Cancer and its treatments have brought a kind of emptying for me. Often now I’m so present with what is that I don’t worry about the usual list that used to preoccupy me – making money, meeting obligations, communicating with others about various to-dos, chores and errands, committees, planning. Those are mostly gone. I’m the most present when I feel the worst. Pain supersedes thinking about and planning for some ultimately unknown future.
So in that respect, pain is a gift, one that focuses me on the present. How often did I drive somewhere and never see what I was passing? I’d be so absorbed in my thoughts that I wouldn’t see what was actually there. Now I see things I’ve never noticed before, houses that I’ve driven past for years and never noticed. Flowers and trees and dogs and even chickens adorn my drives now. The vivid colors of fall nearly take my breath away. The whistle of the steam engine as it heads toward Chickamauga on a fall excursion seems more poignant. I thought I enjoyed all of these sights and sounds before, but now they are more themselves than a representation of something else. I used to associate them with memories or think about what they meant for the past or present. Now I don’t try to find meanings as often but am more content to see and hear.
Yesterday some of the chemo fog lifted a bit, and all seemed somehow clearer. Not clearer in meaning but clearer in feeling. Less heavy, less dragged down. And today’s sky seems too vivid blue to be real. Surely it’s a colorized photo of the sky? No, that’s what a fall sky really looks like. And I’m so grateful to be able to see it and appreciate it.
Tomorrow my sister starts her drive from New Hampshire to my house. She was scheduled to start today, but the unseasonably early snowstorm that’s sweeping up the east coast into New England has changed the plan. The heaviest snow is right on her route, so delaying a day is the best course. It’s just another lesson about the best laid plans of mice and men. I’m not in control. Never have been and never will be.
I will enjoy having my sister here for a couple of weeks, through the last chemo of this round and into my recovery from that. I see the surgeon on Tuesday and should have a better idea about when surgery might take place. But I know it’s not in my hands. I’m dependent on doctors and their offices and their opinions and schedules – and the weather – and I’ll adjust to whatever that looks like. And as for me now, I’ll finish that glass of grape juice and enjoy the warm sun and bright fall day and be grateful that I’m not in a fog today and can enjoy the sights and sensations that this Saturday brings. And I’ll continue emptying, allowing more and more room for what is.