piece by piece

Posted on June 8, 2008 by Val |0 Comments

i am no longer feeling terror. which is such a relief.
what i feel mostly is a great deal of wonder. suddenly this amazing organic community of people that i love; that i have always known and relished; has bloomed. like some 20 year perennial. here, suddenly is a graceful flower of such remarkable visual force. such heart-stopping beauty.

and the thing is, i didn’t know it could do that.
and i am in awe at the new knowledge. what i didn’t know about life. about these people and this community. i didn’t know what it would feel like to be surrounded. to see such desire in people to protect me.
people coming flying across the country to sit with me. to hear my terror. to tell me i am strong. giving us food. giving us massages. leaving gifts on the door, in the yard. tonight a hand-painted sign near the lavender bush that says “faith”. they hiked with me and my still-strong body up the mountain-side. and stood with me in an orchard of trees. played music with me in the living room. arranged consults with top-notch lung doctors, gave me acupuncture, brought me smoothie mix so i can eat, sang for me. acts of such camaraderie and joy.
truly death defying.
people are taking this personally. it is an affront. they are not going to let me go.
and i feel lifted and carried. it is not enough to say that i feel loved. i am filled with wonder and curiosity at this amazing mobilization much of the day. piece by piece they take away my terror, and fill me with gratitude.

many years ago in Alaska, i was trying to explain to my very excellent friend Cosmic Patty about the insignificance of my life. of any single human life on this earth. we are so minute compared to time, to the planetary ecosystem.the tides.Yeah, she said, but you are integral. it couldn’t be, any of it, without you. i didn’t really believe her.

i have thought about that many times in the last few days. i can understand it now. i have seen the impact this has on this community. some close and some far. my biological family and friends of friends. people i have met only once but i still think about. people i haven’t seen for 10 years. people i work with. deborah’s people. people of the people.
this small tumor in my body has caused a ripple in the world. it tells me i belong in this family. i belong to these people. i am integral. even when i am no longer here. whenever that happens. val was here.

also, there are some encouraging bits of news about new drugs for this kind of cancer. about people surviving after being told they will not. about nutrition to fortify during chemo and radiation.

ways to live. at the same time i am being forced to consider my own mortality. and i have discovered it is unknowable. just like it was last year. maybe now maybe later. by car or tumor or bad guacamole. i ask my body if it thinks we are going to die. (do bodies know?) and it assures me that everything is a-okay. nobody dying. except for the pesky cough and the anxiety, i feel fine. can hike. laugh. wash dishes. tell jokes.

i do find myself resenting really old people that smoke a little. and have no tolerance for people complaining about their age.

the thing about this is that it has alerted the family of people. it has gotten deborah’s attention in particular. and mine too, to be honest. the naming of things has power. it is called lung cancer and that has a way of getting people interested. but now there are so many more things going on here than some overzealous lung cells. and mostly deeply interesting and lovely things. things worth noting. valuable things that i didn’t know life could do.

right now. right now i am here. so happy to be here. so in love with this family. thank you so much.

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