I never finished my degree. I don’t have a career. I am proud of what I have achieved in a work environment, however I am currently not working. One day… I’ll finish my degree and have a job where I can make a difference.
I never went on an OE. I’ve been to Aussie a handful of times, and Fiji once. One day… it’ll be my turn to explore the world.
I had kids younger than others around me, and only a year or two of double income no kids. One day… I’ll have a bit more money to do things.
One day… I’ll get a car less than 10 years old. Maybe even with a clock that can be set to the right time. Possibly even electric!
One day… we might upgrade to a larger house.
The shock of the cancer diagnosis has worn off a little and reality has started to sink in. A lot of my ‘one day’s’ will never be. Some of them aren’t really a big issue in the grand scheme of things – like a flash car or a bigger house. They may have never happened anyway. It’s more the sudden re-prioritisation that has been happening in my head. Trying to prioritise a bucket list (with some expensive things on it!) but also not missing out on too much time with family by working full time to earn money to save for the bucket list… I think it’s going to be a balance!
I’ve found there are so many different aspects to grieve with a diagnosis like this. You grieve the person you were before you were an Oncology patient. You grieve the stolen time, the loss of the ‘One Days’. You grieve the loss of feeling comfortable and at home in your own body. You grieve the loss of hair, organs and bodily functions. You grieve the loss of energy.
Chemo has officially finished as of last Thursday. My hair is already growing back, and my energy is returning. I’m now onto Letrozole – an estrogen blocker which will significantly slow down the growth of the cancer and extend the time before it comes back – hopefully by years. The side effects sound pretty similar to the menopause symptoms I’ve already got so I’m optimistic that I’ll feel like myself mostly for the next wee while. It will be nice to have a wee reprieve after a tough 6 months.
Who am I? Who am I, other than a cancer patient? Other than a bereaved mother? Other than a mother. I’ve been struggling with this question a lot recently. I don’t actually think it’s unique to a bereaved mother, or a cancer patient. I think everyone has this thought from time to time.
Cancer has an insidious way of creeping into every part of your day. Walk past a mirror – get reminded of your mortality. Your child asks you whether they’d be a good mother – get reminded you probably won’t be there to see that. Try to have some 1:1 time with your husband, get constant thoughts about all the ways your appearance has changed in the last 5 months. Turn around in the car to check on the kids and can’t breathe temporarily due to sudden abdominal pain.
It’s the everyday things it steals. The reminders. They cannot be escaped.
There’s a well known link between chemo and depression. For some reason, I’m far more comfortable talking about my anxiety issues than I am talking about my depression. Perhaps anxiety is a more acceptable mental illness. It certainly seems to be more talked about on social media platforms.
However – in my last psyc appointment it was pointed out that I was checking all the boxes for depression. I didn’t want to hear that. I’ve been there before and I don’t want to be there again.
Depression feels like you’re a passenger in a car, with no say on where you’re going, and no energy to argue with the driver. It’s helplessness and exhaustion. It’s overwhelming. It’s consuming. It feels like the less acceptable cousin of anxiety.
Depression for me is different as an adult. It’s higher functioning. Harder to spot. Like I didn’t even know I was a passenger in a car until I was told. But now I know, I’m mustering up the energy to stop the car.
See, somewhere along the way, chemo, surgery, social anxiety and covid have all combined to cause the current situation. I was self conscious of my changing body and avoided leaving the house. I was scared of catching covid and avoided leaving the house. I have low energy and fitness after surgery and chemo, so didn’t have the energy to leave the house. I didn’t leave the house, which feeds into the depressive self talk. Which increased the depression, leaving me with no motivation to leave the house.
Today, I challenged my anxiety and left the house. I find myself back at home, after having my anxiety reinforced. I feel like challenging the depressive and anxious self talk is an uphill battle. While out on an extremely short trip (not far from a long drop) I STILL managed to have urgency issues and need to come back home. I missed the morning quality time with the girls, throwing rocks into the river, because my bowel doesn’t like me at the moment. I’m trying to do positive things for my mental health while my physical health stops it from happening. Or I’m trying to do good things for my physical health but my mental health gets in the way.
