There is an acuity that occurs after cancer enters your life. A recognition of the richness available in every moment, which is best seized and a deep regret for every moment that has been wasted. It is as if a steel file has been run vigorously back and forth across my senses. Those same senses that were once blunted by the grind of everyday living, are re-edged, and tautly tuned. It is an orchestral awakening of which I can not sleep through.
This is both lyrically metaphorical and frustratingly actual. For sleep, does not come easy and I find the brightness of my thoughts keep rest at bay. I am not fixated upon the fear of my eventual death, though the thought of further treatments and reoccurrence do not make restful bedfellows. I do not lie awake planning my funeral. Far from it. It is simply, that the luxury of ignorance is no longer mine. The 400 thread count of my sheets do not save me from the reality that living is temporary.
Surrounded by Karri tree giants, I feel oddly connected to all that has come before me and that which will follow. It is though I was once off station, living in the static of white noise. There is a new found deep appreciation for the simple beauty of a raindrop and an indescribable aching in my core, that music will some day cease to be heard by my soul. These are the blessings that illness brings or perhaps the torture, when limited time is left to relish in the gift of life.
I am stung repeatedly by the awful truth, that the most glorious of all, the living must die. The living design, in all matter so exquisite. I can’t shake off, the intensity of my observations. The theatre of life and death, played out in the forrest, in the bush, under a moss covered stone, in the murky bed of a river and beneath the shadow side of a leaf. It is miraculous, when you can see God in all living matter. How often do we take time to do so, or in the exact moment are distracted by thoughts unrelated?
For me, post cancer, the artificial, societal construct has completely burst, and no diversions work for long. Neither the previous frenetic pace of my sole parenthood and the laser beam focus on my career or my comfortable inner life, hammocked between thoughts, protected me from cancer. I lived a life, heavily peppered with responsibility and burdened by other people’s perceptions of what I should or could achieve and I escaped into my head as often as possible to avoid the truth of my despair and dissatisfaction.
It has been suggested that I spend what remaining time I have, in the pursuit of that which resonates with my spirit. Good, solid, though somewhat predictable advice. The sensible course of action usually is. Flippantly I rattle off a list – travel, write (preferably from exotic places), love, laugh, eat, sleep soundly and have more sex. One small obstacle remains in the path of this perfectly sensible edict, that is cash to fund some of these pursuits. Cancer has been an expensive experience, but one that provides blessings, like cataract surgery.