This seems to be a time in my life for processing – the breast cancer journey, bringing Sahkanaga home, my life in general. Processing always takes me a long time. I suppose ultimately it takes a lifetime.
I’ll begin with Sahkanaga. The movie did very well in Chattanooga. Last weekend it played to a pretty full theater for even early showings, and according to friends, people continued to go out to see it on weekdays. I think the movie generated many conversations – at least it did among my friends – and those conversations were a part of healing for this area. After all, this is the place that bore the impact of the actual crematory incident. And even these 10 years later, those affected are still hurt. So the film aided the processing, at least from my vantage point. As a fictional piece, it allowed people to look at the situation from many perspectives and to acknowledge the complexity and pain of the situation.
The movie looks at not only death and how we take care of (or don’t take care of) what remains when our souls move on but also pain and betrayal and redemption. Though we don’t like to look at death, that and pain and betrayal and redemption are the stuff of everyday life. But we seldom take the time to process what it means to be alive on this earth – and the fact that one day, each one of us will die.
That brings me to my cancer journey. One year ago, I was coming up on the final treatment of my first round of chemo. I was getting weaker and weaker. I was already bald. It was glorious autumn, just like now, but I felt like an underwater diver, bouncing slowly through the landscape, not mobile, not able to see well, just getting through what was right in front of me. How do I take the lessons of the cancer journey and my looking at the reality of death and apply all that now, in an autumn when I feel well? How do I live a deep and rich life and stay present to what is – all the while being aware that death is a certain reality?
I’m not sure.
But I am trusting myself to find my way, taking it one day at a time, not fearful of the future. Trying to be accepting.
I had the reminder that the journey to recovery is a long one when I had the seroma at the lumpectomy site aspirated yet again on Thursday. My surgeon said that I’ve been his number one patient as far as fluid problems after a lumpectomy and node-removal. That’s not a number one I’d seek. But I have it. I thought this aspiration would be about the same as the one five weeks ago. But no, it was closer to the record-setting one back in the spring. This time the surgeon drained about 370-380 milliliters of fluid. I know I’ve made progress, because before breast cancer I’d have been really nervous before having a procedure that involved needles. Big needles. But now I can sit in the waiting room not worried, knowing the procedure, knowing I’ll have some pain but not a lot, knowing that I can tolerate whatever pain there is, and knowing that the procedure will ultimately lessen the daily pain.
I came home Thursday evening and had an achy night and next day. I’ve asked friends for specific prayers and good energy that the seroma doesn’t fill again. I’ll ask that of you here reading my blog, too. When I made a specific request back in the spring for prayers and good energy for no fire (radiation burns) and no water (fluid buildup), that request was granted. So I’m asking for no water (again).
And I’m still processing what this all means. This healing path, this recovery, this new almost-comfort with needles, this fluid buildup, this movie homecoming, this life path of mine. My following into an unknown future.
That used to scare me. The unknown.
But not so much anymore. I’m learning to trust that wherever the path goes, whether I understand it or not, I’m okay.
Because we’re all on a journey. And we have some mighty pretty surroundings, especially in the autumn. So I breathe in and out, appreciating the clear autumn sky, the golds and oranges and reds of the turning trees. And I’m grateful for homecoming and healing.