I have been considering writing this next installment of my series “The Tale of Us Against The Monster” since Christmas, but I have been unable to gather my thoughts until lately. For me, I need peace and quiet, and time to get to my computer to write. This past holiday was a riot of movement and action and people and places. Allow me to explain:
My husband and I waited too long—because we were worried about ‘if’ the Monster attacked—to buy airline tickets, and when we finally booked, we had to take what was left. We travelled with our fur person, so that limited our choices further, and we ended up taking a flight with a connection we didn’t like, flights that departed either too early or arrived too late, and a return time that forced us to extend our holiday by several days. It left us feeling that we had over-stayed our welcome. Now, I know that last part isn’t true at all. My sister is my friend, an excellent hostess, and she had prepared a lovely guest room for us, but I think that my husband and I began to pine for our own space and familiar pillows. We got homesick. And…the temperature hit a record low. The thermometer dropped to -40! So we were all stuck inside, running out of things to do, and finally not doing much much more than staring at each other. (Well, not really…)
It didn’t help matters that on the second day there, I got sick as a dog! I spent my entire holiday hacking and snorting and sneezing and stuffed and plugged. Ugh. Bring on the Buckley’s, ewww!! And of course I was worried that I would pass this vile plague on to my husband. He never got it. I’d had a cold like that the last time we took a long holiday to Florida to visit his sister. My hubby never caught that one either. It seems like there might be a pattern there, I dunno. Lol.
For this holiday, my hubby was either in pain or exhausted from being in pain for almost the entire time. The trip there wiped him out, and sent him to bed for two days. And it went like that off and on for the entire two and a half weeks we were there. Just un-fun. Poor guy. I know I got impatient with him because, well, Christmas!! “Why can’t I drag a smile from you!! Do you even want to be here??” And the truthful answer was “No.” He didn’t want to be anywhere but at home. Then I felt guilty, selfish, and regretful for my impatience because I had forgotten my empathy somewhere in all the madness. Plus I was sick and feeling rather sorry for myself. Then I reminded myself that my mission now is to adapt my focus as he progresses in his battle with the Monster.
It’s hard to change all the time though. To change how we think of life every few moments. To dial plans, hopes, and lifestyle back, so to speak…to evolve on a downward slope. What was okay last month is not okay anymore and now we must compensate again, and again, and again. You who have met the Monster know what I mean all too well. I know your frustration. You’re not alone. Sometimes you feel like you didn’t sign up for this, right? Ya, me too. But we did, you know. That whole niggly, bothersome “in sickness and in health” thing, and even if some of us didn’t take that particular vow at the onset, it’s kinda implicit anyway…even if the one in question is a parent or a sibling or a best friend. That’s because we love them. And that’s the price of love.
So, needless to say, Christmas seemed like a bit of a bust for us, but there were moments that shone, and I realize now, thinking back, that such moments are what I need to look for, and just forget the rest…let it go. Life is short. I know that sounds cliché, and it is, but it’s a cliché only because it’s always true. I remember a splendid Christmas dinner and watching old movies as a family. I remember feeling unrushed and relaxed—everything had been taken care of ahead of time. Lots of food and wine and laughter. Also we saw the new Star Wars with my nephew, so I guess not a bust after all.
As for New Year’s resolutions, my husband and I really made only one: to live as fully as we can for as long as we can. And that brings me to the present. I suppose I have been trying to get my mind around the idea of “living fully” because my idea before of living fully differs extraordinarily to how I consider it nowadays. What is a full life anyways?? That’s what’s taken me so long to come to terms with these past few weeks.
When we got home, unpacked, and sighed with the satisfaction of being once again reunited with our own pillows (cuz pillows are important), my son and his wife came over to bring us belated Christmas gifts. I put on the coffee, and we shared a lovely afternoon together. For Christmas, they gave us a certificate stating that they had a star named after us. Yes, they gave us our very own Christmas star officially and for all time named “Peter and Linda.” Our kids wanted to give us something that would “last forever.” That idea moved us all to tears.
Of course, as soon as I could, I got on Google to investigate our own personal star shining down on us from the heavens. Then I learned the truth about the star they named for us… In fact, our star will not live forever. It has exhausted its core hydrogen and has become a supergiant. Our star is dying. But now, as a supergiant, it burns hotter and brighter than ever it did in its 11 million year lifetime. And it will continue like this until it depletes its fuel and goes supernova. Thus, at the end of its life, it will live more fully than ever before. Of course it will outlive both my husband and I, but it bears witness to the eventual mortality of all things in the universe…both small and big…and in the meantime, while life remains, to live larger and louder than ever before.
And here’s the thing with living fully…life can be grand even if grand looks small from someone else’s perspective, because that’s who we were before the Monster invaded us…we were other people—not at all who we are now.
You who battle the Monster, a full life is a life that sates your hunger. Color your own picture! You don’t have to have enormous items on your bucket list. A full life comes to us in moments, hours, days, and weeks. Sometimes our hunger is sated by a lazy afternoon spent on a jigsaw puzzle with a friend, or skiing down a hill, or eating a delicious meal. Sometimes it just takes a hug or a kiss. My wish for you is that you—in whatever way is possible for you—will burn fiercely, that you will brighten the sky, that you will live so that you use up every ounce of fuel in your reserve, and finally, that you will go out in an explosion of light. Be a star…the Monster can’t compete with that. Happy belated New Year!
#living with cancer