As I recently emailed one friend, as we tried to find a common date when we could all get together, it's that most wonderful time of the year...except when it is not. I'm in the midst of the "not" right now.
While the oral chemotherapy regimen continues to go well ("well" being a very relative term), a constant side effect of both it and ten years of myeloma is fatigue. Deep-in-the-bones fatigue. Fatigue way past something a short nap or a good night's sleep helps. Fatigue pretty much owns me.
That ownership, in turn, impacts what I am able to accomplish on any given day. Despite my best efforts, despite pacing myself, I still get to the late afternoon and start taking items off of my to-do list. For example, I had hoped after work to (a) visit Aunt Ginger (I was way overdue to check in on her, thanks to fatigue), (b) deliver a batch of cookies as a holiday gift to a friend, (c) bake another batch of biscotti (maybe two) for some other holiday gifts, (d) pack a box of items to ship to Alise for her agency's holiday gifting for the families they serve, and (e) finish peeling and slicing the culled apples (which have been on the floor of the percussion room since Sunday) so that I can get them bagged and frozen for National Pie Day in January.
I made it to Aunt Ginger's apartment for an upbeat visit and I got the box packed and ready to ship. It is just now eight p.m. and if I rouse myself from the couch, I may get the apples peeled, sliced, and in the freezer.
Or I may not.
I am still hoping to observe Hanukkah this year, although as I type these words, I lack a menorah and candles and am not sure I can easily find any at this late date. Hanukkah starts at nightfall on December 16. I already know I will not get any candles lit until later that evening because our last legal clinic of 2014 is that same evening.
The beauty of Hanukkah is that the half hour or so spent watching the candles burn down all but guarantees a small, distinctly carved island in time. You are forced, gently and with flickering lights, to slow down, to ease up, to rest. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner said it best: "At the darkest time of year, the tiniest bit of light reminds us that we are all whistling in the dark and hoping, by these rituals of miracles of candlelights and bulbs on evergreens, we remember the divine presence."
I'll be looking for that tiniest bit of light come December 16. I may have the fatigue of a shipwreck survivor by then, but I plan on being on that island, hugging the sand, grateful to be washed ashore.