It's been a year.
About a year since, on the front steps of an autumnal New Haven porch, my dad called. Your mother has cancer, she has cancer, and I need you here. Come home. Six hours into a ten hour drive, I turned around and headed back, fielding tearful calls from my younger siblings. I only made it to the Bronx. My sweet cousin Elizabeth wrapped me in her arms as I sobbed all night, and the next day she drove me all the way to Virginia. Staring blankly into the unknown of a cancer diagnosis, I couldn't stop thinking, How many weeks do we have left?
It's been over a year, and she's still here.
It's also been about a year since I made one of the scariest decisions of my professional life. In the winter of my fourth year in graduate school, I was awarded my dream postdoctoral fellowship to study elephants up at Cornell. How could I refuse? But I was nowhere near ready to defend my dissertation, and I knew that saying yes would mean nine grueling months of work that should have spanned the next eighteen. I hadn't planned for my mom to have stage 4 lung cancer, and I hadn't planned to actually get the fellowship, but here we were. I talked it over with friends and family, then decided I couldn't say no. Despite the extreme difficulty to get where I am today, I'm so glad I accepted.
2023 has been quite a year: A year of stress, heartache, and tears -- but also extreme love, community, friendship, and hope. My mother might have died. I almost did as well. But we haven't yet. We are thriving. Blood thinners and targeted immunotherapy are wonderful things. I know this won't last forever, but I often think about where I was last year. We've had about sixty weeks, and I'm hoping for at least sixty more.
I've had a year to be thankful to all the friends and family, professionals and admin, kind strangers and mentors who helped me get through the most emotionally strained 12 months of my life. My perspective on life has changed drastically. I know now how precious time is, and I don't intend to waste any that remains. Friends, family, nature--these are the things I want to surround myself with, to pour my energy into. Everything else is just stealing time.
Life is short, you only live once, carpe diem.
2023, you've taught me a lot, but you've also been an absolute bitch. Here's hoping 2024 is a little gentler.
Update 19 Dec: Two hours after posting this, I tested positive for covid. 2023 just won't let up, will it?
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