My alarm went off at 5:45 AM, and I was wide awake.
After crawling into bed under an unfamiliar roof at midnight, Sherlock puked up cat food he ate too fast around 1AM and was kneading my stomach with his small paws ten minutes before my alarm. I hopped out of bed, maneuvering between brown boxes we have yet to unpack from our new town home, and got ready for my first day back at work. Our husky Luna, who I rescued from the shelter two weeks ago, trotted with me around the neighborhood before I left, and I made sure to keep an eye on the street signs so I didn’t get lost. I scrambled to get my cup of coffee, since I set the brewer to PM instead of AM, and take my medicine – hoping it was where I thought I put it in the white cabinets.
Driving to work – I was shocked at how awake and peppy I felt to step into the musky classroom I had to abandon time and time again last year when I was sick. After PLC (profession learning community) meetings, I unlocked the bike lock to my cabinet. The shelves were piled high with Sharpies and pens – coffee cups and miniature stuffed animals – YA novels marked with a sloppy “ABALOS” scribbled in unforgivable black on the spines.
Emotionally, I felt – and still feel – I was standing in front of my bursting cabinet – anxious to take out all my things and put them where they belong.
After disease, we all look for the light at the end of the tunnel. For me, it’s my son’s 5th birthday – that will be exactly 5 years from diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer – and when – by the books – I enter remission. But I want to notice and appreciate the light as I travel through the tunnel. Right now, my brightness in the process is knowing the lesson plans I make for my students this year – I’ll be able to deliver them. I know I will pull my weight in my department and contribute instead of only receiving like I had to last year when I was sick. I hope this year I will be someone people can rely on in the work place.
This was me on the first day of the school year last year. I am not the same – not because my hair is short or I have surgery and cancer scars painted on my body – but because the spirit within me demands to be brighter now more than ever.
Everyday, I will strongly walk past the corner next to my door E-100 where I puked on myself with a colleague and the school nurse before I was admitted. Everyday, I will stand courageously in the same spot I pulled my gray hat off on my first day back and explained to my 12th graders how I fought cancer and won. Everyday, I will continue to walk towards the bigger light at the end of the tunnel without forgetting that within the tunnel there is still an ever increasing light that gets brighter as I take a step forward.