What is "usual" or "normal" anyway?
So the marathon is done! Where to from here?
You may remember me saying that crossing that finishing line in the Marathon de Paris was going to mark the beginning of the rest of my life. What I didn't realise when I said that was how much confusion and anxiety would well up in me upon my return from Paris.
When you've come face to face with a life-threatening illness, the thought of life and death seems to be always on your doorstep. And the big question: "what is my purpose in life?" is forever weighing on your mind. At the end of my life, will I have done my Creator proud? When there is only a memory left of "Jennifer" here on this planet, will it be a memory that is pleasing to my loved ones?
In my day to day life as a wife and mum, and now that I'm back working part-time as a teacher, I have people who look to me for things like guidance, reassurance, love and nurturing. A responsibility sure, but also a great honour. So as I awake each morning, my aim is to quell any fears or anxieties I may have about cancer or death, or my purpose in life, and instead pray for peace and hope and the strength to put my "best face forward"!
It reminds me of exactly what most of us do on Facebook....of course we put our "best face forward". Our profile pictures are packed with beaming smiles, we upload photos that show us wondering around exotic Parisian streets, or visiting New York art galleries and the like, and we're busy creating a certain "self-portrait" for all the "Facebook world" to see.
But in the "real world", we have hard days, sad days, really bad days. Who wants to post these on Facebook. Well, I guess some people do, but who wants to read about it?
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009, the first thing I did was deactivate my Facebook account. I figured it was hard enough that my world had come to a screeching halt, I didn't want the torture of watching everyone else's go on without me! What I didn't quite realise at the time was that I was doing most people a huge favour - it was a case of "out of sight, out of mind". Unless one cared to contact me by some other means, or ask after me, they would never have known that my world consisted of constant visits to the hospital oncology unit, multiple painful surgeries, intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hair falling out in clumps and an unbearable change to my physical appearance, and an inner misery beyond words that could only be consoled by knowing I was loved - my Creator and my family loved me. This is what got me out of bed each day.
Eventually, I did reactivate my Facebook account. Why not? After all, I was starting to look "normal" again. I could now move on with my life as if nothing had ever happened.
But the thing is, something did happen. Something that can't be trivialised, or fixed by a simple "like" on Facebook. Something that has led to a cloud of confusion and the big question about my true purpose in life. A cliche? Maybe. But for those of you who truly love me and "get me", I know you'll wait patiently for me while I continue this journey of self-discovery :)
My road to Paris was not my final destination...
PS. By the way, I started the "Couch to 5K" training program today...I figure I'm not going to let anyone tell me that this body, miraculously fashioned by the amazing Creator of this universe, created to walk, run and dance in freedom, will never run again!
And this is what I listened to as I ran...