For all of my battles, I never really thought much about losing any of them. There was too much adrenaline, I guess. Too much information to absorb and action to take.
There comes a point though, were the information slows down. The action slows down. I know this because I’ve watched people I care about, people I love, fight this disease and die. As some point, if the cancer is not vanquished, it will take over and it will kill you.
That is a messy load of bullshit, if you ask me. I don’t yet understand how that happens. I don’t understand how children, tiny people with luminescent skin and twinkling eyes and endless energy can get sick in such a dramatic, life defeating way. I honestly cannot comprehend it. And yet, I know Adeline, I know Jason, I know Cade, I knew Abigail.
I don’t understand how young adults- men and women with the rest of their lives at their fingertips- are halted inches short from the unfolding stories of their lives. It is as if they tumble off the edge of a soaring cliff as they reach to make contact with their brilliant, beautiful futures. I can’t make sense of it. And yet, I knew Katie, and Danielle, and Paige, and Matt.
I don’t want to focus on what I don’t know. The symptoms I’m suffering under may be next to nothing. On the flip side they could start the clock on the expiration of my life. Either way, it’s too soon to tumble down the rabbit hole.
It is painfully difficult to wait…and wait…and then wait some more. All the while I try fruitlessly to read the tea leaves of missed phone calls and tones of voice in nurses messages and decipher Latin coded medical reports. The unknown is rich dirt for anxiety. It takes root and burrows deep into the recesses of my mind. Once again I find myself chanting, “You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine.” But as time goes along, I have fewer pieces of evidence to anchor that rally cry and fear starts to bubble up in its place.
Yet, there is something more interesting than the crazy carousel of medical meltdowns. There is something more permanent than death:
The Legacy of Life.
The first thought I had when I sat up from my ultrasound a few days ago was this:
What have I done?
My life slowly developed before me in my mind. Like Polaroid pictures, images of memories come to me slowly, frame by frame. I have had a good life, I know. But what have I done? Am I the person I dreamed I could be? Have I given enough love, made enough of an impact to be satisfied with this life?
The answer is, no. I haven’t. I am not afraid nor ashamed to admit that I have carried higher goals for my life. Whether it is lack of time or effort or focus or bravery, I haven’t created the love and kindness and hope I had wanted. When I thought I had the rest of a long life ahead of me, the vision of these dreams was faded and distant. I would get there someday, I reasoned.
My recent health scare has upset that procrastination peppered comfort. I could be okay with any end provided I had created a life that would outlive my death. But the thought of it now gives me an urgent feeling panic. I want to create so many beautiful and loving things in this life. I want to burst- showering friends and family and strangers with the peace and courage to find the power of love in their own lives.
Now, just shy of 35, it is time to start stepping toward that dream. It is time to be clear and intentional about the legacy I want to create in my life- whether I am hit by a bus tomorrow or slip away in my sleep in another 90 years.
As scary as this all is, as uncomfortable and anxious as it has made me, I am so grateful for the lesson it has revealed. No one will make this life for me. Brilliance does not happen by accident. It is created through action. It is not a world of which I am familiar, but I believe I can find my way.
I will start here by telling you this: You have made all the difference. Once again, you have all stepped in to save me, to remind me of the incredible love in this world. It has been, and will always remain, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
GIVE ‘EM HELL
2 Comments Add yours
Hello love. In the past 3 months, I’ve been wallowing in self pity, and have been disconnected from friends and family. My mom died (she was 78 and suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, so that’s actually a blessing), my daughter has been in and out of the ER with thoughts of self harm (she’s 15 and these thoughts seem to be directly related to incidents wherein I have to take her phone away and ground her from seeing friends and boys because she’s being an ass, but it still sucks to see your kid in a hospital bed talking to CRT), my ex is in full Man Baby Mode (which should not surprise me, since he has never exited said mode). So I’m slumped in a chair this morning, eating potato chips, and agonizing over my shitty life. Then I read your blog. I’m ashamed of myself. My challenges are akin to those tiny little riffles in the road that turn your ankle a bit when you’re running and make you huff in annoyance. Your challenges are mountainous, but yet you keep on climbing. Your strength and determination are humbling. Just so you know, you have already done for this friend what you seek to accomplish in your own life. You have spread joy. You have given me a big fat slap of perspective right across my face. You have forced me to get off of the couch, put down the frigging bag of baked lard, and strap my running shoes on again. Tiny little bumps in the pavement are not mountains. If you can keep on climbing, I can sure as hell deal with my own stuff, get off my ass, re-engage with life, and still have enough left my tank to support you. I love you. I’m praying that you only have bone spurs and that I’ll have the opportunity to make fun of you for being an old lady. You ask “What have you done? ” You’ve done more than most of us. You strive to keep doing. In that alone you have already reached your goal. Now I have to stop typing, actually get up, and go for a run. Screw you Katie. I hate being inspired.
Reading about your joy always confuses me and leaves me in awe. The part of me that wonders about myself if we switched places lies trampled under the muck you cast off with a head shake. The universe could pave your life with endless rainbows and never make up for what is behind you . . . You are fierce. There is no other word I have come across to describe a heart that experiences such pain and still teaches and protects while it heals. You breathe under water with the ease that the rest of us drink coffee. Now I pray that this passes as unbelievably mundane, that excitement for you is confined to zoo trips, concerts, and newly discovered waterfalls on hikes with your love. Tell someone you love to give you a hug from me – my hugs do not include back patting, talking, or letting go . . . tears of all kinds are acceptable ❤