During Pete’s illness what I missed the most was the everydayness. It wasn’t the holidays or the dinners at restaurants, it wasn’t the concerts or live theatre, it wasn’t the thrilling successes at work. It was the long lazy meals we’d have when everyone was back from school and uni, the meandering conversations and the laughter. It was coming up to my office to write, the phone call catch-ups with friends, my early morning walks, my horse and my dog. Most of all though, I missed Pete. I missed his body in bed next to mine, I missed the hair on his head, I missed his mind, yes probably his mind the most. I missed the fact that he wasn’t the confidante I’d had for twenty-six years, that I had to think before I told him things, had to wonder if they would upset him, if it was really necessary for him to know, or if he would even care – his mind so distracted by his disease and its treatment. I missed his laughter and his smile, but most of all I missed his arms, wrapped around me, telling me everything would be all right.
I remember driving in over our bridge one day when Pete was in the thick of one of his sick times, turning to him and saying, ‘You never really think it’s going to be like this. I mean, when we got married we said and meant the whole in sickness and in health thing, but you don’t really think about it do you? You don’t really think it will be the two of you?’
He shook his head, ‘No, you don’t.’
And then there was a brief moment at the end of Pete’s treatment when he started to feel better and we started to see all sorts of freedoms come back in to our life. I found that I was no longer spending every minute of my day thinking about Pete, wondering where he was, what he was doing, if he needed help, if he was going to need me around. All of a sudden he was up and about, venturing out by himself. All of that time that had disappeared from me was rapidly being returned. I could walk and ride and come back to my beloved office and pick up where I left off with my writing. I could think about my work again as a craniosacral therapist.
And it was sunny, so sunny for two days, maybe three, maybe even longer. And I could feel it on the back of my neck, on my cheeks, warming me right through my skin. And then, just when we’d tasted freedom, felt the expansion of it in our hearts, Pete got told he had to go back in for two more rounds of chemo. And even though we knew we were the lucky ones, we knew we were blessed, because he was going to live to meet our grandchildren, to travel around the world in the back of a campervan with me. We were still brought to our knees. Two more rounds after six seemed almost insurmountable.
It was then that I realised with a clarity I’d never known before that this was life. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t set in stone, it wasn’t guaranteed. There would always be ups and downs, the sublime and the not so pretty. So those days that were doused in everydayness, full of freedom and sunshine in the simplicity of everything being ok, not out of this world, just landed my dream job or going on the holiday of a lifetime days, but the simple days that you wake up to, the routine of your small life shining in through the window. They were the days to rejoice in, be present in and send whatever light it is that guides you, gratitude, never once taking them for granted. Because I can promise you, the boringness and frustration and beauty of them won’t always be there, and when it’s not you will miss those days so much more than every extravagance and excitement life has to offer.