from Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means


It’s strange how we can lose things that are still right there. How a barrier can go up at any moment, trapping you on the other side, keeping you from what you want. How the things that hurt are the things we once had. p 276

Two nights ago I woke from a sound sleep, sobbing in response to a dream I was having. I might have been startled awake by our elderly dog, tags jingling near the door anxiously waiting for someone to let her out. As soon as she was finished, I climbed the stairs; the feeling rushed through me again. I had been told I had 3 months to live. Just 12 short weeks. In the dream I couldn’t take a deep breath, I was weak and I felt powerless to prove the doctor wrong.

I haven’t been able to shake the intensity of those emotions. This week has had an undercurrent of disappointment and malaise running underneath it. T had play tryouts that didn’t go as well as he expected, things at work are piling up for M and with the weather being what it is on the coast this weekend, I won’t be visiting my dear friends in Portland.


When you’re deep in it, the world feels like it’s wrapped in a mauzy gauze and you can’t see anything beyond. But this morning the sun is shining and that always perks my mood. Today is also Winter Carnival at the high school, which means there will be games and doughnuts and pies. Today is also the last day of school before Winter Break. Tonight the three of us are attending a baking party and we will come home with a raspberry tart, covered in little hearts. Perfect for Valentine’s day.

Tomorrow promises to be lovely, as people come to make valentines at the Library. Some to take home and some for distribution at the senior center. Instead of being in the car making a journey across snow covered roads, I will be safe and warm with my family surrounded by paper, glue and cut-out hearts. Hoping that whatever we create will bring a little joy to someone who may not have much to anticipate.

I am not anywhere near the age of these senior citizens, but I know that life is short and fleeting. I still remember, vividly, how I filled with dread at my dream doctor’s diagnosis.

But I take a deep breath and remember that my lungs are working. I am not weak. I am still able to overcome obstacles and prove people wrong. In fact I excel at it. I am trying to look past the disappointment and think about movies, hand holding and maybe a sweet treat at the gelato place

Today, as I cut out hearts and glue them to paper, I can feel my own heart beating out the rhythm. It is strong and dependable. I am lucky and blessed. I am not one of the characters in Schneider’s new novel. I don’t have to deal with TB, shortness of breath, being sent to a sanatorium or being constantly monitored or told to take it easy. I can run, jump or skip through the snow. I can be happy for what I have now, not dwell on disappointment or loss. I can break through the barriers I’ve mistakenly erected to the love that waits on the other side.

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