I've gained and lost a lot over the past few years. I am fortunate that I continue to carry with me, all that I have lost. What's lost is precious and not forgotten.
My pain and suffering - such as it was – related to my cancer, was worth every moment of it. My physical pain was limited and bearable. It was the "emotional pain" of having my applecart so rudely and completely upset that was much more significant. That cart held all of my beliefs about life, faith, health, mortality and priorities. Having to reconsider and reorder all of that baggage, so completely and suddenly was breathtaking. I lost much in that exchange - mostly the appearance of a security that wasn't mine to begin with.
There is a reason that we don't live on the edge of death all the time. We keep our sanity by keeping our temporary-ness at a distance. That is the false sense of security, the necessary lie that allows us not to be petrified basket cases.
Nearly a year ago, I wrote this about that raw awareness of mortality:
The trajectory of my journey has forever changed and my tumor was a wake-up call. My challenge is to find out what that calling is and to act upon it. And yet, as time passes, I fear losing that understanding and urgency. Familiarity breeds complacency and soon that lightening in a bottle could dissipate. Working with other folks that are similarly challenged will keep me close to that edge and keep the gift of my cancer alive.
In the weeks and months after my diagnosis, emotional pain was thrust upon me. I've grown a bit accustomed to it. I don't run from it these days. The good health that God has blessed me with allows me the latitude to sit with emotional pain by choice rather than out of a need to survive. I've been practicing being present for others in need. I've found that it can be a life-affirming, rather than a debilitating act.
For me, it is the way that I've struggled to keep that lightening in bottle
Coming out of the locker room for this 2nd half of my life, I find myself more human with the appreciation of how broken and fragile I am.
A beautiful thing happened to me – my pain has made me more aware of others and their pain.
I've concluded that to insulate yourself from your pain is, in effect, to insulate yourself from other people and their lives. Hiding from your own hurts keeps you from empathizing with others. I can't say I chose to face mine, I had little choice. But it's had a pleasant unintentional consequence - the opportunity for greater communion w/others. So I'd ask you, my friends, to never shield me from what aches you or the truths I have coming to me. I think that I am ready on both counts.
It turns out that my heart has grown, its' capacity to love is greater. It's as if the void created in the space that the head of my pancreas, gall bladder and other parts that my great surgeon removed has been filled by more heart. I've found that it can do far more than I ever knew. And that's just the way that God works.
Here's to feeling more every day!