Today, for the first time, I acknowledged out loud that it feels like cancer is stealing my life.
And it just feels a bit shit.
My very last chemo is scheduled for Thursday 21st April, and then is ‘finished’ three weeks later. After that, I’ll go on to Letrozole, which will be for life. It will stop any remaining estrogen production as estrogen makes my cancer grow.
I hoping that once chemo is finished, I’ll be past the bowel issues, and depression 🤞
You can love being a stay at home mum, and desperately need a break. You can be intensely grateful to be a mother, and miss who you were before your child entered the world. You can be grateful for what you have, and have goals for the future.
Recently, I was asked by my psychologist why we tried for another baby after Mackenzie died. The decision making was complicated. I knew it was going to be the most terrifying thing I’d ever chosen to do. Anything good coming out of Mackenzie’s death felt repulsive to me. How could we have another child if the only reason they would be there was because Mackenzie wasn’t. We could never replace Mackenzie and certainly wouldn’t want to. I was terrified I wouldn’t love them enough – or worse, that I would love them more. What if I had a boy? What if I had a girl? What if the same thing happened to this baby, or something else terrible. It boiled down to the fact that I would regret not doing it. I would regret my fears stopping me from future joy.
You can miss the child in your heart like a chasm has been permanently carved in your chest; and not be able to imagine life without the child in your arms.
The night Mackenzie died, and every day since, I felt my life split in two. Before and After. Often, I tried to imagine what my life would be like if she hadn’t died. Instead of walking into the hospital morgue with a dead newborn and leaving with empty arms, I would be walking into the NICU. Instead of waking in the morning and realising it wasn’t the most horrific nightmare, I would still be waking to a nightmare but she would be alive. Instead of attending my baby’s funeral, I’d be attending appointments to learn about what was wrong with her and the treatment pathways. As time went on, the ‘what ifs’ became murkier.
You can miss the life that could have been, and be grateful for the life you have.
My expected lifespan is still very much a rough estimation. My understanding of what my Oncologist told me was 5-15 years. That is a huge difference in the life of a young child especially. That’s the difference between Willa barely remembering me, or having me around through most of her high school years. That’s the difference between Hazel starting Intermediate school, or celebrating her 21st. It’s the difference between possibly being around for Tayla’s wedding and her becoming a mother (if she chooses those things) or not. It’s the difference between making Greg a widow in his late 40s and his early 60s. I could also live to old age.
I can be grateful to have a slow growing cancer and that life is measured in years rather than months, and pissed off it’s rare and hard to treat with a vague prognosis.
Most of all, I can hate that I’ve needed to be strong, and love that I’ve been strong enough.
I swing pretty badly between not wanting to be that person walking around with no eyebrows, no hair and wearing a headscarf – and wanting to own it, share my story and hopefully raise awareness for ovarian cancer.
I’ve lost sight of me. I’ve had two times in life now where I’ve had things happen that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Things out of my control. Each time I’ve struggled to maintain ME.
Maintaining a sense of self outside of being a bereaved mother, or a cancer patient is hard. The resources that go into everyday life take all that you have. When you add on intense grief, or a life limiting cancer diagnosis, survival mode kicks in. Each came with fatigue. Intense fatigue. A loss in mental resources.
I think the best way I can describe it is starting the day with my cup half full. Ideally, we would all start the day with an empty cup. As hard things happen (like dealing with the reaction from giving your child the wrong coloured cup with milk at breakfast, or choosing the wrong clothes to wear for the day), forgetting something important like sports uniform for school drop off, explaining to your children how important it is to brush their teeth for the 5th time that week (and it’s Wednesday morning) – your cup fills up bit by bit. Maybe it’s a big meeting at work, or a discussion with a staff member you’ve been dreading. Less life stress gives you a lower starting point – your cup is emptier at the beginning of the day. Maybe you start the day with your cup almost empty. So it takes more stressors throughout the day to make you lose it/flip your lid.
