Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The most authentic thing about us 
is our capacity 
to create, 
to overcome, 
to endure, 
to transform, 
to love, and 
to be greater than our suffering.
Ben Okri

When I was in my mid-forties, a friend of mine found out she had pancreatic cancer.  The word "cancer" strikes fear into almost anyone's heart, but couple it with "pancreatic" and for the most part there's not much room for hope.  Lee was given "maybe a year" and that's about what she got -- eleven months.  I was really blessed to be part of her last eleven months; we not only became extremely close friends, but I was also a primary caregiver.   It was one of the most difficult, painful times of my life, and also one of the best. It's truly an honor and a gift to share time like that with someone.

I wasn't a saint.  I never felt like I was sacrificing something, or doing something special.  It was like it was given to me to be part of her life and I simply never questioned it, even though it became an overriding  part of my life, while she was alive and for some time after, as I worked through my grief.  It was something I was supposed to do and so I did.

She died when she was 50.  I was 46.  She was young, but I realized there are no guarantees, and I swore that for every year I lived past 50, I would be grateful, and know that I got something my friend never had. 

That's the kind of vow you make when you're in the midst of emotions, and I knew even then that I might start to take my life for granted after some time and distance from my experiences with her.


I've never forgotten, and never not been grateful.  And this year, when I woke up on the morning of my 59th birthday, I didn't think, "Ugh, I'm one year older!  Ugh, I'm one year away from the big 6-0!  Ugh, I'm getting old!"

Almost the very first thought I had was, "Wow, I'm 59!  That's nine years more than Lee got, and I'm really happy to be here."  My own cancer has, of course, strengthened this outlook, but much of what I went through with my own cancer wasn't new -- it was simply reinforcement of something I already knew and felt.

I can't even take credit for having such a good attitude.  Like my time with Lee, the gratitude has been a gift, and another thing to be grateful for.  Every day isn't a cake walk, nor am I at my best every day.  But I know every day is a gift, and when I hear the red-winged blackbirds sing as they return for another year, my heart sings to be here to share that year with them.

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