[I started writing this before C19 struck. So there may be some weird tenses.]
Brain dump incoming. Buckle up!
As you mostly all know by now, Jen endured the almost unendurable in 2018/19 and is still healing as a result. If you’re not aware: grade 3, stage 3 breast cancer; diagnosed May 2018. Treatment consisted of seven neo-adjuvant chemotherapy cycles, targeted therapy, double mastectomy, reconstruction, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Start to finish it was around 12 months of treatment.
I’ve yet to adequately express the profundity of actually facing my wife’s mortality. The closest I can get to it right now is this: imagine every existential crisis you’re ever had in your life, every panic attack, scare, every thought about those things lurking in the dark, how really insignificant you are in the great scheme of things, that oblivion may await in a cold, uncaring universe – imagine all of those, all of them, descending on you, a single feeling of unspeakable, unthinking terror.
Something like that, I guess.
I’m still processing that day. I say ‘processing’ when I really mean ‘it’s screwed up in a tight ball, deep, deep down’. I’m trying to find healthy outlets but maybe it’ll be there forever, y’know? I’ve no idea at this point and that’s kind of life all over really. We don’t know what’s in front of us. Well, we do. I mean, death faces us all, no matter what we do – it’s just a matter of where, when and how. But we don’t know what we may have to deal with between this point and that one. So, all things being equal, shouldn’t we spend time doing things we love, with the people we love?
“Of course fucking of course!” (Sorry, Bricktop.)
Dad died Jan 2019 and I subsequently took a turn for the worse mental health-wise not long after. Looking after Jen, trying to hold down a complex, challenging project management role in the software industry, dogged with a chronic pain condition. I was done in, basically.
I’ve been treated for depression and exhaustion following these two life changing events. Some frankly amazing people stepped up to help (throughout) and it’s fair to say we would not have made it through without these people – of course, some of those people are actually *you*. You know who you are and just know that I’m here for you. You need only ask.
Subsequently, I was fortunate enough to be able to take an 8 month sabbatical to get myself back together again. Jen went back to work a couple or three weeks after being hit by the last dose of radiation. Too soon, if you ask me.
Anyway, as a result of these vagaries, our lives have changed dramatically. Longer term plans we had were often wiped out overnight. So we’d discuss workarounds and compromises. Then, hours, days or weeks later, those too would be disrupted. It got to the point where we didn’t want to plan much beyond the next day.
But we’ve come back fighting. Jen especially on the fitness and healthy eating side of things. I’ve become a vegan </smug preening> and I’ve written a book! We’ve been to several UK places in the van, spent two weeks in Spain (in an apartment) – the holiday we were forced to cancel last year for Jen’s treatment. Jen’s been to the Royal Ballet, to see The Cult, the Lion King plus so, so much more. Plus we just managed to snick a 3 week Caribbean holiday in before C19 struck – as it was striking, in fact.
Jen and I bought a largish motor caravan earlier last year (2019), for which I took and passed my manual driving license, though it turned out I didn’t need to. Only took me 20-odd years!
As of 4th Feb, we were planning to spend a few months traveling.
Itinerary as follows:
Caribbean 5th-29th Feb (done!)
UK (home for follow up treatment) 1st-14th Mar (done)
North coast 500 (15th Mar-10th/11th – 5th April (nope)
Mainland Europe (prob France and Spain, but we’re open) for the rest of the Spring and well into Summer. (nope)
We’ve kitted out the van with all the bits and pieces – power assist bikes, water sports kit and whatnot.
We were looking to visit and spend time with various family members and friends in Jamaica, Scotland and Spain, have guests stay with us when we find nice places to stop, visit GoT locations, UNESCO World Heritage sites, other historical places, plus a load of cycling, swimming, snorkeling, sun bathing, paddle boarding and whatever the hell else we want to do. Probably sleeping and eating…I suppose. But, most importantly, healing at our own pace and LIVING.
Can we fiscally afford to do it? No.
Can we spiritually afford NOT to do it? Absolutely not.