When I was in high school a friend of mine had a t-shirt that said something to the effect of “when life gives you lemons squeeze them into a squirt gun and shoot life in the eye.” It must’ve been more succinct than that, because that would be a lot of text for a t-shirt, but it always made me laugh.
Life gives a lot of lemons. Lots. To every one. And some are peak season, lots of sugar and just a little bit sour. Some come in 5 pound bags.
People spend a lot of time comparing their problems. Some people have problems that only seem like problems because their neighbor hasn’t had to deal with it. Some times people have problems that shake the very foundation of their existence as a human being.
I’m two years from being 30 years old now. It’s the first year where I really feel older. In this year nothing has changed, and yet so much has changed.
I’ve gained a new perspective into how other people live through hosting our exchange student. It’s been challenging in ways I never imagined. That seems to happen to me often.
I’ve been declared “cancer free” for the zillionth time – a feeling that never feels good enough because there is always an “if” lingering in the background.
I’ve connected with friends on a level I’ve never experienced before. I’ve signed up for volunteer positions that require a lot of time and dedication.
I’ve researched career options for my future, and settled (and re-settled) on what I (maybe) want to do with the next few years.
I’ve made decisions that will impact little G for the rest of her life.
I’ve faced rejection and abandonment.
I’ve struggled, and watched people I love struggle. The latter having affected me more emotionally than the former. I’ve been accused of caring too much, but I think it makes my experience in life more human. I don’t only get to experience my joy and pain. A blessing and a curse by some accounts, but I like who it makes me.
I’m laughed and cried and wondered and analyzed and over-analyzed. And despite that I’ve made good decisions and I’ve made bad decisions and I’ve loved deeply and been loved even more.
And it’s always the same, and yet nothing has changed. I thought when cancer took over my life that I would never be the same. That I would never experience that same day-to-day joy that used to saturate even the tiniest moments of humdrum life. And yet I find myself thinking “I love my life.” And it’s true. It’s coming back. Light, or happiness, or maybe just the peace that comes with acceptance. Satisfaction is permeating my moments again, and it’s something I never expected. Certainly not every moment, but I don’t think life was meant to be lived in a constant state of happiness. But those little moments can be happy again. Snuggling in the same spot where just two years ago I told my husband I had cancer – it’s a happy place again. The couch where I spent months laying in pain and exhaustion has regained it’s rightful place as “official family gathering spot” (though it does serve nap duty on the side). I can drive to Wegman’s without having a panic attack. Lack of regular panic attacks is definitely a reason to celebrate!
After all of that, I’m forced to remember that perspective often means more than the experience itself. The lemons in my life might be unbearable for others, or might seem like #firstworldproblems to others. I’m glad to be getting back to my equilibrium. An equilibrium that now sees cancer as something that can be conquered and the ability to appreciate, but not stress over, the less than enjoyable bits of life that make the good bits even more valuable.