I am not the only person who will be rejoicing the end of 2012. Not that 2012 was inherently a bad year but it seems that everything that could go wrong went wrong last year.
For the first 6 months of 2012, I spent my time wondering if I would be one of the people that was going to confront ‘cancer’ and how I would manage the fallout. When I say fallout, I am referring to the reaction of people who know me very well. In May, I made the decision to tell my husband, my family and my team. I was astounded at the reaction. It ranged from disappointment to consternation. My partner and husband of nearly 30 years was disappointed that he wasn’t told. I understand that. I am not a person who believes that you communicate uncertainty. I can tell you that he would have been the first person on the list, followed by my daughter, my mother, friends, and then those who happened to be in my orbit when the news broke. It is ultimately character building to go through the journey alone. I learned a lot about myself. I am not sure that a lot of it was positive but it was to quote my mother, ‘a test of internal fortitude’. There were days when getting up was a major test of will between me and the voice in my head that said ‘just go back to sleep .. no one will notice if you don’t show up.’
In early July, I received the good news. My cancer markers came back clean. It was news that I could share with Terry. I wish everyone could have a Terry in their life. He is the person who unconditionally accepts me as I am and would walk through the fires of hell to make sure that I come out the other side in one piece.
We made the decision to take a mini-vacation. I had to work but we decided to take a trip that would allow us to spend time alone. In our world, the best place to find time together is in a car travelling wherever and whenever. There was no requirement to get up or go to bed. It was our choice.
If you haven’t driven the road between Kenora and Fort Francis, you have no idea what you are missing. It is one of the few places on the planet where you can leave the world behind and just be one with nature. Terry drove and I was able to think and just watch the world go by. It was amazing.
We were able to spend time with friends. Andy, Carol, Roger, Jen, and the others, too many to list, made our vacation memorable. They are people who make you feel good just being in the same room with them.
When we left Carol and Roger’s home in Wausau on July 13th, we were going to complete one of the things on our bucket list. We were going to drive the western shore of Lake Superior. We were going to find a place to stay somewhere between Wausau and St. Genevieve. For some reason, we decided to head for home. For those of you who travel, you understand the concept that there is no place to sleep that will be as good as your own bed. It was a good decision.
On July 14th, my mother had a medical incident that required her to be placed on a life flight out of Northern Manitoba. My aunt drove from north eastern Ontario to provide support and be the voice of sober second thought. My mother’s friend, David, phoned daily and played the most amazing piano music through my cell phone placed by her ear. David is a wonderful pianist and I am sure that my mother heard every note. For the next week, our family and friends spent time at her bedside.
One of the hardest decisions that one will ever make is to honour the wishes of your family. Since my father died in 1978, my mother was emphatic. She was to be left to what the future would hold. Her wishes weren’t necessarily our wishes. But, it was our responsibility to make sure that we honoured her wishes rather than our personal wants and needs. We did. I am more than willing to admit that if there was anything that we could have done to keep her here living the quality of life that she wanted that we would have done it. It was not to be.
I learned that I am tougher than I thought. But, your character is formed by your response to the events in your life. My mother’s unexpected demise has provided me with the opportunity to reflect and grow. I can hear my mother in my head …’It is okay, dear. It will build your character.’ Well, Mom, you are right. It has forged a character in steel for all of us.
The fall was a time for reflection and growth. I was honoured to work with a really cool dude named Tom Cooper. Between the two of us, we developed a course entitled ‘From Hot Shot to The Top’. It is a course that we wished we had been able to take when we were transitioning from being technical experts to leaders. Tom, like Terry, is one of those people that you are grateful to have in your life.
As the year came to an end, I worked, thought, wrote, grieved and grew. The biggest lesson that I take from this year is that ‘it is the relationships that you build that will sustain you during the tough times.’
I want to acknowledge the really cool people that have been supporting our family. If I forget one of you, it isn’t because I have forgotten but that this blog would go on forever.
- Nathaniel, Ashleigh, and Nicholas: You are truly cool humans and you help keep it real.
- Shirley and Kevin: Because you are the parents of three great kids and are making it work in spite of it all.
- Ruth and Andy: Ruth and Andy just because you are who you are. When I called, Ruth didn’t waste any time and drove across Ontario to be there.
- Kim and Jan: I just bet you didn’t think it would be this exciting. You are doing a great job. Keep it up.
- David, Dennis and family: For everything that you ever did for my mother, you have become honorary Wallace / Young family members. Not sure if it is a blessing or a curse. The one really good thing that you can say about the Wallace clan is that “when we are fighting each other, the neighbours are safe.” I know that there is no one else in Snow Lake that my mother considered a ‘go to’ person. So, for that reason, you get added to our very dysfunctional family.
- Andy, Carol, Roger, Jen, and family: You are truly my second family and I appreciate each one of you more than you know and likely more than I have told you.
- Karen, Saskia, Lori, Tom, Holly, Tom, Peggy, Jen and so many others. Each one of you brings a special ingredient to my life. From the pragmatic to the innovative, you have individually helped make 2012 a better year. When I tell people that there are people that I can call any time for any reason, you are on the list. I know that if I call that you will listen and when all else fails tell me that it is time to suck it up and get on with life.
2012 was a year of challenges and you have no idea how much you have contributed to the welfare of our family, both professionally and personally.
My commitment to you is that 2013 will be the year where the blog is written on a more consistent basis (at least, bi-weekly) and my colleagues have committed to participating as guest bloggers so that you will get more diverse opinions. They are the best and will share with you their ideas, thoughts, and passions.
To each and every one of you, I wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013.