Cancer Chronicles, Part 13

It was one of my birthdays a few days ago — I think I might have mentioned that I have two birthdays a year, one that I chose, and one that I wasn’t aware of choosing, although taking twenty six hours to pass through the birth canal might have been my attempt to be born on a particular day, who knows. And on that birthday a few days ago, a friend made me a purple cauliflower mash (see picture) and I remembered what I had, what I had been given, what is already right: Gravity. What would we do without it? Tastebuds. Can you imagine not being able to taste a peach? Roses, particularly Just Joey, and the way they unfold their beauty without regard to who will tell them how beautiful they are. Hummingbirds. Dozens of them every day splaying their luminescent wings, reminding me over and over that flight can happen in any moment, every moment. My face. Years ago, after experiencing anaphylactic shock from the contrast dye in a CT scan, my face blew up, meaning it got to three times its size, broke out in blistered weeping itchy rashes and my eyes could barely open. I was teaching a retreat at the time and asked my sweet colleague if I really looked as awful as the mirror told me I looked. Yes, he said, ever so kindly. You really do. And as always, when we lose something (in this case, my familiar face), I couldn’t believe how I had taken my face for granted. How everyone around me took their faces for granted. My husband. I never thought I’d get married, never thought anyone could put up with me (which gives you a sense of how unkind my thoughts were about myself), and here we are, decades later, continually glad to see each other, be with each other. I could mention so many more things: dogs, friends, hands, sweaters, breath, peonies. And being cancer free. Finishing treatment. Being on the other side of cancer while still learning every day about the journey. But for now, just giving thanks for life itself as the earth revolves around the sun one more time and I’m still here to witness it.

To read more in the Cancer Chronicles, click here.

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