I start the day half full, and it fills up pretty fast. The extra stressors feel harder at the moment. The fatigue is overwhelming. The brain fog is intense. And I won’t share with you all the bodily challenges I’ve got (mentally and physically). So there’s no capacity left to just be me. The closest I get is visiting my cancer psychologist – which has been amazing.
I think the reason I’m so keen for chemo to just be done with is so that hopefully the fatigue subsides and I can be ME again. Have more energy and mental capacity to work on me, and what is important to me.
There’s so many things I want to work towards, but the lack of energy to do anything more than survive is a really big challenge at the moment.
Bring on the end of April! Hopefully I’ll be skiing and tramping and learning to knit and play the uke before you know it 👊🏼
I’m not used to feeling vulnerable. It’s not a comfortable feeling. I’ve watched Brené Brown’s talks on the power of vulnerability, and loved the idea of welcoming that feeling in at times. But I never anticipated it becoming a real part of my everyday life completely separate from any sense of choice.
The pandemic is different for us all. I started it as ‘vulnerable’ according to the Ministry of Health due to being pregnant with Willa at the time. Giving birth during level 4 lockdown was interesting – but as Willa wasn’t my first I didn’t actually mind the seclusion. I felt safe in my bubble in hospital, and reassured that I had experts around 24/7 looking after Willa’s health. Once she had her scan of her heart and lungs and was given the all clear, I was happy to go home. Happy to stay isolated, happy to keep as safe as possible. Through that, I never actually felt personally vulnerable. I never felt that catching Covid was a real possibility, for me or my family.
I’m introverted. I like to be at home. Overall, I’d say I’ve been pretty personally untouched by the pandemic. Living in New Zealand, not working, and with a husband in a job that is secure through the whole thing. We didn’t really travel before, so no changes there.
But. There are things I’ve found strange, different – hard. One of the most bizarre, was being told I had cancer, through a mask. I turned up to my appointment that I thought would only be removing my catheter post op, and it turned out my pathology results were back as well. I wanted to hear, even though I’d come to this appointment alone. So we called Greg and put him on speaker. I had cancer. I was being told I had cancer. I could see the discussion was hard for her. She had to convey her empathy through her eyes alone. Her mask covered the rest of her face. I often wonder if the mask makes delivering that news harder or easier. It’s such a life changing sentence to give someone. I only remembered to ask what stage the cancer was after we’d hung up from Greg. Stage 4. F#@k.
Despite a cancer diagnosis mid pandemic, it took until last weekend to feel truely vulnerable and scared.
I caught a cold and got a covid test on the Friday, but by Friday afternoon I was miserable, by Saturday morning I was feeling downright rubbish. We called the oncology team and they told me to go in to the emergency department. I’m aware chemo is causing me to be immunosuppressed. I have a special card in my wallet called a green card. Basically, if I get a slight temperature, vomiting, feel hot and cold – it needs to be taken seriously. I just didn’t really appreciate how seriously. I ended up being admitted to hospital with a slight temperature. Just over 38 degrees from memory. Luckily the oncology team could look up my covid result (negative) so I didn’t have to be isolated. However I was given 3 bags of fluid, and IV antibiotics. The next day I was given two bags of blood. I’ve never needed blood before. Even after some pretty major surgery, I still didn’t need blood. Yet here I was. For some reason, being ‘bad’ enough to be given this precious donated blood scared me. A side note – a huge thank you to everyone who donates blood! I had febrile neutropenia – essentially, an infection and no immune response.
All this from what I believe was just a cold. 2 nights in hospital, 2 bags of blood, 3 bags of fluid and 5 bags of IV antibiotics.
Coming out of hospital to an Omicron outbreak is a new feeling of vulnerability for me. I know that Omicron tends to be a milder infection. I’ve had 3 vaccinations. I know, statistically, I am actually only at a slightly increased chance of being hospitalised or dying from Covid while undergoing chemotherapy. My anxiety isn’t actually around that. My anxiety is about the effectiveness of the cancer treatment if I were to get covid now.
