Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19

I woke up at 3:17 this morning. Why I woke up, I am not sure. ... Maybe I tried to roll over. Maybe it was just a natural stirring. Maybe there was a dog barking. I don't know. I have no memory of what woke me up in the first place. But I can tell you, for certain, why I have been unable to fall back asleep.

The conference workshops are tomorrow. I get to speak tomorrow. ... And I'm so flipping excited that I can hardly stand myself.

Also, I'm oddly hungry for it being the middle of the night.

But beyond the hunger, I am awake because my mind is literally racing with things I want to say tomorrow. Last night, I got my yellow pad of paper out and started making some actual notes (yeah, 36 hours before speaking - when I've had almost two months to prepare - this is how I roll), and I have been swimming in memories all night long. As I made a timeline of important events in the last two+ years, I have been so grateful that I have written so much of it down. I'm so grateful that I have a written record of what has happened, how I have felt, what my body has been through...

I had forgotten, until I read it last night, that I couldn't eat grapes when I was doing radiation. They made me violently ill. The only fruit/vegetable I could keep in me while I was doing treatments were carrots, and I could eat four baby carrots a day. Any more than four, and I would be sick, but I could eat four of them. They were the only "sweet" thing I ate for almost two months. ... I can't believe I'd forgotten that.

As I read what I had written in the summer of 2010, I was amazed at the visceral memories that came back to me. I have had to relearn to walk three times now, but it has never been as difficult to find my balance as it was after that first surgery. There are still tasks that are hard on my weak little body, but opening my silverware drawer doesn't make me wince anymore.

In the spring of 2011, I was so hopeful that Tumor #2 would be the end of the Cancer Madness. I remember the day that Dr. W told me I would probably have to do chemo. ... I also remember the day that he told me that I wouldn't have to do it, and why; that day was a game changer.

This time last year, my life was shifting in a big way and I took that for a sign that my health issues were behind me, and I was off to a brighter, healthier (and less medically expensive) future.

And thus we see why we are told not to be sign seekers.

On New Year's Eve of 2010, I wrote that I had known more love that year than I had ever known before. I wrote, for the first time, about what I like to call the George Bailey Effect, and how amazed I had been, and how grateful I was, for the dozens of people who had come out of the woodwork to let me know they remembered me, and cared about what was happening in my life.

Those dozens of people in 2010 have multiplied and morphed into hundreds of people in 2012. I have been astonished at the number of people who have reached out to me. Many of them are friends from my past, some of them are the friends of my friends, and a few have been perfect strangers who found my blog through a search, and then took the time and spent the energy to find me in real life.

What I have learned is this: Life is - love is - cumulative.

The relationships that I spent years cultivating have blessed my life in ways that I never dreamed they would, in ways that I could not have imagined I would need them to. Friends from my childhood and young adult years have come back to me. Both my immediate and extended family have been there for me, physically emotionally and spiritually. The love I have sent out into the world has come back to me, tenfold.

Having had to live in this body in the last two years has taught me a lot of things: the value of high powered pain pills and stool softeners, not to take anything (or anyone) for granted, to enjoy life as much as I possibly can on every single day that I've been given. (I may or may not mention the stool softeners tomorrow. Only time will tell.)

I am so looking forward to speaking to the experience that the cancer has been. It has been difficult, sometimes horrifically so. But the payout - the life experience, the service that has been rendered and the love that I have been shown - has offset the pain and hardship. I wouldn't go so far as to say "I would do it all again", but I can say, for certain, that I am grateful for the experience, because it has changed me.