Last night I gave my sweet friend in Chicago a hard time. “I’m dead serious missy, you keep that snow to yourself.”
Clearly, she didn’t listen. By 5:30 this morning, we have about three inches on the ground and though that isn’t a lot, or anything really to think of, school has been cancelled. I don’t think we are expecting much in accumulation, it’s really more about the changeover to sleet and freezing rain.
I told my husband, “I think this winter is going to kill us.” He agreed.
We seem to be stuck in a pattern of storms. It’s the sort of thing that would go unnoticed most years, or at least not be cause for more than a casual comment or complaint about the weather, but this winter is different. This winter has us all on edge.
My poor mother can’t get warm. We keep turning up the heat, layering her in sweaters and blankets, but the cold settles into her bones and triggers her fibromyalgia. There’s a reason people move to warmer climates. I hear my brother on the phone, asking my son to watch out for Nana. “Don’t let her walk on the ice,” he says, petrified she will fall.
I know the weather is hard on her. My mom is not one to sit still. She likes to go and do and keep busy. Snow days are not her thing. Roads too slick for driving, biting winds. This isn’t her sunny So Cal. For years she has sworn she’d never come back to NY in the winter, and yet, here she is. Here we all are.
I think this cancer may be a game changer for me. I’ve never made a secret of my desire to eventually go home to California, to figure out a way to resettle there, somewhere on the Central Coast, closer to my mom and my family. I don’t really have a timeline or a plan, but I hold on to the hope that someday it will happen.
Cancer reminds us that life is short. And there are no promises. Yesterday I felt a moment of panic, a worry that I might not beat this thing, that even if I do, it could come back as a secondary cancer in my bones or somewhere else. I can’t shake the image of my cousin Tina, her heartbreaking story of cancer, remission, clinical trials, experimental drugs and still the cancer kept coming back. I know so many breast cancer survivors, but not everyone survives.
I let the weather anchor me to the day. If I’m thinking about storms, I’m not thinking about dying. For everything, there is a season. This is my season to fight. Winter is cancer. But soon it will be summer and I will be 3,000 miles away, cancer-free with my feet in the sand. I will feel the sun on my face and I will know that I am okay.
And winter will be nothing more than a memory.