Just get in the boat.

If  you live in the Pacific Northwest you will know that we have had 50 days of rain in the last 60 days. SO MUCH RAIN. This time last year Truth and I were boarding a plane to Sayulita, Mexico to visit our dear friends the Chomlacks who were spending a month down there. I can not tell you how thankful I am that we did. The warmth, the ocean, the colors and the quality time with our friends. More and more I have realized since that trip that when these opportunities arise you take them. We can make many excuses as to why we shouldn’t go. The money, the logistics, the time away from family etc. etc. Lots of excuses. Looking back it was that time in Mexico that would fill my soul and my well so completely  and so deeply that I would have the reserves to sustain me through the next  months and year ahead. Ignorance is bliss.

*warning this may be long winded:)

Coming home I knew the winter season would be busy. Christmas, snowboarding contests, life with four kids, the usual.  We did not know that the Christmas holidays would be filled with a hospital stay for Journey. I wrote about that a few posts back. My well drained a but I had reserves. She healed, we nested and we rallied. Spring came and I was thankful to be entering a new season. I was enjoying my two jobs immensely. I could not be more thankful to be working with brand new moms and their babies. It is the most scarey, incredible,rewarding, humbling job… becoming a mom and I feel honored to be walking alongside these new moms and their babes. With spring comes re-birth. It also brought  big change for our family. Ben decided to move on from his job in Vancouver and join our family full-time in Whistler. I could  not have been more proud and excited for this new chapter and how he walked it out.  For the last 17 years he has worked incredibly hard for our family,  so that I could stay home and raise our humans. A decision we have never regretted but also required great sacrifice. For both of us. Now was his time. To breathe, to dream, to not get up at 6am and drive the long hwy into work. We saved so he could take a much needed break and it was exciting and terrifying. ” What’s next” everyone keeps asking. We have no idea….. but it’s going to be great, whatever it looks like. Again, we can make all the excuses in the world as to  why we should stay in a job, money, logistics, security but sometimes you just need to walk away. Let go. Believe that there is more, even if more is just being at home every night for dinner with your family or at your kids school plays. For us it was time.

Summer was fast approaching and we were just taking each day as it came. For the first time in a really long time we could get up and do whatever we wanted. We were not bound by “work”. Some days we would load the dirt bikes up,  pack a picnic and drive to remote logging roads and just ride. Deeper and deeper into the wilderness.The mountains, the rivers, the silence.  This filled my well. Some days we  would just sit in a coffee shop and dream and giggle at the fact we did it. I looked forward to more days like this in the summer. I hoped for many, warm lake days and maybe a road trip or two.

School ended and I was ready. Ready for no routine and and excited for yet another new season. Life feels full but so good as well. We are surrounded by an incredible community and I am thankful. The people I love are healthy and happy… and then they weren’t.

It still amazes me how one minute life can be so calm and sweet and carefree and the next it isn’t. Things can change in a heartbeat. I should know this better than anyone. I have lived this time and again. I mean most people have…. And yet when my best friend tells me she has cancer, I am shocked, gutted, blindsided and sad. ” No not you…. no.. no there must be a mistake.” Many of you know that for the last 4 months my person, my ” sister”, my sidekick has been battling an aggressive form of breast cancer. Many of you have checked in on me and asked me how I am doing as you know I have walked this road before. I figured it was time I told you.  We found out in July.  I went to the appts. with her and the first biopsy. I had convinced myself that it was not cancer. That it was a cyst or something else, she’s too young…no family history.. not cancer. We took our boys to Kelowna for a fun few days. Again just do it. Just get in the car and go and don’t make a thousand excuses as to why you shouldn’t go. It was four days of good eating, good drinking, tons of laughing and again ignorance was bliss.

This kind of news hits you like a Tsunami. Waves of grief for life as we know it has changed in an instant. A feeling of great loss for her, her family and mine. The fear of telling our kids. The fear of the unknown and magnitude and weight of the decisions she has to make in the coming weeks and months. Do I run? Do I try to avoid another loss or excruciating heart pain? No… this is not her story. This is not our story. This story is different I write it in my journal from day one. I will not run.  Nope…. Life is like being on the open ocean. Some days it is like glass and as calm as the eye can see but sometimes the waves are huge and scarey and overwhelming. Do I want her to be in the boat, in this storm alone? Of course not, so I get in the boat. I make the decision to stay in the boat with her. Not matter what the sea looks like. No matter what this day and the days and months ahead hold.

See here’s the thing…. when you find your person or your people you don’t get to decide what you go through together even if you have been through it before.  You don’t get to choose the circumstances that will shape your friendship. You do however get to choose how you will respond. Despite the pain and ache you get to choose whether or not you will show up. It might be scary. It might not look pretty. It might make you uncomfortable and it might rock the boat.But if she can walk through this fire with the grace and dignity she does then I can too. Again you get to choose how you will respond. It just so happens I am really good at the medical stuff. If I can take anything positive about Journey being in the hospital so many times it is that I can do hospitals. I know them, they don’t scare me. I don’t like them but I am not afraid of them. I have had the privlilege  of accompanying Stace to many of her appointments. Of holding her hand, joking inappropriately, waiting in waiting rooms and taking notes when receiving info. I am humbled and in awe at how she is walking through this… how she responds.   She gets the info and runs with it. With every fiber of her being she fights… she will be well. Some days are easier than others. Some days I can distract her, make her laugh, make her food, or do her laundry. Some days I can not. These are the hardest days. When nothing I do or say can take away from the fact that this sucks..that she has cancer, that she still has two more rounds of chemo and surgery. I can’t fix her…. I can’t take it away. Do I run? No, I stay in the boat. If she can stay in it, sit in it despite how high the waves may get or how rough the water churns…. then so can I.

As I watch her fight, there is a feeling deep inside my gut that feels familiar. I have fought too. I fought to live, I fought to be ok. I fought for my family.  I did not fight cancer but I fought for my life. My body failed me but my mind failed me more. I don’t know what chemo feels like, I don’t know what it feels like to lose my hair. But I  do know what it feels like to lose my memory and to feel like I lost myself…. my dignity. There is a quiet, unspoken understanding. It’s different but what is not different is that if I had known her then she would have been in the boat with me. AND she would have brought the best, high end rain coats, some super cute wellies and probably some yummy drinks.

So again.. many of  you have  asked how I am doing and thank you for that. The truth is  I am ok. I am taking one day at a time. I am choosing not to be afraid of what I do not know. I am choosing to joke inappropriately. I am choosing to acknowledge that this is a different story.  Some days I am incredibly sad that she and her family have to endure this. Then some days I am overwhelmed with gratitude and deep joy that I have a friendship that will last and weather any storm. That cancer doesn’t define us. That this is just another part of our story. Many days I look ahead to the many adventures we have yet to take. To India, back to Mexico, to Spain or wherever else our boat takes us. Today we are ok…and today the water’s are calm and peaceful. Not sure what tomorrow will hold for a job for Ben, for my my dear friend, or for my family but I do know that today we are ok and I so look forward to what the future holds. Here’s hoping those 50 days of rain will soon turn to 50 days of snow. Then we will trade the boat in for a snowmobile:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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