It was Janine’s birthday on Saturday and one of the gifts she received was a red Ikea chair.
Some of you will know that just prior to the election last May we acquired a ‘hat of reasonableness’. Discussions at the dinner table had become somewhat passionate and occasionally heated (apparently provoked by me – which I find hard to believe) and I decided we needed something that would bring order from the chaos. We adopted the rule that you were only allowed to speak whilst wearing the hat. Ellie still voted Lib Dem but then I am sure we are all guilty of youthful indiscretion.
Anyway, we have decided that the chair is to become ‘the red chair of contemplation’. It is ideally positioned for just sitting and thinking, for reading the paper or for chatting reflectively whilst the tea, coffee or dinner is made. Perhaps one day you will get to enjoy it. That would be nice. And I won’t make you wear the hat.
This year’s was probably not the best birthday Janine has ever had. There have been a lot of tears over the last week and Saturday morning was no exception. With such a positive prognosis before Christmas, the harshness of the treatment has been not just emotionally traumatic in itself but a brutal reminder of the previous cancer and all that entailed. To use a friend’s analogy, it is as if she has been picked up at the top of the stairs and thrown to the bottom again.
You know how strong Janine is yet even she has been on the edge of saying she can’t take the third cycle. It was a relief to her to find out today that she won’t now have that cycle next week as originally planned but that it will be postponed a week and she will have more time to recover. This next cycle will be the seventh round of high dose chemotherapy she has had in her life – with another two rounds having being cancelled because her heart and kidneys were not up to it. I’m not sure I’d want it either and would also have been reaching for the tissues.
Saturday did get better as friends dropped round and we also headed to sit by the river at Runnymede. A grey sky may have merged through a grey tree line into grey murky waters but there is something about sitting there at the bend in the river which restores and revives – even if you are drinking luke warm tea from styrofoam cups.
The plan had been to spend Saturday in Bristol adding another Carluccio’s to the ‘Carluccio’s we have been to on Janine’s birthday’ list, then catching up with The Student and watching her in the chorus of her first opera. In the end, more friends turned up when we got back from the river with a cake
and we spent Saturday evening with a home cooked Anglo Indian Sausage Curry (very nice) and Toy Story 3. I am growing a little concerned that my wife is developing an inappropriate relationship with Buzz Lightyear, particularly in his Spanish form.
This week has also been half term week down here. Monday was spent mostly at Royal Berks as Janine needed her PICC line unblocked and flushed. Thank you Hilary for taking her and waiting with her. Jon should buy you a Kindle for these occasions. I’ll put a word in for you. That trip also gave Janine the chance to see the treatment facilities at the Royal Berks and she was impressed. I somehow managed to add to the list of things you should not say to a cancer patient by remarking that this was really good to know ‘for next time’. Doh.
Another friend turned up with cup cakes. I didn't get a picture but I believe you might be able to see a sample on her blog :-) We did then manage Carluccios in Reading yesterday for a belated birthday breakfast.
This is turning into one of those Christmas family 'what we did this year' letters.
Anyway, today we saw spirits lifted completely as, with my deep thanks to Janine’s former school choir buddie and long term friend Amanda, Janine made it to Hayling Island for a much longed for bag of chips on the beach and a visit to the wonderful David and Evelyne. As I contemplate this road trip, I have Thelma and Louise in my mind. Not the ending obviously but the potential trail of destruction left in their wake. Go girls …….
In one of many drafts of this post I mused at this point on Psalm 23 and valleys and shadows of death. I’ll leave it instead with asking simply that, if you are praying for us, please pray that Janine knows the peace and comfort and presence of God in this particular period of darkness that she has spoken about before and that she dearly wants again.