It is my first cancer anniversary, or canciversary. I can’t really say which particular day was THE day, whether it was when I first heard the word cancer attached to me, or whether it was one of the days that made it clear just how widespread it was. All of these days were packed into a few weeks a year ago. In any case, these anniversaries make many of us cancer folk reflect with a lot of mixed emotions.
It is hard to describe how one’s perspective shifts with the cancer call. Some of us (hand raised) might have rehearsed catastrophe a time or two or a thousand, running disaster preparedness drills as if that even remotely prepares you when one arrives. It just wastes time, trust me. If the call comes, it will be brutal. There is no need to borrow trouble ahead of time.
It is as if I was walking along my path, heading towards the next right thing, and the long view after that. The soundtrack of my life is playing. The phone rings, and in an instant, the needle scratches across the life soundtrack record, and my path veers abruptly off in a completely different direction.
This is totally disorienting, and it takes time to get one’s bearings. It takes time until the new path becomes the familiar one. It takes time to be confused, to be heartbroken, to grieve the old way, all of which happens right alongside your first steps on the new path, and all of which continues.
All the pieces of the life I expected are blown up in the air, falling where they may. I’ve blown up my life before, but this time feels different. I sift through to see what I can keep, and what I must let go. The letting go will continue as the path reveals itself. Some letting go is too excruciating to even contemplate.
Other letting go is a big relief. All those projects I thought I’d do? Let em go. Living up to other’s expectations? Let em go. The pressure to figure out my niche, to make the thing happen, to achieve a result? Let em all go.
I do suddenly carry the cancer card, which provides one of the best excuses I’ll ever have to say NO. As I see it, if I have to have cancer, I get to play the card when necessary. Call it a cancer perk. There is still humor among the broken pieces.
Right smack dab smashed up against all of the heartache, there is beauty. Maybe it is like Fall and Spring happening at the exact same time, the falling away side by side with the new growth.
Cancer cut like a laser clean through to essence, exposing the beauty of my very ordinary life which I approach with new reverence. There is the embodied life of the senses, the exquisite natural world, the pleasure of the day-to-day activities of living, the creative impulse, music, art, and the human connections especially to my beloveds which are the most beautiful of all.
There is the life of the spirit and brief moments when I feel like my heart sees through the thin places in the veil, and I am comforted by what I see. The poet Andrea Gibson writes about each of us being cells in the body of the Universe, and I feel the beauty of this connection to All That Is. It is visceral and it is beyond words for now.
What have I learned this first year?
Love on your people.
Let them love on you.
Pay attention to beauty
Notice, notice, notice.
This is it.
Life is hard and life is beautiful. I try to let the beauty carry me. That’s my hymn.
Where do you find beauty in the ordinary? What carries you? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Thanks for being here. Please share this post with folks who might be interested.
Lots of love,
Song of the week is “This Loving Light of Mine” by Van Morrison. It’s a reworking of “This Little Light of Mine” and I wonder why I never thought of this before because it’s just right.
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Thank you, Maija. I love reading your posts, hearing your voice and looking at the photos. And getting a glimpse into your world, your thoughts, your heart and your process. I love your process of letting go and making room for what's really relevant and important. Thank you! Love you!
THIS IS IT! has been my mantra since Kenny Loggins wrote the his song in the 80's. I was touched to see it in your post and had to pull it up and listen to it again. It is such a wonderful reminder to stop doing what you don't love, being with people you don't love and to see every day with joy, excitement and enthusiasm. If I haven't told you before I will do so now. You are a bright light and gift in my life. Love you!!! Sparky