresses I hope to pair it with. I might also swap out the belt it came with to be more chic.
On the weekend my Grandma and I headed back to the apartment in Parramatta. We woke up early as we had to be there by the afternoon. My mum and brother had just had their birthdays so we invited family over for a meal and games. Earlier in the day we’d stopped at Lush and picked up a gift box and shower gel in Turkish Rose as an extra gift. We’d had my mum’s main present delivered already as it was jewellery from Mejuri. She’d been eyeing the croissant dome hoop earrings for quite a while now. I have a pair and they are one of my best investments. We also stopped in at Adairs briefly then went for lunch at Nandos. I got a mild classic pita with chicken, haloumi and mixed salad, then a side of chips. There’s something about a gourmet takeaway that really hits the spot and leaves you fulfilled.