The second cancerversary

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day and the second anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. I think it will always make me reflective, this date. I think that every year, when I reach it, I’ll do a quiet ‘yes, I made it’, just as I whisper ‘white rabbits’ to myself on the first of every month, if I remember to. If I’m lucky enough to reach it thirty or forty times, I might get to the stage where it passes by unnoticed. But for now, it’s still a day of note. Not particularly happy, not particularly sad.

I spent Good Friday out walking at Beacon Hill with Paul and the children. We sat on a bench and shared a Smarties Easter egg and lifted Joseph and Elodie onto logs they wanted to walk along and I had a hazy idea for another novel. On Easter Saturday, we had the family over for lunch. My parents arrived, then my brother-in-law Scott with my nephews, then Rachel. I’d bought yellow felt baskets for the four kids and we hid eggs and they squealed and ran around looking for them. Joseph and Louie were competitive, while Elodie and Jay sat on the floor and passed their treasure back and forth between them.

Paul and I took it in turns to have lie-ins until 9am this weekend. Sunday was my turn. We’d had Elodie in our bed all night, and we’d all had a restless night as a result, so I was glad of the extra sleep. Once I was up, Joseph and I went to Twinlakes so that he could run around and go on some rides while Paul looked after Elodie and painted a wall (at naptime). We went to see the Easter Bunny and Joseph got a golden ticket which he later exchanged for a hideous rainbow-coloured dog in the gift shop.

Later, back at home, we took Joseph out on his new two-wheeled scooter and Elodie had a go on the scooter she’s inherited from her brother, and later still, I lay next to Joseph in his bed, reading him stories. In between it all, I thought about two-years-ago me, pregnant and newly diagnosed and unable to stop crying, so terrified about what was going to happen. And I wished I could tell her that things were going to be ok. That things were going to get worse, with Rachel’s stroke and Elodie’s troublesome start to life, but that they’d get better again.

I wished I could tell her that in two years, she’d still be here. That she’d have fallen hard in love with her daughter, who would be learning to speak and very keen on taking her clothes off at every opportunity. That her son would be starting on the long path to learning to read, that he would be getting to know Roald Dahl’s cast of characters and showing the same love of books that she developed at around that age.

But all I can do is remember her, and measure the distance I’ve come since that dark day. It’s further than I would have imagined, I think. It’s pretty far.

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