Are you surprised to hear from me after all this time? I’m still here, just living life. I haven’t posted anything for a long time, first because I’ve been busy with other stuff, and second, because I just didn’t have anything worth saying. Or a lot of stuff worth saying, but struggling with how to say it. Looking back over the last few months, I think it was just time for me to be quiet, watch and listen instead of talk. I think 'contemplation' is the right word. It’s hard to learn anything new when you never shut up.
I’ve never been into poetry before, but I have really been enjoying it lately. Andrea Gibson has become one of my favourite poets - you can find her on Instagram as well as her blog "Things that Don't Suck. She’s also walking this cancer road, so I understand what she’s writing about and feel it down to my core. Her poem 'Grief Astronomer' struck a cord & I wanted to share it:
This world needs people
Who can find a tunnel
With no light at the end of it
And hold it up like a telescope
To show that the darkness
Contains many truths
That could bring the light
To its knees.
Adjust the lens. Look close.
Tell me what you see.
... by Andrea Gibson
I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have been on this road and am overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude. I wish I could have ended up here without going through cancer, but I don't really think it's possible. Sometimes the house has to be torn to the ground before something new and beautiful can be built in its place. It sucks, but it seems to be the way things are.
One of the truths I’ve found is that there’s beauty in the darkness too. I read somewhere recently that scientists have discovered that even in the pitch-black darkness of space there are tiny particles of light called neutrinos that are invisible to the naked eye. That means we're always surrounded by light no matter how dark it feels, which is pretty cool.
Think about it: darkness forces you to slow down and look around, and you have to let go of all the stuff that you're holding onto because when you can’t see where you’re going you’re forced to feel your way along. You have to listen to what’s around you and call out for help, speak the truth so people know where you’re at, and sometimes sniff things out for yourself.
The title ‘Grief Astronomer’ resonates with me. It makes me feel proud of myself, like I’m Sandra Bullock in the movie Gravity, fighting all kinds of obstacles to be able to get back to earth and normal life again (whatever that is!). I didn't like that movie, by the way, but I like the picture.
I have been to a few places now that most of you haven’t.
I’ve grieved the life that I thought I would have and accepted the truth of my own mortality. Surprisingly, it’s not that bad of a place to be. I didn’t know where I was going for a long time, just feeling my way along and putting one foot in front of the other, but now that I’m here I’m liking the view.
I feel lighter and freer and open to possibilities like I never was before, and the world just seems more colourful.
I was thinking about that this morning and was brought back to a moment in my first trip almost four years ago. I was with my friend's son who had died and he was showing me around a beautiful park, telling me how much I was going to love it there, but every time we were almost at the crest of the hill where I'd be able to take in the full view I'd be dragged back down to earth again. It simply wasn't my time yet. But what I was able to see and feel was beautiful, warm and peaceful. It was heaven.
I think that's what I'm trying to tell you about where I'm at now. It's been a long and winding road full of ups and downs, some wins and some pretty big losses but for some reason, I'm still here, which is pretty great. Even my oncologist seems to be surprised. But after all the struggle I seem to have crossed into new territory and found a pretty peaceful, happy place to exist. The view is beautiful, but I don't think you can see it until you've gone through a few fires and you're finally hit with the realization that any control you thought you had over anything is just a mirage. When you're finally able to loosen your grip on whatever it is that you're chasing after and surrender to the flow of the universe life can be pretty good.
After all, what do I get to take with me into the next life? It's not money or 'stuff'. It's the same things that are important now - love, peace, joy, connection with other humans, nature, and with the universe, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
So there you have it. Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t want pity because I don’t need it. In fact, I kinda feel sorry for you.
If you were able to sit here on this hilltop with me you’d see it too.