I have a very small army and I never realised how much I under appreciate them until this journey started. I don’t think you ever do until a crisis kicks in and then you know who you can turn too. I also realised I had more than I ever thought when I rashly signed up to do a 26 mile and all of a sudden I have a number of people joining me either directly on the walk or in support, that totally blew me away too.
All of these people mean more to me than they could ever know. They are my world and my heroes and while my old life (pre cancer) was good, I couldn’t have anticipated or realised how much I needed them to be by my side. Let me name and shout about them here, as I think they deserve a shout out!
The man cub – he’s going to be furious about being shouted about! But its tough – he needs it! Unassuming and letting me talk about my journey he is my absolute world. His only comment when I started putting some of my message out there was never to surprise him with what I wrote. This might surprise him! But I couldn’t do this journey without him. I won’t pretend that we have had the perfect relationship in our fifteen years together (fifteen?? I can’t believe it has actually been fifteen!!). We have had a few rocky moments as most relationships, a bit feistiness from us both at the beginning when we knew we wanted to be together but were stubbornly holding onto the single life advantages! But we have laughed and made memories that I wouldn’t want to make with anyone else. From the moment we had the cub we changed and regardless of the fact he still infuriates me (ironing – does itself apparently!) I wouldn’t have done this parenthood journey with anyone else. We have picked each other up when we are down, supported each other through work and life tribulations, and now he sits with me in a chemo ward (for no other reason but just to be there) and attends every appointment that I have told him he doesn’t need too. He pretends he is strong but now crys a little easier at a sad story on the TV! (will kill me for that!). He is the ‘cutest and bestest daddy’ (as quoted by the cub) in the whole wide world, and makes me smile at least once every day. He won’t be walking 26 miles – looking after the cub he declares (?!), but I know he will be at there throughout the day and at the finish line to cheer me through.
My inner circle – life itself can get in the way sometimes of a catch up. There’s those school friends who scattered for Uni, relocation now means we see each other less than we would like, and other challenges of parenthood, full time jobs, cub activities, and precious family time mean we catch up only a couple of times a year. There is the special one I met at Uni and I couldn’t live without her and her beautiful family. Through all the distance and time, we catch up as if we hadn’t been apart. I am also lucky to have a small group of people who have joined my inner circle over the years and they have added quality and depth to my life that I didn’t know was missing. I have grown as a person by knowing them and I treasure them as they have broken down my walls and know most about me (I need to keep them close!!). They also (shockingly!) share much of our interests – rugby watching, a good night out (very rare!) and good old fashioned banter. They fit right in!
My work colleagues (old and new) – first up to join the walk was the amazing Becca, who without hesitation joined (I think she might have been drunk!) when I mentioned I had signed up. Then came our Audrey (who I don’t think I’ve ever referred to as anything other than ‘our’ Audrey for a long time!). Then followed a group of (possibly coerced!) colleagues who for their own individual reasons are making the leap with me and I am entirely grateful. All are either walking or cheerleading (or donating – if they don’t know yet!) and their support (cards, flowers, time, donations) are all so gratefully received – they just don’t know how much. Hopefully they do now.
Officers (old and new) – now how to explain this wonderful bunch of people. I work with elected officers who are closer to their student life than I am to old age (!) and they are an amazing, talented and driven group of people. I have old and new Officers joining me, and I can’t wait to catch up, feel proud all over again of their achievements (I feel like a surrogate mammy in most instances), while they make me feel old all over again! I love and hate them!!
Those not doing the walk but have been cheerleading from the sidelines throughout this journey fall into two main groups:
Parentals – my biggest cheerleaders and the ones I can turn to at anytime. They drive me mad on an almost daily basis, but that’s to be expected as they are closer to me than anyone. They are the people I can push away when I am struggling and can get much of my flak, because they will come back. I appreciate that’s perverse but my parents have my back and see the best and worst of me. I don’t tell them enough what they mean to me, I would hope they know. But I wouldn’t and couldn’t be the person I am today without them.
Extended family – when I met the man cub I had little realisation what a big family looked like! And then I joined a Scottish (there are some English in there!) clan that I love dearly! They are bonkers, wonderful, crackers and loving all in one and they have accepted me into the fold and loved me as one of their own. They adopt you in with no expectation other than to be yourself. Their unfiltered love for me has humbled me and their acceptance has made so happy, words are not enough to portray.
I realise that I have gushed somewhat in the telling of my army story, and this will come as a shock to most people I know. But I need each and everyone of them to realise that they play a special role in helping me in this horrible journey and my life in general. From the sentiments they write, the jokes they tell, the hugs they give (I’m not a brilliant hugger but I do like one!), the actions they take – every single bit of it means more to me than I can ever scribe well enough to explain. They make me feel like I have got this. And I’ll keep fighting to show them I have.