We have deviated in every which way from our former normal, and each day seems to bring a new variation. From those deviations, we have made progress. Some days it doesn’t feel like progress; it feels like a kick in the gut, but in hindsight we always see growth. We’re currently in the process of that growth revealing itself to us after finding out that there are additional months of treatment that we were unaware of. Frustration, confusion, and exhaustion sometimes mask progress but I believe, with time, the dust will settle and we will see how far we’ve come- spiritually, mentally, and physically.
In January, we had just begun the journey of going through a whirlwind of life experiences and emotions and I was desperate for a constant. I yearned to latch onto something that I knew would allow me to escape. My mind wandered when I tried to read and nothing on TV seemed funny anymore, but I do love to run. In Lithuania, that was how I passed my time every morning and it always allowed my mind to be blank. That sounds weird and not very appealing to some, but I feel that sometimes it’s helpful to shut off your mind and not have to think or worry. So our nurses, as they ALWAYS did, went above and beyond and delivered a treadmill to our (already crammed) hospital room. I was ecstatic.
That evening, I laced up my tennis shoes and began to run. I had not left the hospital in a week and my legs longed to stretch and run for miles. I thought to myself, “This is wonderful. I can run but never have to leave Andrew’s side.” But when I looked over my shoulder, the sight of Andrew lying in his hospital bed, receiving his chemotherapy completely shattered my heart and stopped my feet from running one more step. Tears fled over my cheeks and the incomprehension hit me like a ton of bricks. “How was it possible that Andrew has cancer? This isn’t fair. It’s not fair that I can run freely while he has to sit in a hospital bed getting a drug that completely wipes out his entire body; the body that just weeks ago was healthily running up and down the court.” After that meltdown, I refused to run. For a little while I tried, but with each step I was reminded of the injustice that I could run and Andrew could not. And that was just not something I could handle.
It’s now summer. Together, Andrew and I ride bikes at least three times a week and run daily. Progress. In between the bitter cold of January and the mugginess of June, there were some pretty miserable days; days that masked the progress we were making. In the days that Andrew could not even physically get out of bed, it certainly didn’t feel like we were moving forward. It felt like a life of physical activity and days filled with sunshine and tennis was a lifetime away. But after each of these immobile days, we became stronger. Stronger because we had handled the adversity with as much grace and understanding as we had in us. Stronger because Andrew never complained and wallowed in self-pity of any kind. We were stronger because we were progressing instead of becoming debilitated.
Progress is impossible without change. When that change is forced, it is easy to refuse progress because of the lack of recognition of a potential better life. We can dig in our heels and think that if we refuse to move forward things will stop changing. But life keeps moving whether you choose to participate in the transformation or not; why not choose to make that a positive, progressive life?
“Focus on progression, not perfection.” (Unknown)