My future is a winding path
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. No, really it is! Cancer, illness, and chemo are behind me. My future is a winding path. I know there will be more twists and turns and even great fallen logs that I will have to climb carefully. But this is my path, and I am so grateful and excited to walk it.
More than a year ago — before I found the lump — I was lying on the carpet in my office. It is the only room in our house with carpeting, and sometime I just have to luxuriate on the soft grey wall-to-wall. Anyway, I think I had just finished doing yoga, and my mind was peaceful and open, when I was slapped in the face by a great and terrible thought:
“What if this is the best time of my life? What if these are my golden years? What if it never gets any better? (because we always assume it is going to get better, don’t we?) What if this, right now, is the best my life will ever be?”
Does that sound sad? Scary? Disheartening? Unbearable? I didn’t feel any of that. I felt very clear headed. That was one possible outcome that I had never considered. But once I considered it I had to confront it. I realized you can’t count on life to get better and better. I learned a couple months later, when the doctor told me that the lump was cancer, that you can’t even count on life.
If today, this month, this year, was the best it was ever going to get, if you were never going to get a bigger house or a better job, or a smaller body or an easier kid, if these were your best years, how would you choose to live them? It made sense to me to try to make the best of them.
Sometimes, when I am feeling kind of spooky, I wonder if, on that day, some part of me knew I had cancer and was inspiring me to make the most of the time I had left. But I don’t really like to go there. I think the surgery and the chemo did its job, and I have a natural life span ahead of me.
But whether I have a short or a long time left (we really never know) and whether my life gets better or worse, it is my responsibility and my blessing to love my life. To love every morsel of it that I can, and to ashew self- inflicted stresses, those petty but often wickedly attractive dramas, like fights with my extended family or friends that could last for days (in my head), like injustices over right and wrong (as if I really had all the answers), and like my struggles to wrassle a comfortably consistent life from Nature, which is universaly not.
Yesterday, I had my last chemo treatment. In two months I will be thirty-eight. Thirty-seven was a great and terrible year. At times my path was crossed by the Shadow of Death. But even that darkness was part of my path, just like everything that came before and everything that will come. And I am just really and truly grateful to still be walking.