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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Finish Line

One hundred percent of you will probably disagree, but I'm an introvert at heart.

Sure, I love to talk. I'm very social. I love seeing my friends and I LOVE telling stories.

I've been known to dance on a stage. And on a bar. And I may or may not have done a crowd-induced keg stand or two in my previous life.

Nowadays, my social interactions are more low-key. I love dates with Patrick - he is my best friend and I cherish time alone with him. I love hanging out with the kids and spending time as a family. I consider drinking coffee with girlfriends one of life's greatest pleasures. I could sit around for hours just chatting. I love to go on group trips. I like to give advice and happen to specialize in solving all of life's problems over a glass bottle of wine. I enjoy advocating for special needs and discussing pediatric cancer. I've even been asked by St. Jude to do some public speaking and help with fundraising.

All of those things make me happy. Other people are a huge part of my life. 

But, I recharge and reinvigorate when I'm alone.

The older I get, the more I cherish moments completely and solely to myself. I like to write and read and think and meditate. I like to breathe and focus and have a few minutes of Zen before the chaos resumes.

I guess the proper term for me would be an ambivert. I love being alone, but I also love my people.

So, it's safe to say that the situation I'm in does not lend itself well to my ambivert-ness.

I'm never alone, because I'm with a (really cute) 20-pound dude every second of the day. As I mentioned in my last post, we can't go anywhere or do anything. Unless of course it's leukemia-related. Which -as fun as it is - just isn't the same as say, going outdoors or being allowed into public buildings. 

So, we either sit around the apartment or we sit around the hospital. We try to be creative with our time, but mama isn't feeling too inspired these days. We're getting a little sick of each other to be honest. Pardon the pun.

In addition to my rousing personal life, I have zero social life in Memphis. Unless you count doctors and nurses as friends. Which, I try not to, because a friendship would really get in the way of me ordering them around and asking 450 million questions every week. 

I've been lucky to have friends and family come in and keep me company. But, we're usually pretty busy with all things Cancer, and before I know it, we're saying goodbye.

I have seen my husband probably a total of a month and a half since November, and almost none of it has been quality time. The four of us have been together as a family even less.

All that to say, I'm pretty run down. 

I find myself feeling lonely, but I would give anything to be ALONE. 

It's quite the ironic predicament. 

The days are getting harder even though they are getting fewer. 

I tell myself that this is almost over. That we are thisclose to being a family again. 

So close to going home. To being free from chemotherapy and doctors and hospitals and medicine and horrible side effects. Free from low-immunity and central lines and IV's and leukemia and all of the fears and concerns that come along with it.

That soon we will be able to go outside and to the grocery store and to the playground. That we will be able to see friends and go out to dinner and over to other people's homes. That Reid will be able to take baths and sleep without pain meds and eat real food. That he will have the freedom and the energy to learn how to walk and talk and do all of the things toddlers are supposed to be doing. That he'll soon be able to play with other children and -- more importantly -- with his own sister. 

I remind myself that we will be so grateful when this is all done and our little boy is healed. That we will be a family again. We'll play and travel and throw parties and have friends over. We'll wake up each morning and go to sleep each night without spending hours and hours of time each day devoted to this horrible disease. 

But, in a way, being close to the end makes it more difficult.

Pat likens it to a marathon -- not that I would know. When you're on Mile 22, you just want to give up. You're exhausted and worn out and you could just collapse at any minute. (And frankly, you wouldn't care. Because at least you could rest that way.)

The end seems lightyears away. And even though you know you will feel like a champion when it's over, you just don't know how you're going to make it to the finish line. 

Some days I feel as though I will absolutely lose it. I feel like I can't administer one more IV or pin him down for one more dressing change. I can't see any more blood or vomit or tears. I feel like I will scream if I hear another half-assed answer from one of his doctors. If I stay indoors for one more second or go one more day without seeing my husband and daughter, I will simply explode. 

I really don't know how we're going to make it some days. 

But, I know that we will. 

We just have to find the strength and follow our instincts. 

And my instincts are telling me that I need a break. So today, I'm packing my bags and heading home to Shreveport for a while.

I'm going to spend the weekend with friends and family. I'm going to laugh and dance and watch my little brother marry a woman we all adore.

I'm going to spend time with my daughter and have coffee with friends and go out to dinner any night I see fit.

I'm going to recharge and rest and read and have a few glorious hours alone each day while Elle is in school.

I'm going to celebrate my little girl's fourth birthday and give her the rainbows she's been asking for. If anyone deserves a rainbow, it's The Divine Miss Elle. 

I'm going to let Patrick and my mom take the reigns in Memphis -- they can do the Cancer thang for a while.

And after I rest for a bit, I'm going to come back to Memphis and finish this race. I know I won't be alone. I'll have my friends, my family, and one very strong, very capable little boy to guide me.

And when we finally reach the end, it will be the most amazing victory. 

A finish line and a starting point all in one.  








A couple of pics from our St. Jude photo session!



7 comments:

  1. Brooke---I'm happy for you. I am glad that you are going to take a break and do all the things you mentioned. How can we be strong for our loved ones if we don't allow ourselves the time to revamp and replenish all that we have lost from hours of worry, etc. He is absolutely gorgeous. Loving the pictures. Go ahead mama! Do your thing...it will only make you that much stronger :)

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  2. First of all, GORGEOUS photos! How can you both look so amazing after all this?!? Secondly, I'm soooo glad you're getting break. If anyone deserves it, it's you. Go recharge your batteries and get a taste of the joie de vivre that awaits you once you close this challenging chapter. Love you!

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  3. Love this. Enjoy every second in the Shree. Glad you are getting a little Memphis reprieve! You just inspired me to make it over my own finish line, so thanks for that. Love you and miss you.

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  4. Just catching up on your blog. You have all the makings of a great book with just your blog & the Caring Bridge Journal. You are an incredible writer!! Love LoVe LOVE the photos!!! Reid is such a trooper!!! All my love & hugs to each of you!! Aunt K

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  5. So glad that you get to chase after some solace, it's long overdue. Hope it's a mind/body/soul cleanse for you so that when you roll back into Memphis all the ugliness and worry will slide right off. Your needs are valid and I'm glad your taking time to address them so that you can keep doing the awesome job that you're doing. It was so good to see you this weekend and I can't wait to come veg with you in the fall. ILY-S

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  6. As always, I am blown away by your ability to write better than most people who have books on the New York Times Best Seller list. I am so glad that you got some much MUCH needed time in Shreveport, qt with the lil miss & Pat, with friends, and peaceful alone time for yourself. You and Pat are so incredibly strong -- and such an inspiration to anyone and everyone who's path you all cross. The end is near. And even though it has been one HELL of a year for ya'll, it will most certainly be -- as you stated -- one heck of a victory to have won. We are counting down the days here in the Shree for ya'll and cannot wait to celebrate the return of the Conley fam!! love and kisses from all your girls-- we love ya'll so much!! #REIDSTRONG
    Hooray for No Mo Chemo!!!!!!!
    love, B

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  7. Oh and P.S... Those pictures were so awesome. Reid is THE cutest nugget on the planet and mama be looking super fab too! WERK it.
    Love you, B

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