I love the day-to-day sameness of life. I wake up at about the same time each morning, because my six-year-old wakes up at about the same time each morning and I am greeted by his beautiful toothless grin as he wishes me good morning. I shower, washing my hair, then face, then body. I get out and dry myself in the same order every day – face, arms, legs, front, back. Teeth cleaned, deodorant on, skin moisturised and then into bra and undies while that soaks in, make-up on, hair tamed. Iron my clothes, get dressed, downstairs to make Hugh’s lunch and my lunch and have a quick bite of breakfast before I’m out the door just before 8am. In the afternoons I’m home around 5, I cook dinner while Dave supervises homework, piano practice and footy kicking. We eat, Dave cleans up, we loll about for a while watching dodgy television and then I put Hugh to bed, always with a story first. Dave and I then watch whatever tv series we are currently obsessed with – last week it was season three of House of Cards, this week it’s season two of The Fall. Every weekday, lots of sameness. Very ordinary.
Saturdays we get up a tiny bit later, do multiple loads of washing – darks, coloureds, whites (always in that order) and then Dave and I attack the housework – he does bathrooms and toilets; I do kitchen and floors. After that I pick up my mum and we go grocery shopping. The afternoons are a bit more fluid – maybe a playdate, maybe lunch out, maybe some fun shopping, maybe a nap. Saturday night is wine or cider, sometimes takeaway, sometimes a night out with friends. Sunday is sleep-in, more washing, park time, play time, then cooking a few meals ahead for the week, and making something remotely healthy for lunch boxes. Sunday is the day banana bread for morning teas seems like a good idea, until Monday comes around and nobody likes banana bread. Weekends are relaxing in their ordinariness.
The thing is, there is so much joy in my ordinary life. So much pleasure in the sameness. In 2012 and 2013, my life was punctuated by scans, diagnoses, surgeries, treatments, illness and despair. There was no ordinary; life was upside down and inside out. I craved normalcy, but there was none to be had. Christmas 2012 my present was a gorgeous pair of earrings that the jeweller told my husband would suit someone with short hair (I guess no hair is the shortest kind of hair), New Year’s Day 2012 was spent having a cytotoxic infusion, later that January my son started school for the first time as I again went off to chemotherapy, and then we celebrated his 5th birthday the day I finished radiation, with third degree burns weeping through three layers of bandages and clothing. So little ordinary, so much fucking horrible.
But, thanks to a mix of the wonders of medical science and plain and simple good luck, I got a second chance at ordinary. I’m now 2 years, five months and five days into a remission that I was only given a 50% chance of having. I look like an ordinary person; I have hair, I can walk more than 100 metres without needing to sit down, my skin isn’t grey, my face isn’t bloated, and I don’t have a catheter sticking out of my chest. I am an ordinary person; I make my son the same school lunch every day, I sleep in my mismatched pyjamas in bed next to my husband every night, and I absolutely fucking revel in all of the ordinary, the normal, the same.
There is, however, one neither normal nor ordinary thing that cancer has given me that I plan to hold onto, and tightly. Just under a year ago, inspired by the tales my prosthetic right breast had to share, I started this blog. In those 11 months, I’ve had a small but dedicated group of readers who’ve encouraged me to keep telling my stories and who’ve inspired me to think and write, to put into words (and dodgy memes) my pain and happiness, and joys and fears. Then, last week I wrote a post about children and friendship – or maybe it was about bigotry and intolerance – or maybe it was just about love – and it’s safe to say that it went absolutely fucking nuts. More than 250,000 – yes, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND, people viewed my post via Facebook shares. A quarter of a million people read my words, heard my voice, felt my anger and my sadness, and expressed their own. The resulting conversations, via comments here on the blog, on Facebook, Twitter and via email have had the most incredible impact on me, and I am abuzz with the power of words and the possibilities they bring.
A little bit of extraordinary in a life more ordinary.