Rambling September Thoughts...

It is so hard for me to believe we are into the month of September. I keep thinking about last September, which I've already mentioned in a recent blog post. It doesn't seem possible that a whole year has passed since John was beginning chemo. Reflecting on what we were going through last year just makes me appreciate this year - and our blessings - so much more.

Our close friends, Mark & Anita, have a sky box at MTSU. And we are often invited to join them for Blue Raiders football games. We don't go to every game, but we've always gone to a few each season. Last year we didn't go to any. It wasn't that John was so sick the entire season that he couldn't have ever gone. It was more our concern for his compromised immune system; being in such a confined space with a lot of other people just didn't seem wise.

One of the side effects of chemo that John experienced was a complete lack of interest in anything social. Chemo doesn't just affect a person physically; it also affects you emotionally. John was "done" being around people by the end of the day and just wanted to be home with me when he wasn't working. Although he kept up his normal routine and never missed work other than treatment weeks, I knew he was exhausted at the end of every day. So we did a lot of hibernating last fall/winter.

John has had Titans season tickets ever since I've known him (and before I knew him). We normally miss only occasional home games. But I'm not sure we went to any games last year. Maybe one early in the season. We never considered going after it got cold, though. Again, it just didn't seem wise. Staying home and avoiding crowds and cold weather seemed like the smart decision. So we stayed home and watched on TV.

Prior to meeting John, I had only been to one Titans game. But ever since we've been together, fall means football. We have great seats and we've even been invited to join friends in a company sky box a few times (which is really a treat and not something I ever imagined myself doing). Over time, Titans games have become a routine part of my fairytale life with John. But they won't feel routine this year because of what we went through last year. I just feel such an overwhelming sense of gratitude for every part of my life; including the privilege of enjoying a football season with my husband and friends.

I didn't attend MTSU or grow up in Murfreesboro, so I wasn't an instant MTSU sports fan. But even if you're not totally into the game, it is a privilege to have an open invitation to join friends in their sky box. And that has also become a routine part of every fall. When John and I were first together, I wasn't totally at ease in these settings. I felt like the new kid in school. It seemed like everybody knew everybody else in this town (especially at MTSU football games) and I knew no one. I wondered if I would ever be able to remember all the names and connect them to the right faces. I always had a good time. Everyone I met was so warm and welcoming. My "new life" often seemed too good to be true. But I was also out of my comfort zone.

You have to remember that I grew up and spent most of my life in a very tight community where most of my friends had known me all my life and vice versa. So it was surreal to leave that coccoon of an environment and then start fresh in a whole new community where I initially knew no one other than John, Mark and Anita. I felt just a bit like an outsider no matter how warmly I was received.

It took a little time, but today it almost feels like I've always lived in Murfreesboro. And so many of the friends God has blessed me with feel like lifelong friends - not new friends. In the beginning, I remember wondering if I would ever feel like I completely fit in. But the reality is I have never felt as connected to so many people or enjoyed such a sense of "belonging" to a community before in my life. Murfreesboro is by far the best place I have ever lived. And my life has never been so happy. What was at first a bit overwhelming (adapting to living in John's world and knowing virtually no one) has become a comfort zone surpassing anything I've ever previously known.

Last night we went to the first MTSU home game of the season with Mark and Anita. I don't remember feeling deprived of going last year. It wasn't a big deal. Our focus was on getting John through chemo. But I think last night was so much more special to me because we didn't get to go at all last season. I don't remember ever enjoying a night of MTSU football quite as much as I enjoyed last night. I savored the privilege. I did not take it for granted. And I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our friends. I kept thinking about how thankful I am for every day. I'm so thankful that John's CLL is under control and we can enjoy the little pleasures in life that are so easily taken for granted.


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