A Year Like No Other

Guest Post by Mary Nairn (my Mom!)

It seems inevitable that as the year draws to a close, we look back over the past 12 months, think of the good (and the not-so-good) things that have transpired, and muse about how the upcoming year may unfold.

For our family, this past year has been like no other – difficult, distressing, demanding, and yet strangely uplifting as it has played out.

Maybe not so odd that a much-quoted-quote from Dickens came to mind during these end-of-year musings. To be sure I had remembered it correctly, I looked up the quote but found when I did that the original phrasing seemed to fall in the wrong order.

So, with apologies to ‘Charles’, I have rephrased it slightly to more accurately describe the past year of our lives…

‘It was the WORST of times, it was the best of times; it was the year of UN-believability, it was the year of Reality; it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of Hope; it was months of Despair; we had nothing before us, we had everything before us.’

my translation…

The worst of times – the darkness of Lynsey’s brain tumour diagnosis.
The best of times – the rise of an absolutely incredible number of supporters… not just Lynsey’s official Firecrackers team who provided such strong support before, during, and after the Spring Sprint fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Foundation in May, but the many, MANY people – friends, relatives, neighbours, friends of friends, co-workers, even complete strangers – who rallied ‘round with prayers, advice, rides, donations, research, friendship, financial support, and yes, even SOUP!
The year of UN-believability – how was it possible that our beautiful, full-of-energy daughter who had just started out on her very promising career, could be diagnosed with a brain tumour?!
The year of Reality – MRI’s and neurosurgeons don’t lie.
The season of Darkness – the 12 month ‘sentence’ of chemotherapy with its many accompanying challenges and side effects – and, of course, worry.
The spring of Hope – discovering many medical and personal support opportunities, including the discovery of YACC (Young Adult Cancer Canada) and the knowledge that people – around the world in fact! – were, and ARE holding Lynsey in their thoughts.
Months of Despair – the months of despair.
We had nothing before us, we had everything before us – the ‘nothing-ness’ of being POST-chemo coupled with the sense that new possibilities lie before us leaves us open to explore ALL options with a very positive attitude.

…and THAT is as close to Dickensian as I shall EVER be, I’m sure!

Strange that shortly after writing the above, I read an incredibly relevant posting on a friend’s Facebook page. It really struck a chord with me – and fit perfectly with my thoughts above. (Strange how things sometimes align like this without any conscious
intention – a bigger plan here perhaps?)

On this friend’s page, they were paying tribute to Nobel prize winner Rita Levi-Montalcini, who had passed away that day (at age 103!) and they quoted her as saying…

“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.”

During the past year, our family’s life seems to exemplify Levi-Montalcini’s words – many extremely ‘difficult moments’ but definite evidence of ‘the best’ coming from them.

First and foremost, there is Lynsey herself. In ways hard for many of us to even try to comprehend, Lynsey has shown unbelievable courage, and a strength FAR beyond her young years – qualities that have carried ALL of us through this year I believe. She deals
with things in a way that continually blows me away, and makes me feel privileged to be by her side on this journey.

The remarkable rise of supporters around our family is another of those ‘best’ things this year. The old adage about the cream rising to the top really applies here, for we have seen people who were mere acquaintances prior to this year become the closet of friends, and complete strangers encircle our family with support in many forms.

And the last, but certainly not the least of the ‘best’ things have been the stripping away of the insignificant in our lives and a fine-tuning of the focus on everyday joy. Priorities have been sharply realigned – and all in a wonderful way. The reality is that EVERY day is a gift… for EVERYONE, not just people who are struggling with things – and the sooner we all GET this, the better off we will be!

Previously, I wrote about fear and worry. Now I feel enveloped by a strong sense of hope and a lightness that comes with the joy of being intimately connected to remarkable people.

With everyone’s continued support, and with Lynsey as the beacon to light our way, ‘the best’ will continue to rise from the ‘difficult moments’ that may challenge us down the road.

Together, I feel certain we will achieve a HAPPY and HEALTH-FILLED New Year!