The Usual or Expected State or Condition
Either a dozen years ago, or January 19, 2020, my best friend/estranged spouse/and partner-in-aging received that which we all dread, a hideous and horrifying diagnosis.
Pre-corona virus, cancer was plenty, enough to captivate one’s full attention, generate terrors yet unknown, and rivet one toward either right action or total drooling collapse.
Mid-corona virus, cancer has been overwhelming, unbearable, and, yet one day at a time, like the rest of this twilight-zone experience, strangely and bizarrely possible.
One step at a time.
One particular terror at a time.
Being the committed co-dependent that I am, with enough lingering guilt and shame from leaving my marriage 18 months ago and because it was the right thing for me to do, I shifted into the typical-aruni-good-to-go-gear, full steam ahead.
I have done my best to show up, committed to being of support, to continue to bring my awareness back to her and her needs, putting my terror to the side. Mostly I managed this role with a modicum of grace, with hours in the hospitals passing miraculously easefully, almost gracefully, with only occasional slips and dips into self-centered pity or unmanageable terror.
This is not about me.
That became my mantra.
Yet there I am, crisis always a shiny mirror of self-reflection.
Miracle of miracles, blessing of blessings, nine weeks of treatment later, my partner is doing extraordinarily well, tolerating the chemotherapy, reducing her cancer markers, working toward her new normal.
With ferocious focus, she is choosing life.
Have I been?
I had a profound epiphany yesterday, one that sent shivers up my spine, dancing, alive, on my hairline:
Now it’s time to focus on my living.
Yet, what is my life, in the midst of this nether-land of coronavirus?
Obsessed with her dying, what is my living?
These words of Sonya Renee Taylor, author, poet, spoken word artist, humanitarian and social justice activist, made their way to me, as I pondered:
“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
We have been sent to our rooms.
There is no going back to what was.
Life as it was?
Teaching in the Forest Room?
Falling asleep with the sound of waves outside my window on my summer vacation?
My retirement dreams?
Traveling to beaches unvisited?
Mountains wrapped in grace-filled silence?
Into new arms
To hold me?
Perhaps not ever?
Sonya’s words call me into mourning.
They call me
For what was.
I must mourn what has ended.
I must grieve what was.
To move forward, to find next steps,
I must awaken as I did tonight,
As I often do,
My new “special” time.
I must awaken
into the emptiness,
The not knowing.
The lack of form,
The lack of clarity.
Not into the fear of losing her.
But into the fear of finding me.
Not into the endless scenarios of her ending.
But into the formlessness of my new beginning.
Emptiness like I’ve never known.
The only thing possible,
The only response I can muster
Leaning toward gratitude:
What else is there to say?
Our chance to join together, practicing mindful communication, to remember we are not alone. Please join if you can by just coming on Zoom, utilizing the below links—no registration is needed. The link will take you into the Zoom meeting.
Please note: You’ll need the password share2020 to enter the meeting.
- Tuesday, 4/21, @ 1:00 Click Here for Meeting Information
- Thursday, 4/23, @ 1:00 Click here for Meeting Information
Donation is appreciated, 5% will be given to the Berkshire County Food Bank.
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As we let go of what was, as we settle into what is, let us open our hearts to what might be.
Let’s not give us before the miracle.
I say none of this to take away our feelings.
I say it to give us the courage to go through them.
Be well, be safe—