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One of the things I get asked a lot is, “Are things back to normal?”

The quick most accurate answer is the one no one wants to hear. No, things are not back to normal. But rarely do I feel at liberty to say that there are still things that are hard, still disruptions to our lives, still appointments to go to, still side effects to navigate, still limitations to what I can do. While I am “more me” than I was at this time last year or even three months ago, I am not fully back to it and quite honestly some of the things may ride with me for the rest of my life.

That said, now and then, I do finally feel like I get to touch normal for a minute. A couple of weeks ago, I got to have that experience and instead of an isolated moment, there were a multitude of moments strung together over about seven days. You see for the first time since my diagnosis over a year ago we went on vacation and I felt strong enough to particulate in all the things. I didn’t feel like I was the reason we were resting or hanging out at the condo.

We took long walks, swam, built incredible sand art and played lacrosse. We walked the main road going in and out of shops and visited nearby restaurants. We stayed up late and got up early. I could look at a map of the trolley route and make sense out of they map and the crazy timetable that goes with it. I figured out how to call and Uber and get groceries delivered from a store I don’t usually use to somewhere that was not my house. I packed and then remembered which bags held electronic devices and liquids in our multitude of carry on bags – we took 11 of them, 6 personal items and 5 suitcases.

Here is a glimpse at some of our touches of normal.

All of these things showed me glimpses of normal. All of these things showed me progress away from where I have been and towards where I want to be. All of these things let me touch the “normal” of my past.

Were there things that reminded me of where we are now? Every day. There were still times when I had to search for a word that I know that I know or that I called something by the wrong word. I got tired playing lacrosse far more quickly than I would have 18 months ago. Swimsuits fit far differently and some summer clothes can no longer be worn without showing scars. But to have so many “normal” moments strung together was special.

Now, I know that some of you are wanting to jump at me and scream “NORMAL CHANGES! YOU ARE IN A NEW NORMAL.” To you I would respond that no one knows that better than I do. But sometimes, for the sake of explanation, it is easiest to describe things as normal or new. So please, take a moment, realize that we still mourn the change of normal that cancer caused in our lives and hold that thought to yourself. Allow me to look back and to look forward because it is in that tension I can best walk forward.