So it maybe 11pm and I may end up writing gibberish but I will update you my poor blog.
Life has begun to return into a more comfy routine, akin but still different to the one before cancer. My hair is resting on my shoulders and can be sported into a tufty little pony tail. The scar across my neck has faded a little and what is left has just become me. The days have begun to occasionally slip by, as they do when you’re caught up in the wonderful lull of day to day of life, but cancer and those affected by it filter through most of my thoughts.
During my Aid Worker days I journaled about the joy and laughter I would see many Zimbabweans display in spite of what I perceived as often heartbreaking, troublesome and sometimes horrific circumstances thrown their way. I was in awe of this joy but I didn’t understand it. There was a period in Zimbabwe where I started to feel very despondent; I started to detach, feel isolated, angry and at one point, I wanted out. If the telephone lines hadn’t been down one night, I probably would’ve found my out. Using that lifeline, a fortunate set of geographic circumstances which has allowed me to be where I am today.
In the end it was the humor, tenacity and spirit of my Zimbabwean co-worker – Jameson – who pulled me out of my funk. He’d find me a stick of sugar cane to chew on, sing songs whilst we walked and have me in stitches with snippets of gossip.
I later read a book about Zimbabwe where this joy phenomenon was described by using an amphitheater as an analogy for life. In the center of the amphitheater there was a magnificent display of the beauty of life but there was also a display of ones’ inevitable death. Those closest to the center were most vulnerable to being drawn into their death but the display of joy was so vivid that the more alive and in tune to the essence of happiness you became. Those sat in the outer seats were positioned in a more comfortable distance from death, making it a much more distant reality. With that distance the performance of joy was also a little less vivid and harder to grasp in its full glory.
So in essence, the theory is that being in a position of suffering/fear also puts you in a better position to experience the beauty of life in a more intense way. I appreciate this isn’t always the way and it’s probably the late hour (or wine?!) bringing out the philosopher in me, but I can relate to this analogy having been shifted out of the comfort zone section of the amphitheater.
As such, we’ve been soaking in the joys of family over the summer (as well as the wine, gulp). I’ve found my coping mechanism is running, which makes me smile as someone at school once told me I ran like a goose. I’m afraid they may have been right but I do it in spite of that and weirdly enjoy it. I’ve also reacquainted myself with horses - the love of my childhood - and try to loose myself in riding and the lovely musky, sweet scent of a horse as often as possible (….ok, I’m putting the wine glass down).
There are occasions where I get side-blinded by the reality of the past few years or something triggers a sudden flash of fear. One of those occasions recently came out of nowhere. I am on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s LTN Committee and volunteer to speak at the odd event which I do almost by second nature. The words flow out of my mouth and despite seeing upset in the faces of those I’m talking to, I feel a slight disconnect myself. Which is quite handy as I can only handle so many tears.
Well, one day I popped into a Burlington Coat Factory, one of LTN’s largest partners. I grabbed a small item and went to pay -- if the Sales Associate asked if I wanted to donate the LLS, I got to give them an Amazon voucher. Nice! I hadn’t given it much thought and ran through distractedly. When the Sales Associate suddenly looked up into my eyes and said, “Would you like to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society today?” something about her big brown eyes looking at me opened the flood gates and out whooshed the tears. I couldn’t get my words out, blubbering “yes, I do, yes”. Then I pushed the voucher to her and in-between big old sobs, mustered up a “Thank you – I’m a blood cancer survivor” before charging out the store and trying to push the pull door.. Insult to injury, embarrassing. I heard the Sales Associate say “bless your heart” as I fumbled my way out.
I hadn’t had an emotional outburst like that since the first day I debuted my short hair and cried in-front of the anchovies at Trader Joes! Apparently I’m a public crier.
So whilst I remain happy, deeply grateful, there's still a little shock and fear lurking in me which take me aback at times. I'm still intent on appreciating all the beauty this lovely world has to offer and hopefully I can do a little good to the world in return.
I believe I have fulfilled my promise of late night gibberish and bid you goodnight!