Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around.” ~Anna Quindlen
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my life over that past few months. I’ve had moments of extreme sadness and extreme joy. I’ve had moments of disbelief and moments that capture the essence of what it means to truly live. I’ve had experiences so visceral that nothing could possibly remind me that I am alive more than during that moment.
At the end of my second chemo treatment, when I thought I was in the depths of hell and nothing but time could heal my hurt, I was sitting on my acupuncturist’s table and I had a moment of clarity and possibly surrender. As needles were sticking out of my body, I felt myself sink into the table. I was totally relaxed and at peace. As I concentrated on my breathing and how my body felt, tears started to stream down my face. It was only then that I realized the magnitude of what it feels like to have your body run amuck and you have no control over it. I have been making so many decisions that could really determine whether I will live or die. And I got so angry. I don’t want to make these decisions. At that moment, I found comfort in the fact that it would be so easy to just not make any decisions at all. I mean, what if I just decided not to do anything anymore? What a relief it would be to hand my life over to someone or something else. As I searched my mind for a way to completely surrender, my acupuncturist came in and handed me a kleenex. She started to remove the needles and I said, “Sometimes being alone with only silence and your thoughts is the hardest.” I got off the table and suddenly, I felt reborn. My pain was gone.
Maybe it was the acupuncture, or maybe it was my moment of realization, but after I left that day, I decided that making decisions is the best part of life. Sure, it would be easier to give up control, but I have never been one for the easy route. I may not have control over my body, but I do have control over my mind.
It sounds cliche to say that hearing that you have a disease that could kill you can transform your life, but it’s true. Nothing has ever been more true than that I think. Nothing can ever make you re-evalute your priorities more than realizing that you don’t have forever. It’s funny now to think that I once thought that I did. Here are my priorities:
1. Heal my body. 2. Nurture relationships that foster positive growth. 3. Tell my friends and family that I love them every day. 4. Appreciate life’s little pleasures. 5. Finish my education so I can live for something bigger than myself.
Thanks for reading.
“And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.”