Over the past three weeks, I have been in bed more than out. At one point, that would have meant lots of fun. At this point, it meant that I had a horrible cold, then chemo, followed by more of that cold, plus a bowel obstruction. Sometimes, I could get out of bed and do one thing with much effort (like brush my teeth), and then return to bed.
Lying there, I spent most of my time looking out the window at the many shades of pale: the grey skies; the white snow on the roof and trees; the clear, thick icicles hanging from the gutters. We live in Cambridge, MA and have been in the throes of winter for weeks. The snow is deep and the temperatures frigid. We can get outside, but doing anything requires more effort than it does when we have less snow and warmer temps. Though we have storm after storm and it can feel like this winter season will never end, I know there will come a day when I will look at green grass and budding flowers, and I will feel the sun on my skin. The piles of snow and cold temperatures will all be just a memory.
I try to take that vision of spring and apply it to my body. I have been sick for so many days in a row, in so many different ways, that it is hard to imagine ever feeling well. I have an underlying worry that this every-other-week chemo will be my life, and I try not to let that take over my psyche but it has been a constant battle. I envision breathing clearly again and actually speaking a full sentence without coughing. I dream of a full week without vomiting. I consider that I won’t need to brace for pain at every turn. I will be able to shower and dress without a second thought to the amount of energy it takes. I imagine feeling light and energetic, able to do whatever activities I want, all day long.
While I am waiting for all this to unfold, I need to find a footing, some stable place to stand that feels even a little like wellness. Without that, these thoughts feel a bit like make-believe, untethered and existing only in the ether.
I know from experience that if I ask for help and wait, guidance will come, but I still get impatient. What if it doesn’t come this time? Like this winter, it felt like my well-being would never shift for the better.
Footing did, however, eventually present itself in a few forms: A friend sent me an email about a promising clinical trial for a cure; I received a really nice card from a friend; I was eventually able to get out of bed and pick up my child from school; my husband and I attended a dinner party where I ate solid food and laughed for the first time in two weeks.
One step at a time, my prayers were answered. I’m starting to feel better. I can breathe clearly for longer stretches. I have been out of bed all day today.
Being ill can make life feel long and dark, like winter. And even though another snowstorm is predicted for tonight, I know that it is only for now and spring is slowly making its way. Even if I can’t see the signs, I know they are there. I just need to hang in there and be patient and watch for the small signs of change.
(Man) sees the morning as the beginning of a new day; he takes germination as the start in the life of a plant, and withering as its end. But this is nothing more than biased judgment on his part. Nature is one. There is no starting point or destination, only an unending flux, a continuous metamorphosis of all things”
~ Masanobu Fukuoka
May you feel your metamorphosis into better and better being. The small changes that make you more of yourself, give you a fuller life, take you to places higher than your dreams. Today is just today, this moment, and there is the potential for better, in the next moment and always, no matter how slow it feels.
Thanks for hanging in there with me, and for believing. Your faith in the future helps me to believe that, underneath events that can be difficult to deal with, there are beautiful, unseen things waiting for the right time to bloom.