As each year passed, I became further and further removed from the word cancer. I continued dealing with my need to be hyper-aware of looking at people from the correct angle, but the actual fear that I had experienced with the surgery and treatment slowly began to fade into an isolated memory from my past. Since I no longer had the need to implore for a cancer cure, my relationship with God also faded in importance. Where was my authentic gratitude? It was sadly missing from my vocabulary, although I felt grateful after each good report and did give thanks in a quick superficial manner. It's difficult for me to look back and admit to myself and others that the relationship with God had been built purely on a foundation of need. I truly had no idea what I was missing. This meant I was left with only food and humor as my daily allies, and don't forget about my updated version of Pandora's Box.
By the time I entered college, I was only focused on meeting new friends and getting a degree in education. I made a conscious decision to put cancer into Pandora's Box where I wouldn't have to think about it or be reminded of the fear and pain it had caused me. As long as my secret was safe, I could be a normal college student with the normal concerns associated with college life. I began dating someone seriously, and within a few months he was drafted out of the university and into the army because of the war in Vietnam. Since this was the first deeply meaningful connection I had experienced, I was willing to work on keeping our bond intact while he served. During this time, it was not easy to have limited time together, but in my senior year he was discharged and we were able to resume our daily relationship. Soon after his return, we were engaged and busily planning our wedding. I was filled with joy and anticipation.
Jumping into a marriage so quickly after our years apart was not the best decision I ever made. It didn't take us long to discover that we did not share the same goals for the future. Mom and Dad had witnessed the differences between us, and both warned me to slow down before making a lifetime commitment, but I believed they were wrong. I felt they didn't understand the love we shared. Another thing they didn't know was that a few weeks before our wedding day, I found out I was pregnant. I didn't possess the courage to tell them this news. I trusted the strength of our union. Hindsight is 20/20...right?
After the birth of Jessica, it was difficult for my husband to understand this fresh life we had created required a lot of time and energy. Our baby was a new responsibility and I took it very seriously, fulfilling her basic needs with a depth of love I had never encountered. In a short time I came to understand my desire to live a conventional life, while my husband was more interested in continuing a life with a minimum of long-term restrictions on his energy, as well as a freedom to use his time as he chose. This time I did have the courage to speak the truth and admit my mistake. I became a single parent, creating a life with my daughter. This was the most difficult and yet finest choice of my entire life, a choice I have never regretted.