Today is Ian’s and my tenth anniversary. We have been in the habit, over the last decade, of buying a joint gift together, following (loosely, based on mutually agreed upon interpretation) the “traditional” anniversary gifts, as set out in my Graphic Image paper calendar. We derailed a bit at the fifth (Wood or Clocks), because we decided we wanted a handmade wood music stand, made by this man, who is only in Coeur d’Alene, so you’d think we could’ve found our way up there to see his work (which we’d like to do, because Ian is a novice woodworker himself), but we haven’t. And it’s been five years, or HALF of our marriage. Three (Leather) was the biggest stretch . . . we were in Greece, and saw a glass and bronze fish in an art gallery . . . a gallery and fish that I’d seen twice before on other visits . . . and we decided that fish had skin, and skin sometimes became leather, and this was a fish (and we wanted it), so, why not? For the oh-so-traditional Electrical Appliances (eighth—the stretch here being the reach of tradition, not how we interpreted it), we upgraded our stick blender from a corded to a cordless, and in the winter, I do enjoy crafting the occasional pureed soup.
This year’s Tin or Aluminum was actually pretty easy for us to justify—we gave airline miles to our dear friends in Austin since who would want to visit there in August—and they’re arriving this evening (winter clothes in their checked luggage), on an AIRPLANE, which is mostly ALUMINUM. I think pretty much everyone can get on board with that.
This morning, however, I did get, as a non-traditional celebratory toast, my second new dose of Navelbine, which meant I was in the clinic from 10:15 to 1:15 (it’s still not clear that my insurance company is going to pay for these doses, let alone future ones, but there’s now an almost-two-week window to work that out before I’m next due in). I also received my latest tumor marker score . . . 81.
The volatile cancers are supposed to be volatile both directions (up they race, and SMASH!!! they’re brought down), and I know I can feel the drug pumping through my body, into and out of my affected bones. Also, that score was from BEFORE I began the Navelbine last week, so it’s probably already lower. And even if the insurance company doesn’t pay for these last two weeks (+/- $1000, I’m guessing), it seems to be worth it for us to carry the cost. Still, this is turning out to be a day pretty representational of my life—and Ian’s life—throughout our marriage. Deep and soaring joys, intertwined with gnawing fear and keening heartache.
This last weekend on Orcas Island (we managed to get the siding boards up, but not the battens, and certainly no paint, but we worked virtually NON-STOP), Sunday afternoon came around and I had to lie down. I went into the dacha and lay on our sleeping mats (stacked together for extra cushiness), gazed out at the brilliant sun and cotton-ball clouds, and felt sorry for myself, for needing a rest, for having to take these drugs, for inflicting this on my husband. He did not sign up for this, I thought to myself, winking aside tears. And then my practical self broke in and stopped the melodramatic reverie.
He DID sign up for this. He knew about my cancer past before he asked me to marry him. The summer of our wedding, I had a recurrence and was undergoing chemotherapy treatments EVERY WEEK. Ian would come to the clinic with me, and lie on my bed next to me, and nap while I planned our wedding. Ian is DEEPLY involved in this, and has been from the start. My mom is right; he IS an angel.
In the car on the way home from Orcas, I told Ian about my musings while I was lying flat, and he said “Yes, that IS what I signed up for—you taking a break occasionally so that we can relax!”
He’s a good man. Happy Anniversary to me.