In fact, December has been an odd month. I remember riding out at the very beginning of the month in a park still full of trees with autumn leaves and feeling distinctly un-Decemberish and un-Christmassy. It wasn’t until the Friday of that week, after a late lunch with friends, that I thought that December had really arrived. When I stepped out into the car park at the end of the meal, it was cold and miserable – a typically dismal winter’s day. I know that should depress me, but I like seasons to be seasonal, and I’m probably not alone in that. I once read that we Brits are actually quite particular about this sort of thing.
But the one factor which has dominated December has been my husband’s operation and subsequent diagnosis of lymphoma. In many ways, the whole business has borne an uncanny resemblance to my own diagnosis of cancer and operation three years ago, but I was spared the chemo. In my husband’s case, however, the cancer was unexpected, but the timing has been pretty much identical.
Not the way to start Christmas, you might say. Yet there’s a sense of relief when the chemo actually starts: something is happening, and, while, it might be a long haul, it is hopefully the beginning of the road to recovery. I was overjoyed on Monday when said husband bounded into the house rather earlier than expected after his first cycle of chemo, even if he was brandishing a large carrier bag full of medication. Things had gone well and he wasn’t feeling any side effects. He was almost euphoric and chatted happily to friends who had come to dinner, and he was glad to be able to discuss chemo with one close friend who had also undergone treatment.
So what about Christmas itself? Well, there was still no sign of any nasty reaction, and we had a normal Christmas day, although, of course, the husband had to pass on his usual glass of champagne/claret. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was better than normal. Sometimes, perhaps, it is useful to have a sharp reminder of our own mortality for us to appreciate what we have and the time we spend together as a family.