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I sucked in every molecule of air in the room when my dad’s doctor confirmed it was prostate cancer.  After weeks of testing, we finally had the clarity that comes with results. Despite anticipating this would be the news, the tears streamed down my face. My dad had been through enough in the last seven months by going through two hematoma surgeries on his brain – didn’t he get a pass for this add-on?

In the weeks that followed, I took detailed notes and read the summaries for multiple doctor appointments, my mom supported my dad with everything from his meals to his moods, and my dad did absolutely everything that was asked of him by his newly expanded medical team.  Last week, after months filled with daily worries and what-ifs, we got the news that he was in remission. Remission. I didn’t know how much I could love a word until Dr. Bud Pierce said it.

As anyone who has heard this word uttered in relation to their own or a loved one’s cancer diagnosis the sheer relief and joy cannot be confined to even the best descriptive words.  Remission is the release of fear, grief, sadness, anxiety, and anger.  It provides an automatic mind shift to the more optimistic feelings of elation, happiness, freedom, delight, and peace. Renewal feels possible and within reach.

After my divorce, I experienced my own feelings of remission. The moments that come with the knowing that the hardest parts of this tribulation are over, and this specific “hardness” will not be lived again.  Post-divorce remission starts in small ways and progressively builds with each new act of independence and ownership over a different way of living.

I recall experiencing these remission-like feelings when I snowblowed my ridiculously long driveway the first time, post-divorce – a task that had always been my former spouse’s. This tiny moment engulfed me with pure delight in the realizing that I was capable of doing things on my own. Or when I took my girls on our first vacation – just the three of us – and we were truly happy and no longer under what had felt like the shadow of now being a divorced family. I experienced the remission-like power of being reinvented.

Releasing the fear and grief in favor of peace and delight is a natural trajectory of time healing those divorce-made hurts. When in the depths of hurt, confusion, and sadness, the hope toward remission can feel so remote and unattainable that we forget it exists on the horizon. But it does and I want to whisper it in the ear of all the people I meet with in my office.  Unlike a cancer diagnosis, with divorce there is the hope of guaranteed remission after divorce.  The time it will take and what it will look like is as varied and unpredictable as how marriages come together in the first place, but it will come. And with your personal remission will also come the glory and gift of a redefined life designed by your own terms.

Angela Dunne