Oxygen

Oxygen

I’m not a huge Billy Joel fan. Meh.

Over the last month there’s been a song stuck in my head, and it’s by him. Luckily, it’s not one I hate.

I was a senior in high school when I asked for his record for Christmas. It definitely stuck out in the rest of my new wave, alternative collection. I wanted it because I thought I was living my best life, and the song expressed how I felt.

The chorus rang,

These are the times to remember, ‘cause they will not last forever; These are the days to hold onto and we won’t although we’ll want to; These are the times, but times are gonna change…

Coiled up in those last few words of the chorus are the times we’re rolling through. The times you can’t define until they appear, but you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

The cumulative effect of Brian’s treatment has rendered him at times, a ghost of himself. So I’ve been waiting, always waiting for the worst (chemoradiation) to be over. At least I was until Brian made an off-handed comment a week ago. I was saying something about what we could do once he felt better, and he looked at me with sincerity and said, “I may not get better than this. This may be as good as it gets. This might be it.” I immediately rebuffed his comments, but he casually said that it was just reality.

Like it or not, this is real life.

I thought about his comment all week, but took action within 48 hours. A light went off. I was exhausted and needed a break, something I couldn’t admit until that moment. I booked a flight to Florida for the upcoming weekend to see a bestie and recharge my battery. I went somewhere where, for 48 hours, I would be taken care of.

So I had an adventure. It was Gasparilla weekend, a Mardi Gras type festival on the water in Tampa, which meant I flew to and from DFW with people dressed as pirates. I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter solo, immersing myself in a land I’d been reading about for most of Brian’s treatment (I’m on book four). Reading has been an opportunity to occasionally breathe in a magical land where evil lurks, but an overarching hope saturates the pages. I was even part of a marriage proposal where the groom-to-be dressed in a Spider-Man outfit (you can’t make stuff like this up). I held sign five of six, leading the unsuspecting woman to the proposal sight.

Suddenly I was recharged and smiling.

Brian’s words regarding his diagnosis reminded me of what I already knew, but was rejecting – life comes with no guarantees. Prioritize. Even though we’re going through something unsavory, appreciate what you can along the way and take time for yourself.

On the plane back it was obvious that prioritizing myself was in our best interest. Because being a good caregiver isn’t overextending yourself to exhaustion. To be a good caregiver, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

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