I remember wanting 2020 to end. I was done with everything about 2020. I left my job in 2020 to teach my son. My father-in-law moved in with us in 2020, and we discovered he was well into dementia. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, chondrosarcoma to be precise. He had his hip replaced and was told he would likely be ok if his 6-month scan was clear. To top it all off, there was the enormous elephant in the room, covid. That was 2020. 2021 would be better. Right? …..Right??
We spent the year lining up our woes and evaluating how long until they would be fixed. The approval of the vaccine in late 2020 started us down that path of thinking. Now, at the end of 2021, I can safely say that line of thinking isn’t the best approach. Some things resolved, other things popped up, and still others simply evolved. The light at the end of the tunnel always seems to push back.
What is better at the end of 2021 than it was at the end of 2020? Well, all of us being vaccinated is a big plus, but with Omicron looming large, that leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth. My son is back in school. Being with kids and other people have helped him with socializing and we’re getting more time to unwind. My father-in-law was moved into memory care in October, which is better for all of us. It is a guilt-inducing act, but he’s better taken care of, we’re not nearly as stressed out, and my son is getting more attention from his “happier” parents.
That word, “happier”, deserves quotes because the driving factor that forced us to move my FIL out was my cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer, detected by a routine mammogram in June (actual diagnosis at the end of July). I spent the last half of 2021 dealing with the insanity that a cancer diagnosis brings on. I spent the last quarter of 2021 in chemo. I’ll spend the first part of 2022 recovering from a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The good side is the cancer was caught super early, is highly treatable, and shows no signs of having spread.
People have told me I’ve had a great attitude about the whole thing and to some extent that’s true, but it really did break me for a while. I accomplished little to nothing in August and September. My outward persona though was calm rationality. I needed that. It’s part of who I am to be calm in the storm on the outside. Inside, I was a mess.
Another reason I was trying to keep it together was because in April(ish), my brother-in-law’s cancer came back. My family was getting a double hit of cancer and it was hard for everyone to deal with mentally. That 6-month scan was clear as we hoped, and the beginning of the year, we all thought he was in the clear and simply needed to get through rehab and regain the strength in his leg. Then, he had more pain than he expected, they scanned again, and the cancer was back. He went through chemo, and when that didn’t work, they took his leg. My first appointment at the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic in Scottsdale was the day they amputated his leg. It was a hard day for all of us. Again, we thought he would be in the clear after the amputation. Again, the cancer came back.
In November, two days after his 42nd birthday, he died at home with his wife and older brother at his bedside. My husband and his sister made it out in time to see him and say goodbye. Then, a couple weeks later, they had his wrap party (Jon worked in the movie industry) and my husband attended that. I missed it because I was in the middle of chemo.
So, we leave 2021 with a couple of good things, a lot of things to look forward to that will hopefully stay in the near future, and without Jon. We hope for a better and brighter 2022, but if the comparison between 2020 and 2021 is any indication, it can go either way.