Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Me and My Shadow

A shadow has passed over me lately, blocking my sun.  That shadow has a name that we all dread to hear--cancer.  This shadow isn't necessarily the shadow of death per se, but the presence of my own mortality coming to the forefront, becoming a real possibility.  Most of us put our own mortality into a deep pocket inside our minds that we sometimes dare to open in rare moments of introspection, but most of the time, to most of us, time is boundless and, sadly, for most of us, true happiness is just out of reach, but always a possibility, to be achieved in the future, sometime.

When we are faced with our own mortality, happiness is something that we need to reach out and grab immediately.  There is no time to wait and hope anymore.  All those trivial things in life fall away.  Even when observing everyone else going about their lives as usual, we stand by in disbelief about the truly petty concerns of others, like those unwanted wrinkles or those last stubborn five pounds.  Within this passing shadow, a strong, clear light begins to shine on our lives-clarifying things, brightening things, exposing the truth behind all the fiction and unimportant concerns.  My shadow has given me a sense of peace, a need for serenity.  I appreciate things so much more now.  I truly cherish my family and friends and love their unwavering presence at this time when I need them the most.  I think twice before getting angry or annoyed now, or sinking into a state of passivity.  The passionate, forward-moving side of me has been activated.  Even writing now seems senseless, but of course only superficially, when there is so much more I could be accomplishing out in the world, people out there who need my help or guidance in some way.  I now want to reach out and touch as many as I can.

I sometimes wonder if my cancer is just a side effect of my passivity-my inability to take action, to pay attention to my own power, my God-given potential and spirit, the power within my own body to be the best that I can be.  To be honest, my own insecurities and anxieties have held me back in a way, so my life at home has become my safe haven away from potential hurt or fear.  But, nice as it is to be at home away from the hustle and bustle of life, it has only given me the opportunity to hide within a shell of my own making.  I've always believed I was merely simplifying life by leaving it to take care of my family, but my family really doesn't need that much care.  My family needs ME--my presence, my energy, my potential, my strength, not my availability.  It is time for me to move forward, get out into the big world, start breathing again.  My cancer has woken me up from my reverie, enabling me to live a life of my dreams.  Anything is possible now.

When I first found out that I have cancer, I thought, "Why me?".  Now I see it as "Why not me?".  I am human after all.  And for someone who has never quite fit in, I now feel more a part of the human experience of striving and rising to our fullest potential.  Life isn't about our own death.  Let's face it.  We don't get to witness the aftermath.  Life is about what we do with our lives while we are here, right up until that last moment when we finally have to leave.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Re-Posting of Some Poems from October

I've been a little scared to write lately.  And you'll see why when I re-post these poems written at the end of October, before I had any clue I had cancer.  What it all means, I'm not sure, but this isn't the first time this has happened to me, both in my writing and in dreams that have turned out to be prophetic in someway.  This first poem is called "Tell Me".  Perhaps I was asking to be told about this cancer?  Well, if I was, my prayers were answered..

Tell me that I can stay,
A little longer.
A life formed out of bits of thread and spilled blood
Is just a moment, a flash.
My creative clutter the only proof that I breathe.

Flesh plundered, compromised, sight unseen,
By one bad seed waiting,
For that slim circumstance
To strike and grow in a moment,
Interrupting a long-awaited dream.
We never know until we know,
We are not a given, even if we are forgiven.

I’d love to speak to that cell,
Lone invader of my own universe,
Travel the rivers and canyons of this divide,
Confront him and my swept-up fear.
To understand what he’s after,
Stealing my breath in order to live,
And perish with me.

I'd love to debrief that cell,
Make him squirm,
Will he have one noble reason?
Will I even comprehend why,
He means to use my body as his own,
Home Sweet Home,
For a little while?

I’d love to speak to that cell,
To tell him that I will stay, 
And he will go,

It’s not up to him.


On Awareness: A Plea

Does tomorrow melt in your mouth,
Not in your hands,
Like Desire pulling you along by a taut, silken harness,
Only to nestle and caress you within the jaws of the famished world?

Do you tell your Prince to wake you later,
As you languishly linger within the folds
Of a sleep, unblemished by potion?
But, sooner than later, you will need those eyes open wide,
That breath strong and able,
Expanding and contracting for life.

Do you gaze across an open, fertile landscape,
Only to while away in longing,
For that noble Youth,
When all bitter Beauty has is these petals in her void?
All the while, the leaves rustle amongst us, calling out for Winter,
Awaiting to hear his step on the porch boards.

Do your dreams recall a listless longing,
Lying limp and open on the forest floor,
White flood rising from your cool gown,
A sad stream echoing your delirious sleep?
A cold wind blows, suddenly,
harsh and heavy upon your parched skin.

Shivering with eyes aflutter,
You think,
Perhaps, there is another way,
To conceive of this future,
Without falling through the cracks and chasms,
Of a life lived by another.

As you grasp the reins,
You navigate your way,
Slowly, ever so slowly,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Latest News: The Good and the Bad

So, which do you want first?  Good news or bad news?  Well, I always like to concentrate on the good, so I will start with that.  I have been accepted into graduate school at the University of Buffalo.  Yaaay!  It has been something I have been working on for at least the last couple of years, and the effort finally paid off.  I am not starting this spring as planned, though.  I am pushing it back to the Fall due to my "bad news".

I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Yes, breast cancer at the age of 42.  I have gotten over the shock of it all after three weeks or so of ruminating about it.  I count myself as VERY lucky.  They caught it on a routine mammogram with no symptoms and, although I won't know for sure until my lumpectomy, it is most probably Stage 0.  In other words, it looks as though it is still confined and not spreading anywhere.  They used to consider this a pre-cancerous tumor, but they have changed their approach and are now calling this cancer.  I will either need radiation or a mastectomy.  I am definitely feeling better about it all, thus I am now able to write about it.  I will be having surgery next week and will know more then.  I figured I needed to get this off my chest and explain to all my followers why I have been very absent lately.  I was on a roll with my writing too!  Oh well, sometimes life throws us curve balls and we just have to adapt and change accordingly.

I have a very important message to all of you out there.  If you are a woman, get your mammograms as soon as you are able because they need to find the cancer BEFORE symptoms appear.  That means every year after 40, or before 40 if you have cancer in your family.  To the men, if you have a lady in your life, urge her to keep up with her mammograms as well.  I am so thankful that I started mine at 39 and have been up on them every year.  They found it as soon as they could.  Please don't listen to the insurance companies' recommendations of starting after 50!  They have ulterior motives.  And, by the way, there is no breast cancer in my family, I am pretty darn healthy (never smoked and drink only occasionally), eat mostly organic and try to live as healthfully as possible.

So, now that I have that off my chest, I want you all to know that I am still here, working diligently on my diet and exercise routine, and plan to be a better person when all is said and done.  Sometimes it takes a scare to force a person out of complaisance, and I see my cancer as a warning.  I do know that what I have been doing with my blog is the right thing and I wish to continue in the future.  I am also excited about returning to school and continuing my research on Austen, Gaskell, and Forster and the relationship of their writing to the architecture and decor of the time.  If you don't see me much over the next few weeks, it's because I am busy with my health, but, count on it, I will return.