Note: since we're both pilots, our "rule" when we fly is that whoever is sitting in the right seat (the non-pilot seat) must address the other one as "captain." Example: "Did you realize you're a few degrees off your heading, Captain?"
|John as PIC (pilot in command). Somehow we have more pictures with him in the left seat than with me in the left seat. Hmmm.|
On tonight's flight, I asked John to give me feedback on my landings. The winds were light and the air was smooth. Our flight went well and I did three good landings.
One thing I need to work on is when I'm flying in turbulence. We encounter some light to moderate turbulence from time to time. When you're flying through that turbulence, you have to learn to just ride through it, and not try and over-control the airplane to fight it. I tend to over-control my way through it, which makes the bumps more noticeable instead of less.
After today's flight, John and I were talking about Alex and life in general, now that we are home and trying to get back to "normal," whatever that means.
John compared life in the last year and a half to that airplane turbulence, and how we have to ride through it without trying to continually fight it. When we fly, we put on our seatbelts, set our controls for straight and level flight, and set our course. Once that is established, the idea is not to chase every bump and burble in the wind. We have to know when to change the controls, and when to just ride through the bumps. Life is like that, too. You have to know when to adjust, and when to just ride through the bumps.
Alex is doing amazingly well. He's in remission. His maintenance chemo is going well. He looks great. His color is good, he's getting hair and whiskers and eyelashes and eyebrows.
|Alex - February 2016 - Day +36 after stem cell transplant. No hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows, but starting to feel better.|
|Dad and Alex - March, 2016|
|Alex - March 2016 - Doesn't he look great?|
It's like we're back on course to where we were fifteen months ago. We were adjusting to being empty nesters and figuring out the next phase of our lives. Alex was gaining independence and adjusting to his new home and life as well.
I'm going to be completely honest here. I've tried to be honest in all my posts up to this point, and I'm not going to stop now. Life should be all roses right now, but it doesn't feel that way.
On paper, our lives look amazing right now. Alex is doing well and is in remission. Jessica and Rusty are doing great and live 25 miles away. (I still can't believe that's true!) John and I are back at work full time and have some free time to ourselves.
In reality, it just feels "off." I'm not unhappy, and I'm well aware of all that I have to be grateful for, but I'm not exactly happy, either. It's like there's residual turbulence left from the last fifteen months.
After living with the fear that Alex could die, and after losing several people close to me in the last fifteen months, I find myself questioning what I'm doing with my life. What is my purpose? What am I waiting for? I don't want to live with regret, and my priorities have certainly shifted. There is certainly a fair amount of "YOLO" going through my mind.
When I took Alex to his psych appointment a few weeks ago, his doctor described the process the brain goes through during a trauma. The brain learns really quickly that it's in danger, but it takes a whole lot longer for it to learn that the danger is over. On average, he said, it takes about nine months to recover from a trauma like we've been through.
Apparently, this is yet another time when I'm supposed to be patient. I can't expect to go through all that I've gone through, all that our family has gone through, in the last fifteen months and be unchanged. And even though we've resumed the life we were living before Alex's cancer, it really isn't the same. We're not the same.
I have to trust that we can make it through this phase, too. I have to give myself permission to feel what I'm feeling, and work through it. I have to remember that this, too, will take time.
Cancer has left its scars, and not just on Alex. John and I have them, too. Although the scars may never disappear, I am confident that they will heal in time. We'll be able to ride through the turbulence.