Sunday, February 27, 2005

One year ago today... and today 

At this time, one year ago today, my husband Paul had already been in surgery for two hours. He would be in surgery for ten more.

At this time, one year ago today, I was sitting in the surgical waiting room at the University of Washington Medical Center. As places to spend a day worrying go, the UW waiting room was quite nice. It's a lovely room, located on a corner of the building, with full height windows providing southerly views onto gardens, trees and the ship channel beyond. Soft chairs and love seats are arranged in conversational areas, tables with chairs provide a place to eat or write. A long work surface with data ports provides internet access, and there'’s a large desk on which sits the all-important telephone connecting the room to the operating rooms. I was the first person there, so I had my choice of location. I picked a spot near the corner of the two window walls, from which I could see both the gardens and the door.

At this time, one year ago today, I had already sent a short blog post out to our friends and family. This is what it said:

After weeks of actively gathering information and making choices about Paul's treatment, we've reached the point where, at least for today, it's out of our hands. This experience feels like an amusement park we didn't choose to visit. The past few weeks were the bumper cars; we could make decisions, and try to choose a direction, but we never knew when or from where the next jolt was coming. And now we've gotten on the roller coaster. We're strapped in, and heading up that first long incline. Clack, clack, clack. Once we reach the top, gravity takes over. We can decide whether to scream or laugh, hold our hands up in the air or hang on for dear life. Clack, clack, clack...

At this time, one year ago today, I sat alone, sipping a latte, waiting for my parents and friends to arrive and keep me company through the rest of a very long day.

At this time, today, one year later, I sit at my computer, sipping the latte that Paul just brought me. Paul is in our bedroom, reading the Sunday NY Times. I can hear him talking to one of our cats. He is - knock on wood, god willing and every other cliched, hopeful, superstitious phrase one might use here - free of cancer. He is still adjusting to the persistent, and perhaps permanent, effects of the surgery on his body. Things are a little better every day.

In a few hours, one year later, we're having a party. Although my parents won't be here, a number of the friends who sat with me last year will be. On that day, they brought me chocolate; this year, I am baking chocolate treats for them.

Most importantly, one year later, Paul is still here, and will be by my side when our friends arrive to celebrate that with us.