It’s three in the morning and I am wide awake. I had a short snooze while attempting to read my book earlier and now I am wide awake. I did not even get a nap today. For some reason it is days like these when I am busy and do not get a chance to take a nap that I have trouble falling asleep at night. Maybe I am over tired. It could also be that my mind is going a thousand miles a minute. I am feeling anxious, but not exactly sure what about. I have been having more anxiety lately. I can usually ignore it during the day, but it is hard to ignore in the middle of the night, when the house is quiet with nothing to distract you from your thoughts.
Today I decorated a Christmas tree. My parents have this small tree that usually put in the kitchen with cookie cutter ornaments and gingerbread men. This year they allowed me to decorate that tree with my ornaments. I have had a tree in my condo since Christmas of 1999.
I stated collecting ornaments even before that and now have quite a selection. I have ornaments generations old, handed down by my mother’s great grandmother. Unwrapping my ornaments and placing them on the tree is like a walk down memory lane. I have a memory or story for each of the ornaments and they all have different meanings. As a chef in early adulthood a former life, I have several related to cooking (a pig dressed in a chef jacket and hat, reindeer made of cooking utensils, and a Santa on a rope of garlic). I have a whole collection dedicated to my love of nature, hiking and camping (hiking boot, back pack, tent, and hiking Santa). I also have ornaments that I picked up during many of my trips to Aruba, Disney and other places. I can’t talk about my ornament collection without mentioning the dog ornaments. As many of you know I am a golden retriever lover. I have at least ten ornaments depicting golden retrievers frolicking. And I have a couple very special ornaments for my dog Oscar. My friend Sara helped me decorate the tree and with every ornament we picked up I would tell her who gave it to me and what it meant something to me.
This was just another wonderful reminder that I have had a rich life and am very blessed. I am not one that is defined by my possesses, but it is nice to have something that when you look at it takes you back to the moment you received it, purchased it, or however to came to have it and you remember what you felt when you first saw it and what reminds you off.
I honestly did not think I would see Christmas this year. In a way I made my goodbyes to the holidays last year. Christmas and New Year’s was very tough for me last year. I had decided to stop treatment and was processing the prognosis the doctors were giving me. Advent is one of my favorite church seasons and last year I did my best to enjoy it, but in the back of my mind was voice that kept saying this is the last time you will have Christmas with your family, the last time you decorate your tree, the last time you get to share your nephew’s excitement about Santa on Christmas eve and then watching them enjoy their presents on Christmas. It was hard to celebrate New Year’s because I had no idea how long I would be alive. I went to Christmas Eve service at my church last year and I cried all the way through it. It was not dainty tears running down my cheeks, it was body wrenching sobs.
I am amazed (and so are my docs) that I am seeing another Christmas and I do see this as the blessing it is. But it is a mixed blessing. I have the joy of sharing this time with my family and friends, but I also have the voice back in my head reminding me this is most likely some of my last experiences. I know that anything is possible, especially when you take in account that I am doing fairly good I was not expected to live this long, but I know that I am dying and I know with every cold, breathing attack, and increased tiredness that each day is just one day closer to the end.
The last year has been about quality of life and make sure that I do only what is really valuable to me and to do as many things that make me happy as possible. I am living life for each day and all that it brings. Some days are bad, but many wonderful things happen too. I just need to remember these next couple of weeks to live in the moments. To not think about whether is the last time I will see someone or do something, but to just cherish the moment and live in the present.
On a somewhat unrelated comment, I have been getting a lot of feedback from people about the blog and have been amazed how many people are reading it. I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know what you like about the blog or if a posting spoke to you in any way. This blog may be about me, but it is also about all of you who are a part of my journey and if there a topic you would like me to talk about or questions you have, please feel free to ask. Thank you for your support.