3am. For whatever reason, that is my mind’s loudest hour. If there is anything wrong, or stressful, or even just the slightest bit unsettling going on in my life, it is bound to wake me up at 3am.
You know what I no longer let myself do at 3am- Google Ewing Sarcoma. Google any of my problems for that matter, because what good sense of peace ever came from Google? Whoever asked Google a question, particularly a medical one, and left the search feeling motivated about life?
You know what Google says about Ewing Sarcoma relapse at 3am- or at any time, I’m sure, I’ve just never Googled it any other time of the day.
Bad stuff. Google has some bad stuff to say at 3am about Ewing Sarcoma relapses. Things that will likely keep you awake, your mind screaming, until 3pm the next day.
These websites don’t even offer you an accurate chance at survival, they don’t even talk about it. Instead they give you these BS five-year rates. They tell you that people have a 30% five-year survival rate, which hey, maybe something positive does come from Google, because that’s about 23% better than the 7% we got from our doctor.
But in bed at 3am, I don’t appreciate the 23 extra percent points. Instead, I see the five years, the only statistic they’re willing to give, and I get pissed, and frustrated, and I think, “Is that all we are now? Is that the only way we get to live? In five-year increments?”
But now, it’s not 3am, and my mind isn’t quite so cloudy, and I’m on my second cup of coffee for the day, and I can’t help but think, maybe that isn’t so bad.
When I think about five years, not in the cancer sense, but in the idea of this chapter, this relationship with a man I adore, I am already through one set, and nearly to the second year of set two. Five years was both breath-takingly fast and suffocatingly slow. It was messy and beautiful, and hard, but celebratory, and I’m astonished by how much fit into it.
College, cancer, chemo., surgery, graduation, proposal, more cancer, marriage, honeymoon, careers, career changes, dogs, home ownership, the list goes on.
I am astonished by the amount of life that fits into five-years, by the different people you get to be in this span. I’m so astonished, in fact, that when I consider a ten-year span, a decade’s worth of life, I’m overwhelmed at the thought of it.
I’ve always been a fan of the ten-year plan, but let me tell you, nothing in my last ten-year span has come close to expected. That has been both the best and hardest fact to swallow, that 25-year-old Alycia looks nothing like the woman 15-year-old Alycia dreamed of being.
25-year-old Alycia is tired, and all I can think is, “Who has the energy to plan for ten years into the future, and who has the stamina to stay strong when every single plan is shifted or shattered in some way or another?”
Five years is a substantial amount of time, and if that’s what I’m being offered, then I’ll take it and I’ll play it, and I’ll raise you another five once we get to the end of this one. And in that five, we’ll take everything we experienced in this five and we’ll live just as much, love just as much, and learn just as much because five years is quite the load to hold at one time.
And when I think about this life that takes so much from so many, I am honored to be well into my second set of five, with my husband, my sixth set of five with myself, and I am thrilled to see what is right here, right in the moments ahead of me.
My husband is not guaranteed tomorrow, and he’s really not guaranteed four years from now, but neither am I, if we’re being honest, and how self-indulgent was I to plan ten years in advance as though every breath is promised to me. How naïve am I to think I have any say in what the next ten years can bring. I don’t even have control of these five, and that’s okay, beautiful even.
I’ll take five-year increments. I’ll take hour to hour if that’s what I’m granted because these hours are priceless.
I don’t need a ten-year plan. I don’t need a five-year plan. I just need all the most beautiful and painful increments that this life will grant me. I need to recognize that I have survived hard hours and happy hours (sometimes hard hours with happy hours). I need to recognize that I am pushing through a freaken pandemic as we speak, and I’m okay.
Give me today- give me this moment, give me my five-year increments- just keep me off of Google at 3am.