Finally, I did it. I finally wrote something for Tedx that I believe in and that I can live with.
I have been fighting this talk for months. More or less, I have been fighting my way through coming to terms with the past year and understanding what suffering and pain and beauty and love mean in my life. I have been through moments of sheer disbelief, cursing and swearing that this diagnosis didn’t have a purpose. That it was just out to ruin me and the things I was trying to accomplish. I had moments of anger, screaming in my car to the sky, “What do you want from me!?“. I picked a fight with God and the Universe.
“Why is it never enough? WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
I felt I had failed. I was so angry with myself for dropping the torch of faith and hope. I was so unkind and unforgiving with myself. I was hit with a wave of reality after I tried to sail in for a smooth landing after treatment ended. The disease was fading out but the burden of the life I had left behind (running a business, being a wife and a mother) -it was catching up to me. There was no rest for the weary. I had to get back into my own life and fight again to reclaim my space in this life.
I was so sick of fighting. I was so sick of scraping for every inch. I was mad and I was over every insult and hurdle thrown at me by bad timing and worse luck. I was mad that I was human, that I was feeling these things at all. These things that made me feel weak and out of control and sorry for myself. I hated it and I turned that hate in on myself. I raged inside. I thought about what cancer had taken from me, how it had hurt the people I loved. I fell apart- impoloding on anger and sadness over things I could not control and that wounded me deeply.
Slowly, more slowly than I liked, I began to soften. I’m still angry at cancer, but I’m no longer willing to hand over my life, my freedom, my happiness to it. I am no longer angry at myself for hurting. I lived through hell. I made mistakes. I also witnessed beautiful things. Incredible, life-changing, soul affirming things. I have learned and grown as a person. I have given and received more love than I thought possible in a lifetime. I chose to extend love to myself instead of punishing myself with hate. I chose to be patient and kind and to magnify the love that has been so generously and freely given to me and to share it with the world.
I know. I know that sounds like an overly sentimental, idealistic, naive, placating statement. But it’s not.
To live is a choice. To love is a choice.
Growing and learning and connecting are choices. I don’t make the choice to extend my hand and my heart to anyone lightly. I make it because it means intentional, meaningful living for me. I believe in wonderful, beautiful, absurd notions of love because that is what has been demonstrated and extended to me for the last year. That is what saved me. That is what created a life worth living and I’m embracing it and moving forward.
You can write me off as foolish and naive or you can challenge yourself to question what you are made of. What, if not love and kindness, has made you resilient? What has helped you survive? What is it that you wake up searching for? What has it felt like to share a piece of your heart with someone? You cannot convince me that this is not a worthy enterprise. All that is good and meaningful in my life has been rooted in love. It is more powerful than any disease, or worry, or doubt, or fear. I believe in love and in our ability to connect and heal one another. Call me crazy if you like, but I just walked through the darkness and I’m still here. Better than ever. What else can grow in such a barren plain?
So I’m stepping forward with love and hope on my mind. Love is laced on the words that flow from my mouth. The enormous power, the unyeilding presence of this beautiful gift is ingrained in my heart and my soul. I am a love warrior. A fighter for all things true and necessary and kind. I hope I can share that with those who need it and I hope to continue to receive it as the restorative, fruitful gift that it is.
Be well, love fiercely, and Give ‘Em Hell.