Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Sunday evening sky.

Earlier this week as I drove to the food co-op, I was brooding about cancer and chemo and side effects and my possibly shortened life. I had Halima Bashir's memoir  Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur playing on CD. It's a gripping story, but that's all it was to me at first, a story.

Suddenly it hit me that it was real, that this woman was real and her experience was real and, in a certain and very tragic way, it was not unique.

And then it hit me that my experience is not unique either. People get cancer every day, go to chemo, shave their heads, make the best of it.

It wasn't a bad feeling. I felt no shame as I noted my self-involvement, nor bitter despair contemplating all the suffering in the world.

At the same time, I realized that comparatively, what I'm going through is not so bad.

And then I felt something inside me brighten and expand.

Rain and sleet last night and today. The world is sealed in ice.

I'm not sure I can rightly describe the shift. It reminds me of that day when J~ and I came across the car accident. I realized that I am still very much alive, very much a conduit of the pulsing electric current that is life itself. I remembered that I still have plenty to offer to this world, and plenty of pleasure to take in the process.

Back in October when I was first coming to terms with the fact that I have cancer, when my prognosis was not yet determined and the prospect of death loomed large, I shared a thought with J~. It may sound trite, but here it is: More than anything, before I die, I want to give away all the love in my heart.

Of course I will fail, I realized as I spoke. The more I express, the more love I'll feel, so I know this is a losing proposition.

But hell — as someone recently reminded me — none of us gets out of here alive.

Sometimes success is not the point.

No holding back.

My brother's kitten, named after my surgeon.

Millie and my neighbor.


Kerry said...

Again...tears when I read your words...success is overrated (as someone said)...feeling some of your love right now...and take some back for yourself my friend.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered/questioned why people who had cancer said it was a "gift." I think your post in one sense answers this question. You stop holding back. I think it's great you had this epiphany but I also think you should feel plenty free to feel sad and challenged at times too--both are very real.

Grammie said...

What a beautifully, inspiring post!

I just returned from the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in Florida and they set a record for the largest amount of SURVIVORS to ever participate.
People ARE surviving cancer.

Please keep your wonderful attitude.

Sending healing hugs your way!

kelly p said...

You have to be one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Your blog reminds me of what is really important in life on a daily basis.

njuen said...

such an amazing post by a deeply gifted woman, amy. i have printed it out and put it in my yoga teaching journal, the message that reaches me is vulnerability and the courage to live in vulnerability and experience the creativity, gratitude and joy it holds. it seems to me that is the space of living and giving fully with your heart. i think of you every day, with love.