Monday, June 21, 2010

Normal

About a month ago, I was talking to someone about Rachael and some of the things we've been through in the past year. He looked pretty amazed and said something along the lines of, "People who are not in that position cannot even imagine what it would be like." I responded, "Actually, I think you'd be surprised that it doesn't really take long at all to adapt and modify your vision of normal."

Soon it will be a year that we have had cancer in our lives and that truth still amazes me. Rachael's and our family's ability to bounce back quickly from cancer interruptions is a divine gift, of that I am convinced. We do not waste time dwelling on what is hard with this disease, we put it behind us and our "normal" becomes just that. Normal. Which is why it is sometimes difficult for me to hear that question, "How's Rachael doing," said with such concern and purpose. Because you know, usually she is just fantastic but sometimes what I really want to say is, "Great, but let me tell you about Marc." Or, "Do you want her? Because she's acting very bratty today!" Or simply, "Why do you ask?" Because she HAS been through a lot but our thoughts do not revolve around this disease and the little daily ways it affects us are dealt with and have been seamlessly integrated into our lives. To have that "normal" interrupted by reminders, albeit compassionate and lovely gestures of concern, can sometimes feel a little odd.

Which is why our medical visits are becoming a little harder than usual, I think.

Heading back to the Ronald McDonald House and meeting new friends who are struggling far more than we ever have, to the point of fighting for their children's lives is painful. Sitting and crying with my friend Regina as she struggles with God and wonders how long to encourage her 19-year old son to fight was heart-wrenching. Seeing sweet Gabi seize and finding out when she got to hospital she didn’t stop for 7 hours was horrible. Rachael’s battle pales in comparison but still interrupts and invades our lives at best and can sometimes hurt an awful lot. I hate being reminded just how serious cancer specialists take her diagnosis. Funny... I generally cannot stand dismissive doctors but I miss the innocence of that being my biggest medical concern. Now I’ve seen my daughter wrapped like a papoose and put through at PET scan machine after having her veins pumped with very painful radioactive chemicals so they can make sure she doesn’t have cancer growing in brain.

She doesn’t. For now.

And there are others who escaped and get to go home too. Most of the people I have met actually do get to continue on and leave the daily reminders of their disease. They get to face their normal. I wonder if they go through a culture shock of sorts like I did. I wonder if returning for check-ups is like coming home for them or if it feels like they are in a foreign land they once lived in but now feels strange. I wonder if I am the only one who can physically feel the emotional temperature of the RMH and hospital if I spend any more than 24 hours there.

I wonder if the “new normal” will ever stop feeling new and just go back to normal.

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