A friend wrote to tell me that tonight is a blue moon. The kind of full moon that occurs twice in a month; rather than the customary once. In other words: an anomaly.

What makes this blue moon so unusual is that is also New Year’s Eve and the close of one of most trying years in the life of my family. So many things to be grateful for and yet so many reasons to wish that this year would come to a close.

My mother, Grace Elliott started saying a year ago that she wasn’t well. In her words “I think I am in trouble again.” At this point a year ago, she had already faced cancer in the eye six times over the previous 21 years and insisted that she “wasn’t well”. It was ultimately discovered after lots of testing for vague sounding complaints that she had ovarian cancer and would require some pretty hard core treatments including 6 chemotherapy sessions and surgery that would include a hysterectomy and some intensive de-bulking.

Every time there would be some new wrinkle and she would ask her surgeon/oncologist (I like to think of him as Marcus the Magician): “will this hurt?” He would always laugh and say “Are you kidding? After all that you have been through with your prior surgeries, there is nothing that could be as painful/difficult or whatever.”

I’m here to tell you that none of it has been exactly a walk in the park but also not as bad as it could have been.

We spent the better part of today in the chemo unit at Princess Margaret Hospital in chemo daycare where my Mom received her final treatment. We always do a couple of things just for fun. I always get her a Tim’s coffee with 3 milk and double sweetener, catch her up on what I’ve been doing (like Bolzano) and what’s new in skating. We silently play scratch tickets (her favourites are the crosswords) and with the winnings, I go to the gift shop and buy new ones.

Two things, aside from the blue moon, make today memorable:

The first: Grace got to ring the bell; the great big brass one by the door on the way out of the unit that signals a person’s victory in their currrent battle and hopefully their war against cancer. She rang that damn bell so hard that she pulled off the rope.

As many nurses as are around witness this for every patient and it is quite moving in its’ own way. I took pictures of them, they took pictures of us and I cried.

The second: She found a lucky penny on the way out in the waiting room. Lucky pennies have their own place in our family history, but those stories are for another day.

Wherever you are and whatever your battles, I hope that the last day of 2009 is where you get to ring your bell too.

Here’s to a great 2010!

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