My cancer is slow growing (good) but hard to treat (shit). The chemo I am on only has about 20-25% chance of actually doing anything to my cancer. Chemo was recommended due to the chance it could work, my (young) age, and advanced stage. Basically, throwing everything possible at it.
If I catch covid, I won’t be able to get my chemo on time. Which would reduce the cumulative effect of the treatment. Which reduces the overall effectiveness. I really really don’t want all this to be for nothing. I know I’ll never know for sure if it helped or not. But I see this time undergoing chemotherapy as mostly ‘lost time’. I am tired and sick. Stressed, anxious, down. I’m trying my best to make the most of time with the kids, but that is so damn hard with this the side effects of chemo and surgery hanging over me.
I need to look back and be able to say ‘Oh well, we tried our absolute best. We couldn’t have done anything more to try and beat this.’.
Which leaves me with the intense feeling of vulnerability. I feel like a cancer patient, despite the smiles and bravado.
EDIT TO ADD: I originally wrote this on February 27th, and today (15th March) I’ve learnt from my oncologist that Covid negatively impacting the cumulative affect of chemo isn’t actually correct. If I were to catch Covid, it would be the same as if I caught the flu. Standard protocol is to delay by a week, and it doesn’t influence how well the chemo will work. Great news!
I feel like chunks of time are being stolen from me.
The days in hospital after surgery unable to see my girls. The time in recovery unable to play as much as I want with them. The fatigue and physical limitation after surgery are frustrating. Even when I was at home, I couldn’t be the mum or wife I wanted to be. Sometimes I wonder how long I’ve been more tired or physically limited before realising it. How long this has been sneaking up on me for.
I’ve experienced stolen time before. An entire lifetime of time with Mackenzie was stolen from me. But I also feel like I was absent for years for Tayla and Hazel after Mackenzie died. I know I tried my best each and every day, but I still wonder how much my grief affected Hazel in her early years. How much my mental state impacted Tayla’s mid teen years. Throwing myself into work as a coping mechanism meant that the absence continued (just in a different way) until April 2020 when lockdown hit and Willa was born and I was suddenly home and present fully.
Christmas Eve chemo meant a different Christmas time to normal. The fatigue hit hard. I managed to get up for Santa presents, family presents and cooked pancakes. Then I crawled into bed for a ‘quick rest’. I fell asleep and woke up hours later. I’d slept through the time we were supposed to go out to family Christmas. Tayla and Hazel were picked up (so they wouldn’t miss out on the extended family time), and Greg took Willa and I when we were both up. But I felt disappointed in myself. Why couldn’t I just make it through one day – an important day – without ruining the plans.
I get frustrated at what I can’t do. I couldn’t walk around Willowbank with my brother, sister, nieces and nephew. I missed out on the time with them. I missed out on time with friends, when I haven’t been up to catch ups after surgery. I haven’t been as fun as I want to be with the girls.
But what terrifies me late at night or the early hours of the morning, is how much stolen time is to come. How much of the girls lives I won’t be around to see. What if I’m not around for Willa’s first day of school, the day Hazel is old enough to bike to intermediate herself, or the day Tayla buys her first car. What about my own 40th birthday. Seeing the girls grow up, move out of home and -if they want- become mothers themselves. Nothing in life is certain. I know that. But coming to terms with mortality is damn hard. Not to say I’m resigned to dying or even convinced I will soon. But the odds are not in my favour of dying of old age.
So far, it looks like the first week after chemo isn’t so great, but the next two weeks might just be ok. Which is better than I expected. Chemo is cumulative, so each of the 6 courses will be harder than the last. But hopefully only one week out of every three weeks will be rough. Only one week of stolen time.
My oncology appointment in public was on Thursday and was booked into chemo then. It turns out my first dose is 8am Friday December 24th. I feel like the timing could be better…
I’ve got an hour appointment on the Wednesday to learn about chemo. To learn about how to take the drugs before and after the chemo dose to mitigate side effects. The prescription came on a piece of A4 paper.
