Month: October 2020

Autumn is here and so am I

Fish Creek Park: September 19th

October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

Rainbow Rowell from the novel Attachments

Autumn is – by far – my favourite season. I love the cooler temperatures, the fresher air, the changing colours. Even though I haven’t been to school in years I still want my planners to start in September. I still buy myself new pens and other school-like supplies. September always seems like the start of all things good and the end of October feels like the real time to celebrate the new year.

Autumn is short where I live. I often joke that it starts in the middle of August here in Alberta but it’s a joke based in reality. The days can still be really hot but the air coming over the mountains is changing enough that the nights are getting cooler and the grass and leaves also start to get that first hint of yellow. People can complain all they want (and they do, is there anything people like to complain about more than the weather?) but I’ve found the only sane way to live in this world is to accept the seasons as they are for where you live. Just because the calendar says that a season changes on a certain date doesn’t mean anything. I mean, by December 21st we have usually had a month and a half of cold and snow so thinking that winter “starts” on that date is absurd.

This year we are having a long and glorious autumn. It may seem weird to you but it is really something that we haven’t had one snow storm yet – they don’t last but usually by this time the jokes about Snowtember or Snowtober have been made. Facebook memories recently showed me photos of the girls playing in the snow around this time last year.

Fish Creek Park: September 26th.

Autumn in the time of Covid is a new experience. I think we are trying to hold on to it tighter than ever this year for fear of when the cold weather pushes us all indoors. It is still easy to get out and go for long walks and we have been traveling to the other edge of the city to take walks in Fish Creek Park. This is something I look forward to all week long. We walk, we look for deer, we spend time watching bees have afternoon naps in the warm autumn sun, we hang out near the river and stay off the main paths with the crazy cyclists who seem determined to run people down. The girls put their feet in the river and let the minnows nibble on their toes.

Fish Creek Park: October 3rd.

Fish Creek is a massive park that is still in the city so it feels like getting out of the city without actually having to drive for a couple hours. This time last year the only time I could go to a park is if someone would push me in my wheelchair. These days I can do a good 2 to 3 km walk (with stops to sit and enjoy just being outside). My feet hurt at the end of it and I’m often paying for it the next day (this is a symptom of my current chemotherapy) but it is a small price that I am very willing to pay. These days I want to experience as many parks as I can. We encourage the girls to spend as much time outside as possible with their friends because once the cold hits we will be inside and isolated again (unless we toughen ourselves up some more).

Canmore Park.

To be honest I barely remember autumn last year. I was so sick (had started IV chemo in August and it failed but I still had to endure many weeks of it and lost my hair again) and in a lot of pain. I’ve discovered something over the course of this past year though – another year of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. Of many rounds of radiation and playing around with pain medications and going from being handicap to being active again knowing that this is all temporary. I’ve learned that I really need to take these good moments and celebrate them when I can. Really celebrate them.

I’ve learned that even though my disease is by definition “terminal” – until my oncologist tells me I am out of options and to go home and get my affairs in order then I am not dying. I’m still here. I’m the same woman I’ve always been – even if not every one can see that. I’m still here – which is exactly where I want to be.

On a walk last weekend with my friend Lisa at River Park.

Leave a comment and let me know what your favourite part of autumn is? It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and we are hoping to be able to do an outdoors version with our family where everyone brings their own food and then a small at-home celebration for the five of us. I feel like two celebrations makes good sense because we have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Is there anything more exciting than meeting some deer in the woods?

Sometimes good things end and you are both happy and sad.

Something rather amazing happened this week. Well, both sad and amazing. I think I mentioned many posts (and months) back that I wrote an article for THIS Magazine called: Leaving A Literary Legacy about reading to my daughters. I have talked about this many times on numerous platforms since my diagnosis – that the thought of not being around to share certain things with my daughters leaves me feeling anxious and panicky. I remember when I was first diagnosed thinking: “But now I’m never going to get to read all of the Harry Potter books to my girls.” And while that may seem weird to some people (uh, what about how you won’t be able to stick around for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES??) it became kind of the pinnacle thing I wanted to do with them. I mean, sure, there are a million things I want to do with them and I’m still here so I’m always adding to the list which grows and changes as they grow and change – but the one thing that never changed was wanting to share these books with them. Also, physically, it was an easier thing to do than, say, anything that involved being physically healthy.

On Wednesday night I read the final chapter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to my youngest daughter – thus closing the chapter on one of the major post-diagnosis goals I had set for myself.

I know so much has been going on with the author of these books lately and I’ve read them enough times to see the flaws in them, but I’m not here to talk about that. The Harry Potter series got me through a really rough depression in my 20s. It gave me a hopeful narrative to get lost in. It gave me something to look forward to waiting for a new book to be released. I can’t count how many times I have read this series – both to myself and aloud to my girls. And the other night when finished reading the final book to my youngest daughter it felt like a major milestone was achieved.

I’m still here! I did it!

And then I thought: So what’s next?

I know it’s weird that my goals aren’t things like: be here for their high school graduation or their wedding. But I’m trying to be realistic. This past year was so hard physically and emotionally that being able to complete this small goal feels massive. I hope, years from now, that the girls will look back and realize has amazingly special it was to share this together. And how awesome their mom is at reading aloud. I mean, seriously, I even do (very subtle) voices. Someone should hire me to narrate audio books. All those years of going to Fine Arts schools and studying theatre was obviously good for something.

So now what?