What Brought Me Here?
With the progression of the cancer in my body over the past 1.5 years, the signs and symptoms of this disease has become more evident. I recall the surgeon telling me that it would be the cancer in the liver that would be my demise. Over the past month, there are significant signs of liver failure. My upper body is skeletal skinny, while my abdominal area very bloated. There is significant edema (swelling) in my legs (more on the left side), and a jaundice colour in my eyes. Eating becomes more challenging, as my body is very selective as to what it will keep down, as well as how much it wants to eat at a time. What seems so ironic is that it is having a more challenging time eating all the healthier fruits and vegetables that I was eating pre-cancer.
The night time pain meant that I woke frequently through the night. Not having consistent sleeping (waking sometimes every hour), resulted in more fatigue during the day time hours, and a lack of motivation. I finally conceded to try a stronger pain medication. I have gradually increased the dose to one that assists in a more restful sleep and doesn't leave me too groggy the next morning.
With each passing day, the reality that I am dying hits home. Dying this young wasn't part of my plan. Really though, is it part of anyone's plan? Recall that "the fastest way to make God laugh is to tell God your plans." Most people want to live a long and healthy life. I recall my Grandmother Bowen telling me that if she wasn't able to take care of herself, then she no longer wanted to be here. She was strong willed and did just that. In many ways I take after her.
I do believe in a Higher Power, the Soul, and the Spirit. I believe we are guided. I believe that there is a "Sacred Contract", and a time to live and a time to die. At times, these beliefs comfort me. There is also that little child inside of me, throwing a tantrum because I don't get to have it my way. I had wanted to be that active 80 year old, still able to get out on the ice, or be dancing with everyone commenting how cute I was. I can't help but think of my Aunt Pat when I think of this. My Aunt Pat always seemed to know how to have fun, amidst all the chaos of the world. She loved dressing up on Halloween as a witch and sit very still on her front porch as the children approached for the candy. Use your imagination as to what happened next.
Rediscovering joy that has been overshadowed by expectations and obligations of living in this physical world has been part of this journey for me. In the last blog I commented on feeling depressed. Being physically active has always been a source of joy in my life. Physical activity became more challenging with the cancer's progression. This disease robs a person of stamina and strength. It slowly deteriorates the body. Despite this, on September 15th, 2021, I laced up my skates. As my skates hit the ice, the sense of pure joy radiated through my body. I tolerate about 30 minutes of skating, with a short break in the middle. I often nap before and after I skate (2 hours before and 2.5 hours after the last one). Occasionally, I go on my own, but have been joined frequently by 1-3 of my hockey friends. They do help keep me motivated, as there are times it would be easy to bail out of skating. The swelling in my legs is worse after skating, and I actually get help getting the skate off. I feel like a kid again.
Another hockey friend, drove me to Nanaimo for a stick and puck skate. We were the only females there. I felt very weak and uncoordinated with the stick and puck. After my rest, I saw a young boy of about the age of 6, standing alone by the boards. I started passing the puck with him and my friend joined in. It reminded me of the times that I had re-arranged my work schedule to join my good friend and her 3 boys out on the ice at Fuller Lake.
Joy for me also comes in the form of connection with people. Covid hit shortly after my diagnosis. After almost 2 years, I finally made it back to my home town to visit in person with my family, as well as some of my high school and University friends. There are a great many fond memories from my high school days, as well as University. I think one of the craziest things we did at University was to drive 2.5 hours from the University of Waterloo down to Buffalo New York for chicken wings. These are the memories that make me smile (and sometimes shake my head).
The one thing I know I did in this world was to not put things off. As one navigates the river back to the ocean, there are times when you can relax and flow with the current; then you hit the chaos of the rapids and are exerting everything in your power to not capsize. Just keep paddling my father would say. Then you may hit a spot where you can pull off to the shore, be still, rest and recover.
This may be the final chapter of my physical presence on this earth. I know that I am more than just my physical Self. My Soul will carry on. I will be given a new assignment.
What brought me here?
My Soul to this place To finally awaken - a feeling There must be more. Can it remember a time of joy and peace? Can it sense something - beyond the screen- upon which my thoughts are cast? Reflecting back the illusions of perceptions. What is it my Soul seeks? Reunion with the Creator? In truth it was never separated. It will not know this -until all illusions are dismissed and it can only know the Truth about itself. What brought me here to stand at the gateway of the journey home? The sense that home is the love for which the Soul searches.