Thursday, December 3, 2015

Living.... On The Edge

It's the best description I can conjure up for what she's doing.

She's battled breast cancer.  Twice.  She had ugly-scar-leaving surgeries.  She is terrified by the prospect of dealing with it again.  So, she's chosen ignorance over knowledge.

She knows the disease can return.  She knows the odds are stacked against her.  She has decided not to care.

I get it.  Completely.  Without reservations or explanations, I understand what she's doing, and why.

There's something about staring death in the face, about watching someone else pass over to where ever it is that souls travel, about being with those who've died with dignity and without fear (cf. G'ma), about coming close to the precipice and then, mercifully, retreating, that changes you.  She feels it jsut the same way that I do.

We aren't scared.  We aren't particularly surprised that more crap can fall on our heads.  It won't be surprising or unsettling or unexpected, although neither of us hopes for bad news or wants bad news or needs bad news.  We are happily enjoying the fact that the sun came up this morning and we were here to see it.

If the shit is going to hit the fan, the shit is going to hit the fan.  Certainly, Christina-Taylor's mom and I didn't know that bullets would fly when we made the plan for me to take her to see Gabby the next morning.  No one lives life expecting the worst...... well, no one with whom I want to spend any time, anyway.  And that, I think is the crux of the matter.  As G'ma replied, whenever she was asked how she kept her sunny attitude amidst memory and physical failings,, "Who wants to be around a cranky old lady?"

The answer is No One, not even the cranky old lady herself.

And that, I think, is what my friend and I are confronting, head on.  She knows the consequences of another diagnosis.  She's not interested in the fixes.  Been there.  Done that.  She wants to live until she dies and that includes not worrying about what might be.  Dying doesn't frighten her; pain and worry do.

For the pain, there will be medicine.  For the worries, we're on our own.  After the therapists and the friends and the family members have gone to sleep, we are alone with ourselves.  That has to be a comfortable spot.  There has to be a neutral center where calm prevails.  Or, as she says: I have to choose to be happy.

The edge is an uncomfortable space.  Neither of us chose to inhabit it, yet here we are.  Finding someone who understands, who accepts without judgment, who agrees with the basic principles underlying what seems to the-blessedly-uninitiated as willful denial, is a gift worth savoring.

Accepting this viewpoint requires trial by fire, I think.  For those of you who are having a hard time embracing the possibility that this is more than giving up, that this is truly valuing each day and not giving in to demons, that this is refusing to allow the disease to govern the time she has on this earth, that each and every moment will be filled with things that make her smile, that there is no putting off til tomorrow.... be grateful.

Be very, very, very. grateful

1 comment:

  1. I think no matter who you are, everyone should live life this way. Worrying detracts from what's truly beautiful in life. It also robs us of time. This is something I have to tell myself all the time. I'm a worrier by nature and it's hard to not get anxious and worry about the small stuff. I try though because I owe it not only to myself, but my family and friends to not waste my time that way. I truly try to focus on the big picture, being loving and here in the moment.

    I think you and your friend have the right perspective. It's a healthier way to live. And that's the point--to live life to the fullest.

    Sending hugs,

    Megan xxx


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