One day, scrolling haphazardly thru Pinterest as I do when I’m lethally bored, I happened upon a “pin” of a Mason jar with the label “My Memories: 2013” displayed on the front. The object of this jar was to use it as a reservoir for all of the wonderful events that happened to its owner throughout the year; this way, on New Year’s Eve, the contents of the jar could be emptied and read in order to remember and reflect upon all of the wondrous delights of the year.
So, because I am prone to fits of wistful remembrance, I decided to make my own jar and label it “Good Things: 2013.” My jar has sat expectantly on the kitchen counter, waiting to be stuffed with scraps of paper scrawled with good tidings; however, my jar is all but empty. Two little crumpled papers lie at the bottom. The first one reads, “In court, the judge granted me nearly everything I wanted.” The second one reads, “I don’t have cancer.”
For two tiny slips of paper, they carry enormous weight.
Last month, a judge ruled that, in the best interest of my children, they should predominantly spend their weekdays with me. This was a plan that I had devised according to the wishes and desires of my three children; they are so happy these days. They are so relieved to finally have stability, comfort, unconditional love, attention and lots of laughter and kisses on a consistent basis. To see the judge’s decision in print has changed the future for the kids and me. Financially, it has wreaked havoc on me, but I don’t care. I would rather live the life of a pauper than to have my children be forced to live like nomads, ceaselessly shifting between their dad’s house and mine. Pre-teen time and adolescence are already marked by chaos and upheaval; there is no need for the drama of adults to add to that. And now it doesn’t. We are in a state of calm and comfort, and this bodes well for their years ahead and mine. But those years ahead would not be possible without the good fortune printed in bold on the second snippet of paper at the bottom of my jar.
In a little over a week, I am undergoing a Skin-sparing, Nipple-sparing Prophylactic Double Mastectomy with Immediate Reconstruction. It’s exhausting to say, much less to deal with mentally. I found out in February of 2012 that I am BRCA2+; I have a mutation of the breast cancer gene. Everyone has a BRCA 1 and 2 gene, which are tumor suppressing genes. If yours works the way it should, it keeps you from getting cancer. Because mine is mutated and doesn’t work, if cancer decides to do so, it can run wild in my breasts and ovaries. Luckily, I know about my predisposition to cancer, and I have managed to stay cancer-free, whereas many people in my family that are my age and BRCA2+ have not been so lucky. I don’t have cancer, and I can have preventative surgery to make sure it stays that way.
Everything ahead of me hinges on what’s noted on those two slips of paper in the bottom of my almost-empty jar. If the outcome of either of those major events had been different, my list of “Good Things” may well have stopped right there. I might have ended up with troubled, stressed out, resentful children, or worse, children who no longer have their mother at all.
Sometimes, a little perspective goes a long, long way, and instead of viewing these two scraps of paper as an indication that my year has not been so great or memory-worthy for the first four months, I will instead view them through a lens which reveals that even bits of paper can hold big potential for beauty and grace ahead; they are merely abbreviations for the joys that even two reams of paper could not hold. While I initially felt a bit disappointed when I looked at my jar and noticed it only contained two “Good Things,” I now realize this was my fault; I mislabeled my jar. Instead of calling it “Good Things: 2013,” I should have named it “Good Things in 2013 That Make Happy Tomorrows Possible.”