Just a year ago we were enjoying a family holiday in a cottage overlooking the Camel Valley vineyards. Wow! How the world changes.
Following Mags’ diagnosis in May we promised ourselves to be forward looking and try, as hard as it might be, to remain positive about the future. During post-op recovery life became a series of small steps, figuratively and literally. By August we were taking our usual two mile walk across country to the village shop and back. With the sun on our backs we promised ourselves that 2020 would be a year to make the most of. We’d get out and about more, take advantage of the long summer days and drink up the goodness those times would offer.
The chemo began a few days after Mags’ birthday. The ensuing three months passed in the form of a solemn synchronicity; the warmth of our days fading as the weight of treatment took its toll. By November, when the PICC line was removed and the chemo ended, we had the festive season to look forward to, although we were prevented from taking a daily stroll on cold days as exposure to a sudden drop in temperature could cause breathing difficulties. Even residual amounts of Oxaliplatin in the system might prompt a throat spasm, making it difficult to swallow and/or breathe. So we accepted the advice, and only ventured out on milder days. Which meant that we were, most of the time, cooped up in the flat.
Still, spring was around the corner. Soon the flowers would be blooming, the hedgerows turning green, the trees, fully dressed and ready to look summer in the eye with leafy confidence.
As per the promise we made ourselves, we started getting out and about more, increasing our walking distance daily, passing the time of day with familiar faces once again and taking the time to stand and stare, as we always used to.
Now, just as our own dose of uncertainty came out of the blue last year, the entire world finds itself in the realms of the unknown, hanging on the words of scientists and medics, hoping each day for an improved prognosis.
It’s going to be a long haul, and I fear that the promise of a summer that helped to get us this far will have to be appreciated from the wrong side of our windows. There are suggestions by people who know better than me that ‘shielding’ may be in place for many months. But we already miss the outdoors, and we’ve made an agreement that if this goes on for longer than we can bear, we’ll mask up and sneak in a walk before the sun or anyone else is up. We miss our family. It’s one thing seeing them and talking to them on FaceTime, but there’s no substitute for a hug.
Yet for all the unpleasant ramifications of the lockdown, Mags and I are, without a shadow of doubt, living a precious year together that we might once have written off as being a lost year.