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Well, damn. Another birthday, and I have never been happier to close the door on a year. My forty-fifth year was supposed to ease me gently into supposed adulthood, with a girls’ trip to Vegas, a summer of drawing in sketchbooks, our kids moving forward in school, work humming along, time with my folks…the best laid plans and all that, eh?

Instead, Forty-Five slapped the drink out of my hand, turned on the overhead lights, scratched the needle off the record, spun me around, kicked me out the door, dumped a bucket of cold water over my head and then slammed the door.

It was a year ago Friday that we got Dave’s cancer diagnosis. Is there ever anything so terrifying? Suddenly, everything that Dave and I had intended for our life, for our future, was declared hypothetical. The girls went to Vegas, but Dave, the kids, and I went to my mom’s.

Through the summer, we waited while doctors “kept an eye” on the tumors. It wasn’t until the fall that any action was taken,; and, by then, I was frantic.
The year before, I’d had to have a breast biopsy. The results, thankfully, were benign and my mother had gotten me a gold chain with a little charm shaped like a bingo card. On the back, she’d had inscribed, “B9.” My relief over my own results gave way to guilt. I felt like I shouldn’t wear it now that Dave was dealing with cancer.

Our kids struggled, too. There was so much worry, that we all started to chafe.

As the holidays approached, we learned that the procedure done in September had only partially worked. More tests revealed more tumors, and we were referred to a liver surgeon…a doctor who specializes in transplants and cutting things out.

The initial surgery was brutal. For a man who has never had surgery, never had stitches, who barely takes aspirin, it was rough. They essentially cut him in half. The worst part, though, was the relapse and the infection that sent him back to the hospital for ten days. There were moments where I really thought I could lose my husband.

During all of this, my mother had been…off. She was lethargic, didn’t feel right, and just not herself. As I was coming home from picking up prescriptions for Dave, she told me that her doctors discovered that her kidneys were failing. It took time; but, they figured out that she was experiencing drastic side effects from a change in medication. She’s almost back to normal; but, I was a basket case when she told me.

I will say that for every worry, there came a comfort. In the bleakest, darkest hours, someone or another would reach out a helping hand. Someone would text, or send a message over social media. Letters, cards, and the hands…the beautiful, beautiful hands…lifting us up, showering us with so much love. The hands traced and decorated with such care and sweetness. Dave was out of it a lot of the time during those months; but, the hands were with me all of the time. When Dave would sleep, I’d pull out the big envelope and look at each handprint in wonder, smiling and crying at the same time.

This year has seen a much larger portion of tears shed than I care to admit. Our daughter decided in April that she needs to sow some oats. She quit school, quit her job and moved out of our home. It was unexpected, and wrenching for all of us. I worry over her constantly, knowing that she has some hard lessons ahead of her. I realize that we all have to make our own way in the world; but, as a mother, it’s awful to watch a child take steps almost certainly guaranteed to be in a questionable direction.

Work changed very suddenly for me, as well. For several years now, I’ve essentially worked for two companies. The woman I consider as my boss had me housed in an office with a small, family owned business. My salary was split between the two, until very suddenly at the end of April, the family owned company couldn’t afford me anymore. I was unceremoniously let go.

My boss took over my full salary, and I moved to a new office with another brokerage. I have done the insurance for this company for many years, so it’s almost like working with family. It’s been almost a month, and some of the shock is starting to wear off. I am surrounded by good people, and it’s taking some getting used to, actually interacting with people under such pleasant circumstances. I’d spent much of my time at the other office closed up in my office. Many days, I could go all day without speaking to anyone except clients.

Today, some of the girls in the office bought lunch for me, and another who was out on appointments today has offered to take me to lunch on Friday.

This year, I made new friends, got to meet some online friends in person, and got to know so many people so much better.

Tonight, the boys made dinner, and we had a quiet evening at home. We’ll go to my mom’s for dinner on Saturday, after helping our cousins move into their new home…they’ve moved back from South Dakota, and we are thrilled. Izzy will spend time with us, and I’m looking forward to closing the chapter on Forty-Five. I seem to have crammed several years worth of drama into one. Go big or go home, right?

I am grateful to my family and my friends. I couldn’t have gotten through this year without them.

This year’s picture is hard to look at, but not as hard as last year’s. I see sadness and worry in my eyes; but, there is some sense of relief, too. I’m hoping for an easier year. Forty-Six has GOT to be better, right?