I’m living with my cancer and without fear of death. When I die, I close of the book of life I’ve written from my birth until that last, peaceful exhale. Beginning immediately facing each new day with gratitude not despair, love not fear, finding comfort in the changes that occur naturally and without effort each day in the certainty of growing even a minute older and slightly wiser.
If someone complains about their age or the effects of age in their outward appearance I have to laugh at the folly of vanity while coming to the aging process from a position of hope. I hope to live to see my gradually aging face or look down at my time weathered hands and that my days are full of garden dirt and callouses from toiling with artistic endeavors and of writing. Each of these efforts yields a better experience with each moment of practice.
What if the following statement were absolutely true: Practicing life prepares us for a beautiful death.
Longing for the great gift of aging.
We move into consciousness from sleep each day – a sleep from which we, eventually, will no longer awaken. I’ve breathed gently in the last soft breath of my best friend Allan who died (too young!) at 37 years of age from AIDS related illness, and that of my father who died at 71 years of age from complications of a huge but benign mitochondrial brain tumor. I am grateful to have had the blessed offering to bear witness of death at their sides.
Breathing someone’s final exhale of air is a taste few of us get the opportunity to intake. This very act has had such a profound impact in my life, that it’s now upon meditation and deep reflection, completely changed my perspective of death. So much so that the sadness of loss in living life without them honestly feels selfish to me now. Neither of them are in physical pain and they’re with my consciousness here as long as I am.
Curiously I await to solve the mystery of where our consciousness goes after the body separates from the energy it produced to make thoughts, memories, laughter, truths, inventions, experiences, experiments and most importantly LOVE. While the transition of consciousness certainly keeps me expectant of this single universal truth and everyone’s final gift from a life lived, it’s so intriguing to me as to what happens during that process.
In NO way am I in a huge hurry to find out. And I have no “bucket list.” I’m not going to kick the bucket over to see what’s inside. Nor do I have but two regrets. I’m keeping those for myself for now, but nothing personal.
Awakening wide awake.
While dreading it in the past I now love having insomnia because it gives me extra quiet solitude and time to read, write, think, meditate. Yet at first I resented my inability to sleep about one night a week – sometimes more or less. Insomnia depends upon what my body struggles to heal from and my mind refuses to put a bookmark in my life for the day and close down for the night.
Finally it dawned on me – no pun intended – that rather than fight to find sleep that never falls I should embrace the extra gift of time. There is so much our bodies try to tell us that we reject for various reasons. But maybe metastatic cancer comes with an after hours club invitation that we should gladly RSVP to join rather than fight or decline.
Yet the deepening loneliness and isolation do not feel especially worthy of the “gift” title. And these emotional rips in my seams aren’t worth a moment of extra time from cancer happens to have as a special kick in the head.
Over four years, depression changed my husband into someone I no longer know. The man I knew wouldn’t just sit around silently or pretend to sleep while actually ruminating. I wish he’d get well and rejoice with me in the daylight instead of what he cannot help on his own and all of it has me very angry right now.
Did I overstay to the point of no exit due to the intolerable amount of stress a breakup and move alone would cause me? That delectable detectable Cortisol flavor that cancer finds especially yummy would emit from the stress body might literally kill me. The consolation of quenching my curiosity about the death process would be checked off my “need to find out” short list, but not at the loss of and the deep desire for some loving time with him. And by “him” I mean whomever he becomes when he picks up his head after too long of his beautiful mind gone into the darkness of despair I cannot cure with or for him.
Of course resentment lingers in the air like smog over Los Angeles in the 70s. And I question my own judgement of trading fierce love and loyalty for self preservation.
Regrettable or not?
How do I not cover my eyes while I ride shotgun as he’s driving us both underground in and out of the dark tunnels of depression? Depression removes a person’s individuality as they move from one conscious state of being to another. Yet how to find his cruel remarks and his lack of empathy and care during those darker times as a way to see myself differently and stand back and remember that it’s just my thoughts making me unhappy hasn’t come to me…yet.
I find it really difficult to separate the depression from the person – is it the depression or is it really him saying that or, very frustratingly, not saying anything? Is it me he’s angry with or my disease? How can he look at me writhing in bed all weekend and not move to ease my suffering? I cannot find another way to understand but this:
Our conscious selves equal our thoughts and our thoughts are only illusory. However, rip the ribbons and paper from the present and by the time you think you’ve understood something fully, it’s already in the past. I meditate in the here and now, in this moment. I meditate to receive the world I’m in without judgement or labels or any expectations. I believe any person will do what they will regardless of what we choose to believe they think or feel, and I cannot know what anyone else feels but myself about a situation means.
Or, in other words – if life’s difficulties are only our thoughts and my thoughts aren’t “me,” but very much a construction of my consciousness – then why does it hurt so deeply to my core!?! Riddle me that, Joker!
One singular sensation!
Please make no mistake, I believe in a singular One-ness, connecting all things that ever were to all things in forevermore. Perhaps not inclusive of an organized religion’s version of God for me to adhere to, and for which I do not begrudge anyone’s spirituality. (I do take issue with those who feel the need to commit acts of violence in the name of their god(s).)
I believe in the One representing all beginnings and every ending together at once, the circle of what is and is not, energy and harmony, light and dark, opposites and parities. And you can hear my voice raise up with the joy of this “knowing.” Perhaps it is towards this abstraction, where our spirits or souls disappear, when our physical bodies give way and depart from the earth and the understandable, tangible universe. Back to the singular One, the infinite, to everything and in nothing. Mind blown in the windless universe.
I think my most authentic sense of self is found in the fundamental truth that all things, every molecule making up every thought and every step that leads us to the next place in the dimension we choose even by releasing a sneeze or not eating that apple, comes from the same “stuff” as dreams and stars are made of…and with that I can rest my mind free of guilt, shame, pain, and suffering. If it were only so easy to do as to say “I can do this.” And I’m in no way close to perfect and may find someday that I’m very, very wrong! Straight to hell with me and my heresy!
My confessions should be crystal clear to you – haha! But here’s the short list
- I hate cancer.
- I’m slightly afraid but definitely curious about death.
- I hate depression.
- I’m really angry with my partner for not being a partner.
- I think I should have left him but I’m not sure so I won’t.
- My spirituality is probably a mixed bag of religions, eastern philosophies, and science.
This may be anticlimactic for having read so far, but part of writing is practicing to become a better writer. And a great writer I’m not but a good writer I’m becoming. Greatness alludes me.
But I start each day hoping…