Normal. For a lot of people, the word normal is not necessarily an exciting work. Synonymous with words like ordinary, standard, and routine, normal may as well be described as bland, monotonous, or boring.
The weekend after my first chemo was filled with ups and downs, quite literally. In one moment, I could go from feeling completely fine to feeling completely exhausted. I would be in the middle of a conversation, and then feel hit by a ton of bricks, and have to go and lie down. Immediately. The changes between feeling good and bad were so abrupt and instantaneous. I had never experienced anything like it. Friday, I was out of commission. It was the hardest day. I spent most of the day in bed. Saturday was a little better. By Sunday, I was feeling back to normal.
Sunday was the Fourth of July. A few weeks earlier, our friends had asked if we’d like to go to their house for the Fourth to barbecue. It would be low-key. Just a few friends. I told them I didn’t know how I was going to be feeling at that point. They gave me the open door/come-over-if-you-are-up-to-it invitation, for which I was very thankful. No pressure. Just open arms. Thank you.
By Sunday, I was feeling so much better. I was thinking getting out and seeing friends might be really nice. But, part of me was hesitant. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t be going to a barbecue. Maybe I should be sitting at home, resting. Would it be responsible to go out? Would it be a good choice? I went back and forth. Our friends lived close by, so I knew that if I started feeling bad at all, we could be home in just a few minutes. That was just the security blanket that I needed. Kevin and I decided just to go. We packed up Dylan and his stockpile of baby gear and headed up to their house. The evening was lovely. We sat around the table in their backyard. We talked. We laughed. It was very easy-going. And normal. So normal.
When I got home that night, I was tired, but happy. I was so thankful that we had ventured out of the house. I started thinking about the weekend. I thought of how completely miserable I had felt on Friday, and then how normal I felt by Sunday. The two extremes were so bizarre. I don’t know what I had expected to feel. I didn’t expect to feel any pieces of normalcy. I was pretty sure that the entire six months of treatment would be miserable. But, on Wednesday I had chemo, and by Sunday, I was at a Fourth of July barbecue. The whole thing was just so surreal. I still felt like me. For now, I still looked like me. I was back on two feet, and that was kind of positive. That weekend taught me that I should just expect not to know what to expect. It reminded me that I still really didn’t know anything just yet. But it also taught me that as abnormal this whole cancer experience was, that there would still be some normal in my life. I was a person who had cancer, but that wasn’t the only thing happening in my life. I was still me. I still went to barbeques. I still laughed with friends. I was still normal. I had never been so thankful for normal in my life. Normal was anything but bland or boring. Normal was exquisite.