Life never ceases to amaze me. You stumble along thinking everything is going okay, heck, you might even utter to your partner something about, “how have we been blessed with such a perfect life?” and then just like that, life throws you a curve-ball. Sometimes it is a small curve-ball and you adjust your swing and make the most of the pitch and other times it has such a strong spin that it drops and veers so severely that it hits you with such force and you never saw it coming.
I like to think that the way we as individuals, families, friends and fellow human-beings handle the second kind of life curve-balls helps us all grow in grace and goodness. It teaches us to look at life from a different perspective and it helps us evaluate our priorities. I was given such an opportunity these past months. My curve-ball was the second kind; so much so that youngest daughter Amber posted this on my Facebook wall the first week of February: And boy oh boy, was January 2019 ever a tough YEAR. My curve-ball came as a cancer diagnosis in November and it came as such a mighty blow for myself, my wonderful husband, beautiful daughters and amazing family and close friends that I am not sure I am ever going to comprehend it all. All of the emotions that go along with a cancer diagnosis including fear, disbelief, anger, denial, anger again…we felt them all and we felt them with fierce feels. All the “Why me’s?” “What if’s?” “What did I do’s?” all came in recurring waves over the past several months. This couldn’t be happening to us… to me. And yes, I did utter to my wonderful life-partner, not a month before my diagnosis, that I felt like we had been blessed with a perfect life. Why us?
Cancer is one of those diseases that brings with it an almost immediate feeling of emanate death. Doesn’t matter what kind of cancer you have, just hearing the “C” word feels like you are going to die. I suppose the truth is, we are…we all are eventually. But when you get that diagnosis it just makes it feel so real and inevitable that things about how you are living and what you are doing and what you should be doing are bound to race through your mind like a long-shot at the Belmont Stakes. I would be lying if I said that didn’t happen to me. I asked the questions about what I have really done with my life? After all, being a goat farmer and cheese-maker isn’t exactly the acts of St.Teresa of Calcutta that I would like to aspire to. I haven’t gone to the far reaches of the world to ‘make a difference’ somehow and I suppose in truth I have to say I don’t really have a desire to do that; home is my favorite place to be. Even if I wanted to, our tiny goat dairy inhibits our ability to travel much or even visit with our beautiful daughters as a couple. The musing doesn’t stop with assessing your shortcomings of world impact, then you move on to the bucket list. What about my bucket list? There are things that I really have always wanted to do, but we have just spent our days living our life and so they haven’t happened. I haven’t seen the aurora borealis or gone dog-sledding. Shaun and I don’t have our matching buckskin horses that we have always talked about getting so that we spend weekends trail riding. It made me wonder if we have worked too much and played too little. But as the emotions subsided I wondered, have we really worked too much and played too little?
Here is what I think. Today, I am blessed to be healing (albeit, slowly) from a pretty major surgery. I am so fortunate that it was operable; so many on the Cancer Care floor where I was located are not so fortunate. I am told that it is likely to take 12 weeks to heal from the surgery and although that feels like a lifetime right now, as my surgeon aptly put it, 12 weeks feels like a very long time if you are healing, but not so long if you are dying.
I am able to celebrate that my pathology on the 31 lymph nodes that were removed during the surgery came back clean. The cancer was completely removed and today I am cancer-free…albeit pretty worked-over and sporting a new ‘semi-colon’, I am still cancer-free. I know many people, some close friends, who have not been as fortunate. I am counting my blessings.
Despite the roller-coaster of emotions that we have been riding for the past 3 months as all of this has unfolded, never once have I considered living any way other than exactly as we are living. Certainly we had discussions about changing gears if I had to undergo chemo, and we did choose to dry off all the does the first of the year while we privately anticipated what this surgery would look like for us, but go out of business? Sell the does? Nope! That wasn’t a consideration for either of us. This is our life and maybe what we do doesn’t move the dial much on promoting human welfare, but we hope it makes a little difference. Maybe I will never see the aurora borealis, but there is nothing and I mean NOTHING like the summer star displays that we experience right here at the farm.
As we look forward to spring of 2019, I can say that I know my perspective has changed. Life is beautiful. Really really beautiful. Already, I am looking at the eggs from the hen-house a little differently and admiring their beauty even more than ever before. I know that with each flower bloom, each baby born, each day with our beautiful does that I will appreciate our life more than I ever have before and I know that even though I always wondered if I had my priorities right, this little brush with the ‘C’ word has solidified what we do. More than that, I have learned how many truly real and remarkable people I have in my life and I only hope that I can spend the second half of my life showing them how much I appreciate them.
Life: it is all about perspective and priorities!
With Peace+, Lorrie