The chemo I will be on is Carboplatin and Paclitaxel. I will lose my hair. I will most likely experience nausea and possibly vomiting. Fatigue. Lowered immune system. Muscle and joint aches and pains, pins and needles in fingers and toes…there’s a very long list of side effects. I will be getting a dose every 21 days, and 6 doses in total. I’m fairly sure that means my last dose will be April 8th. There will be good days and bad days – and I’ll get a handle of the pattern after the first dose.
To regain some control of the situation I got pixie cut last Saturday. Its a very low risk time to try crazy things with my hair as its going to fall out anyway. I might even dye it pink. I’ve found some gorgeous headscarves and an amazing ‘fuck cancer’ cap. I’m in the market for some dangly earrings now, and any cancer paraphernalia. I saw a T-shirt that said ‘My oncologist does my hair’. I think I’ll need to get that one too.
I often get moments where I’ve been feeling pretty normal, then suddenly remember I have cancer.
It’s going to be so great to see family over Christmas and I’m just going to hope that I’ve got some good days straight after chemo, with the bad days to follow AFTER Christmas. Chemo feels like a pretty shitty Christmas present to be fair.
When shitty things happen you have no choice but be brave, or strong. You have no choice but to pick yourself up and find your way forward – although life can at times feel impossible. Most of the time I find it really nice to have the fact that I have chosen to live my life as fully as possible, even after Mackenzie died, acknowledged. Because the truth is that that is one of the strongest and bravest things I’ve ever done. It didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel brave most of the time. But when I look back, I remember the terror I felt in mundane and every day situations. I never said a word to anyone – I don’t think I would have been able to articulate it at the time.
Walking into my place of work after 6 months of maternity leave, without dropping my baby at daycare – because we held her funeral months earlier. The terror of being asked about how she was doing battled with the terror of not being asked. The thing is, no-one ever knows the right thing to say. But being on the other side of the equation – I don’t even know what I wanted to hear. I needed her life acknowledged and talked about as deeply as I needed to not talk, and keep everything in the tightly wrapped boxes in my mind. One day, a while after I returned to work and walked through the staff cafe as I did every morning to drop my lunch in the fridge, I saw a donation box for Huggable Hearts, a charity we had used after Mackenzie died. A really beautiful charity that aims to fill the ’empty arms’ feeling of losing a child. They fill a material heart with rice – to the weight of the baby you have lost. Mackenzie’s was rather large – she weighed over 4kgs when she passed away. The moment I saw the donation box, my carefully constructed ‘work Sarah’ crumbled and threatened to overlap with ‘bereaved mother Sarah’. Was this about me? Did every one know? It wasn’t about me. I’m certainly not the only one to go through baby or child loss. There are so many more of us than we all like to think. But that day made me realise how carefully I kept work and home separated, and the boxes I maintain in my head.
I developed some healthy and some not so healthy coping mechanisms. I know now that I’m really really good at putting things in boxes, but not so good at bringing them out again. Which in some instances are fine – somethings don’t need to be intruding into every day thoughts constantly. However its a relatively tricky balance to find when it happens to be your baby in one of those boxes. To honour her, I can’t leave her in a box. The only place she can live now is in my mind and the minds of others who know/love her. It took Mackenzie dying to understand that I am an anxious person, and have been my whole life. It took her dying to be able to acknowledge that the ‘episode’ I had in 2012 in which I underwent cardiac investigation after was actually a panic attack.
I know I tidy/organise/minimise when I can’t deal or am avoiding things . It’s a running joke that I took all the doors off in our house in the midst of a minimising rampage that lasted days. I thought if I got rid of excess stuff, I could be calmer. It didn’t really work, but the doors are still gone, and I still find myself doing it fairly frequently. My house is never tidy because I’m ‘good’. The tidier it is, the more avoiding/ignoring I’m doing.
