June 28th 2018
As I move through the weeks and months leading me away from the configuration of the life that has been mine, more or less, for almost forty years, here are some of the things I’m learning:
To give to the future the weight of NOW is to be lost over and over.
Now, a week away from leaving daily life with my husband in this house that has been ours for decades, I find myself looking back at the years that brought us here. Were we meant to arrive at this point inevitably? If so, is this cause for sadness?
No, that would be wrong. Ours is a long and winding narrative that, gathered up in my memory and in my very bones, is a whole universe. By some strange miracle of quantum mechanics perhaps, each and every decision we made, separately and together, each and every action and reaction, brought us to now.
If you believe in fate, then I am, we are, where we were meant to be; and if you don’t, then it was all so much bigger and incalculable than we are—my husband, my children and every human network sprouting from us or connected to us—that we were only ever meant to do our best and keep moving forward.
When I turn my gaze toward the days to come, I’m more aware now than I’ve ever been that any future I project myself into—in a new house, with a new version of my family, with new traditions and patterns, in a new town—is not my future, but rather a cinematic narrative fashioned in my mind, my predictive brain doing what it does best: imagining what might be in the simplest, most familiar images.
Most of me lives for this imminent future—the island of a life that’s there for me if I can only reach it— but a smaller, hardened part still grapples with the reality of it. In seven days, I shall have left my house on Laurelwood. So much has happened to bring me to the brink of this new life and yet, so much stands before me, casting shadow, that even this small patch of future still feels unreal.
Illness clears the road.
What’s real is my illness. It’s now.
And the network of people—family, friends, all my loved ones, who are here, now.
Their presence has been a constant in my life, not subject to hours and seasons in the way that most things are.
Their love thrums steadily and more and more loudly these days.
I’m so grateful to them for it.
In a message to a friend the other day, I likened the feeling of connection their love creates to the network of roots that link the trees, hidden away underground, hundreds, thousands of ramifications that bind them, allowing them to communicate and to nurture each other.
Illness clears the calendar of imagined, possible things. What’s left is the inevitability of medical appointments and treatments…and spaces in between. There’s no need, yet, to try to fill those spaces.
For now, I fill boxes and clear rooms. I staged my house for sale, and now I wait for my cancer to be staged. Who could have predicted it?