I’d written only that one line when I was suddenly attacked by a wave of pain and nausea. Barely able to walk, I hobbled to the bathroom holding my middle, catching a glimpse of my pale grey reflection in a mirror on the way.
Heart attack? Gas? Cancer? My mind raced to locate the pain that moved from front to back and from low to high, all over me. I thought of the beer and two and a half hotdogs I ate at the hikers’ picnic a few hours before. And then, for a half hour, I sat on the toilet with a wastebasket in my lap and remembered my daughter during her chemo treatments, moaning on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet.
As I waited to feel better, I recalled the cycles of remission and relapse, and how everything in our lives was put on hold as we waited for the pains to subside and for her good days to outnumber the bad.
Following my daughter in and out of hospitals, I lived with cancer for almost three years. It was a life-changing experience. Marika got completely washed out by it. But I survived.
As a result of cancer I run to show the dermatologist every new freckle that appears. I put off my annual physical exams. I give blood whenever I can. I drag my feet in finding jobs and can’t seem to return to my normal daily life. I feel compelled to volunteer and donate to cancer-related organizations. And I want to hug and hold every chemo warrior and her mother. Like Erica Zimmer the Awkward Cancer Girl. And Robin Roberts of Good Morning America. And Suleika Jaouad with Life, Interrupted.
But mostly, I watch the world like it has put on new jewels and makeup. The sweetness and fragility of life awes me each morning and every night and all the blessed moments in between.