Sunday, April 25, 2010

A weekend away...

I spent this past weekend in DC. It was our anniversary on Saturday, and we both had to be in DC/Baltimore for work, so we took advantage of the free travel and extended the trip to spend the weekend visiting friends and our old haunts.

It was great. We miss DC terribly. Not that we regret moving. Compromises are complicated and our move from DC, while a compromise, has been overwhelmingly positive.

But, still, our hearts are still in the town where we lived when we were engaged and married, and where I had lived for years before.

And it was wonderful to reconnect with a few very close friends who came to meet us. It made me realize how much I missed being near my girlfriends. You see, I haven’t really connected with anyone in my “new” town. I’ve been here more than four (really close to five) years, and for lots of reasons—including that I spend more time with family than seeking out friends, that I had a crazy busy job for all but three months of the time I’ve been here, and that I just am not convinced I connect with or have much in common with folks up here—haven’t really made social ties. It’s kind of strange for me, to be honest. I’ve never been somewhere—a job, a school, anywhere—where I haven’t at least met one friend. So, on some level, it’s been a little lonely.

On the other hand, having family nearby has been a godsend. Literally. I don’t know how we would have gotten through the first two years of raising twins without my parents, or hubby’s parents. And the connection my kids have with my mom and dad is priceless and worth whatever compromises we’ve had to make.

But, times are changing, as they always do, and it’s looking more and more likely that we will end up moving back down to the DC area. It will be, of course, a compromise. Leaving our family at this point will be both sad and painful to our daily routines. But, on the other hand, I think hubby and I will willingly get behind the move. We don’t love our state, we miss the DC area, and we would be very excited to be back.

There’s so much to tell about the weekend that I hardly know where to begin.

Saturday was our sixth anniversary—the third anniversary I’ve passed since I started blogging. Isn’t that crazy? That means I’ve officially been blogging for more of my marriage than not. Weird. It was nice to be back down in DC for this anniversary, in particular, though. We were able to connect with our old selves—the pre-kids and pre-absolute-and-total chaos selves. I miss those people. I’m so tired and high strung these days, and it has inevitably taken its toll on our marriage. (Not in an I’m-worried-that-we-might-not-make-it way, but it can still be very tough. And I miss just getting to “be” with hubby; just the two of us, just laughing and doing fun things free from daily chores and worries.)

While I was down there, I was also able to connect with one of my best and closest friends. She was my maid of honor and my roommate for several years. She knows me better than almost anyone and we just kind of get each other. I love seeing her; it always feels like no time has gone by and like I’m coming home.

But this time was a little different. This friend is 35 and single. (She’s beautiful and the greatest person I’ve ever met, so I’m not sure why that’s so, but it is.) She wants marriage and kids but just hasn’t found the right person.

Anyhow, she’s had to endure more sadness in her life than she deserves. She lost her dad at 16 and had to deal with a lot of turmoil after that. Has watched a cousin die of Lou Gehrig’s disease (awful) and countless aunts/uncles/grandparents die of cancer. Just very sad.

And,
because she has such a history of cancer in her family—all of her grandmother’s sisters died of either ovarian or breast cancer, several in their 30s—her doctor has been pushing her to be tested for the “breast cancer gene.”

Long story short, she has it. The doctors did a full workup and this baseline scan was clean, but they are recommending an immediate double-mastectomy and removal of her ovaries at 40.

This is awful in its own right, but complicated by three things:

  1. She’s single, but wants kids. So now she must decide, fairly quickly, whether she’s going to seek out a sperm donor and have a baby on her own and whether she’ll try to freeze some of her eggs (a very experimental procedure with no guarantees of anything),
  2. She’s dedicated her career to working in Catholic education and there is a nonzero chance that she would be fired if she did fertility treatments and got pregnant as a single woman, and
  3. If she switches her insurance company now, she runs the risk of never being covered again because this genetic discovery is a pretty serious “pre-existing condition.”

It’s so awful on so many levels and it makes me so very angry that I can hardly see straight.

As some of you know, I’m a HUGE supporter of Catholic education, so I’m not looking for piling on the Catholic church or Catholic schools.

But, I just can’t help but look at her situation and be FURIOUS. She just deserves better. More. She shouldn’t have to weigh whether she’ll lose her insurance—or her JOB—if she decides to pursue what may be her only chance to have a baby.

I don’t even know how to process all of this for her. I’m of course helping her try to look for jobs, and connecting her to my sister-in-law who might be able to give her advice on the medical side. But other than that, I just feel so helpless.I really wish I understood why such awful things happen to such wonderful people. I just don’t get it and never will. And I don’t understand how I got so lucky when so many others have to suffer so regularly.

So, for today, I’ll be thinking of my dear friend. And counting my many blessings.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

wow, you had quite a weekend. how awful for your friend. makes me rethink how i feel about getting tested - my sister and i have been wanting to test for the gene because of a ton of family history, but do i really want to know? my aunt, a survivor, is strongly against it and also against preventative mastectomy, but it's all so complicated, each person i guess can only figure out what is right for herself. i hope your friend finds peace with whatever she decides.

there are extremely few situations in life where i indulge in disney princess thinking, but wouldn't it be handy if her prince charming would show up now, fall deeply in love, knock her up, and pop out some babies real quick so she could decide without risking her future family? because that whole baby making thing is a cinch, right?