I’ve found myself obsessively tidying and organising since I’ve been home from hospital. I knew what I was doing and I couldn’t stop myself from doing it. There was a driving need for things to be in their homes, the places where they lived. I always feel that satisfaction of tidying the house and then feeling like I’ve controlled something. Unfortunately my time tidying and sorting meant that I caused my wound to weep again post surgery. I’ve had times where I’m completely incapable of making an incredibly simple decision. I’ve gone to bed the second Greg gets home from work as I can’t do one second more of parenting. Most recently I’ve had a huge run of being incredibly scatterbrained. What can only be referred to as ‘The Shower Saga’, where I’ve been so preoccupied it took me 3 showers (one after the other) to manage to shave my armpits and legs. The next day I refolded and rearranged all our towels and bathmat on the heated towel rail to dry my towel (after drying myself 3 times in quick succession after failing to complete the basic task of shaving myself 3 times) then didn’t switch it on. My towel was still soaking wet the following night. Today, I boiled the jug and put the water in my plunger, left it for 5 minutes, poured the water into my cup and then realised I never added the coffee.
I’ve cried 3 times since I found my lump. When I coughed and vomited post surgery, when my pain meds weren’t controlling the pain a few days after surgery, and once, in the early days after I got home. I hadn’t had the results back yet to say it was cancer, but I was feeling vulnerable and scared. I think I needed a cry next to Greg instead of alone in a hospital bed. I didn’t cry when I found out I would need major surgery, or would be going through surgical menopause. I didn’t cry when I found out how widespread the disease was, or how much bigger the surgery was than I expected. I didn’t cry when the recovery from surgery was so much harder than I anticipated. I didn’t cry when I found out it was cancer, or that it was stage 4. I didn’t cry when I found out that I was being recommended to have chemo.
But I’ve got to the point where I want that dam to break.
I’m now at the stage where I need to ask myself – is this helping or harming me? My boxes and my tidying, my avoidance and optimistic nature definitely have a place in my life and can be incredibly useful at times. However as I get older/ gone through tougher shit in life I have learned to realise not only what my coping mechanisms are, but when they aren’t helping anymore. When they are starting to harm. I think it’s time to unpack the boxes, and sit with the thoughts and emotions, despite how uncomfortable they are.
I have my oncology appointment on the 16th December, and have been told I will ‘get going’ with chemo prior to Christmas. Which by my calculations mean I should lose my hair very early into the new year. I’m hoping that I can have a good cry before then as I think the longer I leave it the messier it will be when it happens.
I have so much to live for. SO much. I have 3 wonderful girls and I can’t imagine dying while they’re still young. I can’t imagine not being at Tayla’s wedding if she chooses to get married. I can’t imagine not meeting Hazel’s first boyfriend. I can’t imagine not seeing Willa finish high school. Really, Willa is my biggest fear – what if I have way less time than I think and she doesn’t even remember me?
Low grade serous ovarian cancer is so unpredictable. When you google stage 4 low grade serous carcinoma, I’ve got a 5 year survival rate of 17%. I guess I see myself as a ‘good’ stage 4 though. I was ‘optimally debulked’ which is a really positive prognostic factor. That means they got all the visible cancer in surgery on the 8th November. Which is extremely positive. I’ve also got some worries – for starters it got to stage 4 without any particularly obvious symptoms. The symptoms for ovarian cancer are incredibly vague. I feel most women I know will have at least a couple of the symptoms. I had painful bloating, weight loss, and fatigue. I don’t feel like I’m a super sensitive person, but I’d been to the doctor about all three this year, then had an appointment about my lump. I wrote off the weight loss due to still breastfeeding Willa. I wrote off the fatigue due to having a young family, plus a teenager who gets home late. I wrote off the bloating due to dietary issues – I even saw a dietician and went on a low FODMAP diet to try and narrow down the cause of the painful bloating. My CT scan and MRI also really didn’t show the extent of the disease. Neither did my blood test of my CA125 level. My fear about it growing back, while all the screening tests come back clear aren’t exactly unfounded.
