So, about living. Turns out, it feels more complicated to me than dying does. Turns out, I have endless possibility in front of me that I get to manifest. I get to live, just like you. I buckled up for the worst and over and over the universe answered, “You are going to get a miracle instead.”
I didn’t ask for miracles. I did not want to believe or invest in miracles. In fact, the warrior in me knew that I, of all people, could make it through an ugly deal. I could put on my armor, and show up to big bad monsters. I like to think I am not afraid of monsters. (As I write this, I know I am just as afraid as anyone, but I like to think...) Maybe it is the adrenaline that the fear brings that feeds a certain thrill in me, but something in me gets bold and says, “Bring it on.” I know how to fight monsters.
When I was pregnant, I remember offering to the universe—I can handle the hardest of the hard when it comes to kids—Give it to me. I had been a preschool teacher for almost a decade and I had learned to love working with kids with challenging behavior. I also learned that I had a gift with hard situations. I believed I would not be abusive to a child no matter what. I felt a call to take on the challenging so that someone else who might not have the capacity would not end up breaking a soul.
Then I got this precious baby. Most of my memories of her first seven years are of watching with amazement, wonder, awe, and love every single thing she did. It was not hard at all. The challenges of parenting her, turned out to be about me, not about her. Learning how to be in love with someone new. Never adequately learning how to give her the support she needed related to her medical diagnoses. The hardest of the hard came from inside of me. In intimate relationships, we all break each other in little (and sometimes big) ways. The way I broke my baby was in the places I did not (at the time) have the capacity to feed her needs—despite wanting so much for that to not be true.
Getting a baby and getting cancer may seem like very opposite gifts, but cancer is teaching me similar lessons. Instead of a big bad monster, cancer has mostly meant living with amazement, wonder, and awe. The challenges in living my life mostly come from me. I have not felt pushed to the brink of my capacity—but I suspect that I will learn that my brink comes from inside myself. When I was pregnant, I often thought that part of my role as a parent would surely be to screw up—how will I hurt this precious soul that I never want to hurt?! And now, in my own living-with-cancer life, I wonder the same thing, how might I get in my own way and be the cause of my own brokenness?
As much and as often as I have been saying that I am embracing life, as I write this, I realize I am still buckled in. I am still wearing my armor. When I wrote that I get to live life 'just like you,' it was the first time since cancer that I felt the expansiveness and freedom of that truth. (I know, you have all been saying it since day one, but I had to learn it myself.) Maybe my life will be just like yours. Maybe I will live longer than you. Only time will tell. But I get to live life just like you and that gives me the courage to take off my armor. Still, I feel less sure about how to step fully into living. Can I really take this risk? I want to let go and feel life without the tension of death. Let’s forget that I might be dying.
I am listening to birds chirp and feeling the wind on my arm. I feel called by nature to get out of this self centered brain thought and go out there and live. Just like you.