Before cancer, I never examined my own mortality. I know that death is supposed to trigger those ideas, but in my experience with death, the resulting ideas were a little less conventional. When my grandma died my focus was not on mortality, but on her journey. I wanted to know that her spirit was still alive.
In the days after her death, my great uncle (Grandma’s brother) came to be with us. He wanted to reserve a private room at a nice restaurant where we could all be together and celebrate her life. He called restaurant after restaurant, but couldn’t seem to find one with a room. As far as I know, there are lots of restaurants with private rooms. After much searching, he finally found a place and we all gathered together for lunch.
To truly grasp the significance of what I’m about to say, you need to know something about my grandma… she loved books. It was rare that you would find her without her nose in a book. In her lifetime she read thousands of books. She devoured them. Toward the end of her life she would often run into the problem of investing several hours into a book only to realize that she’d already read it. Books were her escape. Books were her livelihood.
I arrived at the restaurant to meet my family for lunch that day. A hostess led me to the room my uncle had reserved. Customary hugs and greetings were passed around. We took our seats around the table, at which point I was able to take in my surroundings. The room was appropriately named “the library”. The unusual room was covered in wallpaper depicting shelves filled with hundreds of books. It gave me chills. The consensus among us was that she had somehow brought us there.
I’m sure there are people who will believe that it was just a really strong coincidence, and that’s fine, but I’ll believe what I want.
Her death didn’t make me fear my mortality. I knew she was somewhere else. I knew she was safe and no longer feeling fear or pain. The thoughts I had were more comforting than frightening. I believed that if her soul could cross the barrier of conventional existence, than so could mine (when the time came). There was nothing to be feared.
When something threatens your life before you’ve had the chance to live it out, that’s when you examine your own mortality.
At the beginning, when my cancer consisted of lots of question marks, I began to examine my life closely. There is still so much that I want to do and see. There are people in my life that I absolutely cannot leave. It cannot be my time yet. I’m nowhere near done living.
Yesterday was my 30th birthday.
Climbing up into another decade of age is something that is alarming to many people. Thirty used to loom in the distance and intimidate me with its adult expectations. It just seemed so old. One of the things that happens when you are diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 is that you realize just how young you are.
With that said, the time has come to fight for my 40s and 50s and 60s… Time to fight for the ability to grow and evolve and experience as much as I can of this world. The time has come for chemo #1.
I’m still riding the high of my new title of fiance and the amazing birthday week that I have had so far. Despite that, it is the eve of chemo and the little demons of fear and anxiety are creeping in. Atleast I know that this is the beginning of the end. Another step toward the finish line.
I will be ok. I will fight. I have so much to live for.