I also realise that no matter how positive I think, sometimes cancer is just too much to beat. I told Greg I’m too stubborn to die and let anyone else raise the kids – but what I left unsaid was that I may not have a choice. Because the reality is that no matter how strong you are, sometimes cancer just beats you anyway. But I’ll give it as much of a fight as I can. Plus, I still may be one of the lucky ones where I can go years without any further intervention needed. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re strong or not. Its a f**king tough road to travel for anyone going through it, but sometimes, its just too much no matter how much the person wants/needs to live through it.
Low grade serous carcinoma is rare (of course it is!) and there is still a lot of research to be done. It’s a really controversial question as to whether chemo is beneficial or not. The upside of low grade serous is that it is slow growing. The downside is that it doesn’t appear to be particularly responsive to chemo. Chemo works on rapidly dividing cells/cells that are significantly different to body cells. Low grade serous cells fly under the radar and are similar enough to body cells to not cause too much attention to the chemo. Which turns it into a hard-to-treat cancer.
I’m really fortunate that I’ve got some really amazing professionals looking after my care. I saw my medical oncologist yesterday evening and I knew whether to offer chemo or not was going to be the biggest question of the night. I expected Letrozole (a hormone inhibitor) as a maintenance for -I think- the rest of my life. But whether chemo was offered was something I was worried about/stuck on for quite some time.
Last night, my medical oncologist said that if it was her, she’d do chemo. I am young, and have a young family. I have a lot to live for. There is a chance it will help – and therefore its worth doing. I agree – in that I’ll try everything I can. I don’t want to regret not doing this and thinking back with a ‘what if’. I’m also happy to follow advice of medical experts.
So – chemo will start as soon as possible. Before Christmas. I was run through the side effects. I don’t think its going to be an easy time. I don’t think the kids will find it fun. But theres a chance it’ll help. So I’ll take it.
I’ve never bothered to have a physical bucket list. I always thought that if I wanted to do something badly enough I wouldn’t forget it. However certain life choices I’ve made have meant that I haven’t yet done any of them.
I went straight to uni after school instead of working to save for an OE. Then I figured I’d do my OE in my early 20s, after I’d finished uni. Except I never actually finished uni and fell for Greg. He came with a gorgeous daughter – so living and working overseas for a few years was no longer an option. That’s totally fine I thought, I’ll do the raising of the kids, and then do a fancy OE when I’m older. I’ll be able to do more, afford more. I’ll have decades to compile the mental list of places I want to go and landscapes I want to see.
When I started writing down a bucket list on Saturday morning, the stage of shock and denial unfortunately disappeared with suddenness. Should I only write down the things I know I can do realistically? What about the things that I’m fairly certain I’m not going to be able to do but have wanted to since I was a teenager? Do I write those down too? Because at the end of the day, I’m unwilling to miss out on time with the girls just to save enough to see the world I want to see.
How do you prioritise things you thought you’d have a lifetime to do? The New Zealand things we can do. I adore New Zealand and I’m going to share that with the girls. I want to see all of New Zealand with them. I wonder if they will be able to visit those places after I’m gone and remember me, and the time we spent together exploring. The extensive international travel I was planning on when I was older and the kids were grown – I suddenly realised on Saturday morning that it probably won’t happen. Some of it – maybe. I’ve always known I want to see the Northern Lights before I die. I want to see Norway, Sweden, Iceland. I want to visit Scotland and Ireland. I’d love to see Stone Henge. I want to see places so rich in cultural history I can’t comprehend it. I want to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. I want to spend months and months travelling around the Mediterranean. The Himalayas, the Great Barrier Reef, Machu Picchu and Thailand.
I wanted to go back to study… but is there any point? What if I actually do live a long life and I COULD have studied and got a great job after it. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I know I want to help people, and have a positive impact on the world in some small way. I just don’t know how to do that yet.
On a more immediate note, do I start a habit of watching the sunrise? Perhaps I need to get into meditation to help with the ability to stay in the moment. Or perhaps I need to become a tea drinker rather than coffee addict. I feel an intense pressure to be better, to do better. I don’t want the kids to remember me as a cranky, grumpy mum. I feel like it’s my last chance now to be the person I’ve wanted to be. Someone Greg and the girls can be proud of in years to come. I just don’t know if I’m up to the task.