I am especially sentimental this time of year. And not because of Christmas, but because of the upcoming New Year. I spend the last 30 days of the year looking back at the goals I’ve set over the past five years and thinking about what I want for the future.
At this time last year, we were 17 months into my husband’s cancer treatment. He had been through 8 months of chemo, 13 hours of surgery, 35 blasts of radiation, and so many trips to the hospital I have lost track. I had spent 450 nights wondering how we would continue to pay the bills while I tried to grow my fledgling business and hover at the edge of his every want and need. But I had set some lofty goals for my business and landed a contract that would ease the financial burden. It felt then as it does now, like some magic gift from the Universe — no matter that it required the same level of attention that my caregiving did. You learn your true power when your back is up against a wall.
During Tim’s journey through cancer, I kept a log of what we were doing and how we felt. This gave us a benchmark for his progress and the ability to look back and remember the fun we did have, even though life handed him a bullshit sack of lemons. It also gave me an outlet for the double life I was living that was a product of him not wanting to know he was terminal, but me knowing from day one. Last year in Tim’s journal, I wrote the following:
Tried talking to him several times about his depression. He said he is doing ok. Just frustrated with feeling like shit and the unknown. I reminded him that experiencing depression during cancer is probably pretty normal. And this is the life we have. Waiting just wastes it. I don’t know if he is ok. I don’t know if I am ok. I just keep getting up for work, remembering to center on gratitude, and to forgive myself for anger and lack of patience. The doggies are good listeners.
At the time we were experiencing all of this, the thing that was most difficult was the man depression and the subsequent guilt that hangs over you when you become angry or short with someone who is terminally ill.
So as I set my goals for 2020 the first two of my goals were about being a more loving and patient partner. The last three were about investing in myself for the health of my business that was shouldering our financial future. The day that I wrote my goals marked 60 days for the morning my husband would wake up and be unable to communicate. When that day came, I had to make a flurry of decisions about how and where we would spend his final days.
I don’t remember our last words to each other. I hope they were kind. I hope they were patient. And though he couldn’t tell me, I am certain he would have said that I did my best. Those goals I set to be a more loving partner, perform small acts of kindness every day and listen without the intent to respond, you can bet are ones that I will carry into 2021.
As you set your goals for 2021, I hope that patience and kindness are at the top of your list. To give and receive grace is what love is truly about.
Life is short. Do the damn thing babes.