For the better part of the year, she lay in a hospital bed fighting cancer. Few people came to visit Nadine and even fewer called, so she sat alone with nothing but television and the hum of fluorescent lights to keep her company. At home, her husband, a military officer, worked an aggressive schedule hampered by, well, military life -- extra hours and the personal sacrifice needed to keep military units moving. In between, military temporary duty assignments would pull him away from home, Nadine's hand and their two sons, aged 3 and 5. Eventually, Dad's home life got more steady and he marched into the washing, teaching and hugging chores at night and everywhere else where Nadine could not.
Some days, Nadine's Facebook status updates reflected her struggles: "...feel like a huge, huge truck ran over me today....need a nap, or two......" Somewhere in between, her husband's stepfather died and Nadine had knee surgery, but even in the toughest times, her Facebook status updates reflected what was most positive about her fight: "Life is good, even when things are really, really hard..." and "..it's hitting me pretty bad this time...oh well, like I always say...could be worse..." and "...another rough day, but I'll keep going ...."
While Nadine fought her own battle with cancer, her sons endured similar hardships. Nadine's youngest son fought a condition that threatened to damage his spinal cord. He struggled through pain, MRIs and other medical tests. Meanwhile her oldest son's best friend, just 4, fought a similar battle with cancer -- and lost. He struggled through radiation and chemotherapy. At one point, they thought the boy was cancer free, but died this month.
Fortunately for Nadine and her family, the end of the year was better than the beginning. She fought her way out of the hospital, her cancer in remission and got to see her oldest son dress as a pilgrim during a Thanksgiving school play. She makes the 20-minute drive to school to see him off to school each morning. She's become a voracious runner and an even greater advocate of living her life.
Nadine (not her real name) is by no means, out of the woods. But she is alive, happy and has put 2010 behind her. For those who've given up on New Year's resolutions because they didn't have the "strength" or willpower to lose weight, write more, cut down on sweets or trim television viewing, take a moment and think about how many resolutions Nadine and those close to her might have lost if she hadn't had the strength to stay alive.
Thankfully, her 2011 will be better for it.
Jason Tudor is an American writer and illustrator who lives in Bavaria. More of his writing can be found at his website.