Change is good, but not all at once

At the end of 2009, frustrated from years of dealing with cancer treatment, I proclaimed 2010 would be “The Year of Dunder.” No more cancer stuff, no more coasting through life in neutral. It was going to be my time to shine.

In hindsight, 2010 could potentially be one of the best years of my life. I established myself as a happy, healthy, energetic 30-something, made a lot of new friends and tried new things. Perhaps best of all, 2010 was also the year I met Justin, the man who is now my fiance. For someone who spent her previous years going from doctor appointments to hospital testing to cancer treatments, I thought I grew a lot as a person in 2010.

However, 2010 turned out to be nothing as far as major life changes go. I never did come up with a slogan for 2011, although several well-meaning friends offered suggestions like “The Year of Dunder 2.0” and my personal favorite, “The Decade of Dunder.” Nine months in to this unnamed year, I’m wondering if “The Year of Change” might be an appropriate moniker?

You see, Justin and I were engaged in March and will be married this November. In June, I changed jobs (which is the second best decision I made this year-I think you all can figure out the first). Earlier this year, my mom-my best friend and caretaker through everything-was diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. And just this past weekend on Friday I changed my state of residence and became a West Virginian after being an Ohioan my entire life, on Saturday I had my bridal shower and on Sunday I turned another year older.


Admittedly, the week leading up to this past weekend was lousy. I spent a great deal of time thinking about everything I’d been through regarding cancer treatment, because this is the time of year when everything happened. So I really wasn’t in the best frame of mind to charge head on into what was sure to be an action-packed weekend.

I left work a little early Friday afternoon so Justin could take me over to the West Virginia DMV in Moundsville. Good thing we went early! First off, construction on Route 2 made traffic a nightmare. And secondly, the DMV was ridiculously busy. We waited in a roped off line, sort of like we were waiting in line for a roller coaster in an amusement park, except much less fun because there was no fast moving steel machine at the end (unless you count the gadget that was spitting out plastic drivers’ licenses).

I had to jump through tons of hoops and sign dozens of papers . At one point I turned to Justin and said, “I signed less papers before my stem cell transplant.” Honestly, I don’t understand how someone could try to thwart the law by moving to a new state and getting a new license-there’s no way they can produce proper documentation to do it legally. I basically had to promise the DMV my not-yet first-born!

Justin later informed me that I was getting “testy” with the gentleman behind the counter. I thought, “Great. Maybe he’ll remember me when I come back in two months to change my name.”

With that unpleasant experience behind me, I got little sleep in anticipation of the next huge event: my bridal shower. My mom, aunts and godmother did all the planning, so I had little to worry about in that regard. But my nerves were shot by the time I arrived. Several people told me later that I did “great” speaking in front of everyone. Speaking in front of people is not a source of anxiety for me-I think I was worked up just because of the meaning of the event. Having my bridal shower is one giant step closer to marriage. That was the one event still providing some distance between now and the wedding date, but with the shower out of the way, the next step is the wedding. There is still so much to do-a lot of details-that we need to sort out in two short months.

My birthday on Sunday capped off my busy weekend. As I scrolled through the 70-plus posts from friends wishing me a great day on my Facebook wall, everything hit me at once. Did one person really deserve all this love and all this attention?

There were times during my cancer treatment when I was not working. Without a paycheck coming in, I had to live off of my meager savings. I learned to spend money only on important things, like food and gas, basically to the point where I actually felt guilty if I spent any money on myself. Some of those feelings of guilt came rushing back on Sunday. Who am I to deserve such a beautiful shower and equally beautiful family members who planned it all out for me? Maybe it’s a tradition to shower the bride with gifts, but do I really deserve such nice things?

I’m not really a weepy person, but these thoughts made me cry. And the tears just kept coming like a waterfall once they started. My sister, a psychologist, assured me that this was actually a normal reaction. “You lived in one place for a long time,” she told me. “It’s hard to leave no matter what the circumstance.”

“So are you saying I’m normal?” I wanted to know. And she quickly replied, “Well no. Sorry, I didn’t mean to give you false hope.”

But my sister is right (don’t tell her I said that). I’ve just had a lot of milestone events this year, not all of them good. In fact, job changes, marriage and change in health of a family member are among the top 10 causes of stress. Do I get a ribbon or something for knocking so many of those off the list in one year?

Now I can look back on everything that happened this past weekend with a sense of calm. In the grand scheme of things, it was just another weekend in an anything-but-typical year. I’m thankful to be happy, healthy and loved. And I don’t really mind change-but I just don’t like it all at once! Perhaps Winston Churchill said it best: “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”