Today I finished my last classes at TAFE for the foreseeable future. I’ve added another couple of subjects to my list of achievements, but at the moment I am not sure that I will return to complete my diploma. The last few months, my studies have given me everything I sought from them. Engagement, a sense of purpose, a chance to socialise with my peers, have a laugh, keep my brain active, and probably most importantly of all, it’s kept me from staying home worrying about dying. Now, however, something has shifted….changed.
I’ve stopped worrying about dying.
I’ve been reading back through some of my blog posts, in order to have things fresh in my mind, to take part fully in the creative process that is going into the production of my book. I don’t need to tell you that it has been some batshit crazy year and a half. I realise I have spent most of it waiting for some sort of outcome, and hoping that the eventual outcome wouldn’t see me in a pine box. There have been several major surgeries, life threatening complications, chemo warfare, radiation poisoning, 13 months of trying to get to potentially curative surgery, the introduction of the 50% factor, a massive risk I had to take with my life in order to have one of any length. Then of course, I took that risk, only to find that my cancer was too advanced to be cured, and I had to come to terms with my terminal status. HOW.THE.FUCK.AM.I.STILL.SANE?
The months between the failed liver resection and the results of last weeks scan have by far been the darkest. Yep, even darker than those 50% days, would you believe. Even when looking that horror in the face, there was the chance, small though it was, of a very good outcome. For a while it felt like when that was gone, everything that I was, every bit of strength that I had been able to muster went with it. Oh sure, I lived, but I lived in fear, counting down the days, watching the sand fall through the hourglass, knowing that when it was all through, I wasn’t going to be able to turn the hourglass over again – that sand was my life force. Then of course, last week I got the news that the sand might run quite slowly, and for me, that changed everything.
I’ve re-discovered joy. That sort where you realise you have been smiling for so long your cheeks ache, and you have to rub them. I’ve also become acquainted with something that I realise I knew little about before – flexibility.
In the famous words of Powderfinger “Control, well it’s slipping right through my hands….these days turned out nothing like I had planned…”. Indeed. It’s a bit of a cancer anthem, that one. It’s made me ponder though, why we like to have so much control over our lives as a general rule. Why we like to plan, and have an idea of how those plans will pan out. It only sets us up to fail, when there are so many ways life can fuck us over.
And so, I give myself over to things I can’t control. I am in a very unique position, as I can now live my life with the fullness of someone who doesn’t know how long their life will be, and with the unique perspective of someone who also knows it’s not destined to be the three score and ten. I’ll take every opportunity to live, laugh, love, create, turn my face to that bit of winter sun that creeps through the clouds occasionally, and I won’t look at the hourglass. How far the sand will fall is in the lap of the gods, and I’m not going to focus on it.
I think my next blog post might be the one where I get to give you a sneaky peek at what the book will look like, and also a brand new look for Five Fairies and a Fella. Life can still go in this astonishing and exciting new direction, when you are terminally ill and least expect to START a new path. My mind is full of ideas, and many exciting things are around the corner. Can’t wait to share it with you all.