I spent the first two months of 2014 having every test under the sun, waiting for just one of them to let me know that the two surgeries and radiation I’d had to close out 2013 had actually done the trick and that the cancer was completely gone. Talk about an emotional roller-coaster!!! Hope, fear, frustration, anger, exhaustion and anxiety all formed into a cohesive ball that I carried around in the pit of my stomach. Every call for results was taken with my breath held; my only comfort being that inconclusive results still left room for a happy ending. Finally, on March 6th, I got the happy ending call at long last. I’m not sure I realized how anxious an terrified I had been until the nurse’s all clear sent a tidal wave of joy and elation rushing over me, cleansing my soul and repairing my heart. I wrote in my journal that day, a snapshot of that joy, and I am so glad I did. Reading it reminds me to be thankful on even the bad days and reminds me that I owe it to the universe to live my best life, to be my best me. I am ashamed to admit that there are days forget my own wise advice. I share it with you now, hoping that it might help someone else too.
Oh that overwhelming feeling as the nurse’s words come through the phone line with a zing, stunning you with their power! Afraid to believe, to move, to breathe, you stand there and question this new reality even as the shackles of fear clatter to the ground, as your mind begins to recognize the truth of the words that your heart and soul immediately heard as freedom and joy sending them soaring to an all-time high. Suddenly your body catches on and, realizing what’s going on, you rocket to your feet, tears streaming down your face and into the phone you utter words of thanks that can’t even come close to your true feelings.
As you repeat the nurse’s words out loud to the faces watching you anxiously with bated breath, they suddenly coalesce into fact. You laugh. You cry. You celebrate. You sob. You hug. Emotion after emotion washes through you, over you, and you know that there will never be just the right combination of words to describe how you feel, not even for the lover of words that you are. You try. You try again. But what you are feeling right now is so visceral that it escapes even the magic of words that has never failed you before. Only your soul will ever truly know the true relief felt as the tower of worry cascades down and dissolves into nothing.
You may have taken a beating, but you’re still standing. You survived, stared down the barrel of the gun, not once, but twice. And you may find that that gun has you in its sights yet again some day. But not today. No, on this day, the world is right. Your children will not be attending your funeral. Your husband will not be left to grow old alone. Your parents can breathe again, their daughter’s life no longer in peril, their hands no longer clutched in prayer as they stand by helpless. Your siblings can come together in celebration with you as four, rather than three together in mourning for you. Your godmother can cease the silent worry that she tried to hide from you even as it was visible in her eyes and in her actions. Your friends and friends of friends who helped you and held you, prayed for you and worried with you,will know it was to heal you, not to ease you on your way to another place.
You can, in this moment, say thank you God for allowing my will to be the same as thy will, for blessing me with another chance to soldier on, fully aware that there may be other battles to come. But here, in this very moment, is only celebration. The ones you love– the amazing family and friends who have walked through this fiery hell with you–will not worry tonight, unsure and helpless to fix this for you. Instead, they can sleep easy, wrapped in a warm blanket of happiness. And you will do the same, knowing that you will wake tomorrow and this will still be real. You will wake in your home with your husband and your children and, although you are not a morning person, you will smile. Because you can. Because here, in this very moment, life is good. You’ve seen the dark side and been allowed to come back into the light.
Maybe the lesson here is that, whatever the good, the bad and the ugly are–I won’t lie–they do exist–But whatever it is that comes our way, we are here. You are going through this moment–good,bad or indifferent–because you can. Because God, fate and the universe decided you had more to give to this world. You may never know why you were graced with this second chance. You may always wonder why you and not someone else. And Lord knows, life isn’t always pretty and sometimes normal is boring and sometimes everyday life is full of drudgery. But on this day–this amazing, wonderful, glorious day–as you celebrate, as the ones who love you celebrate, as it feels like the very earth is celebrating, take a few moments to revel in the love and absolute joy washing over you. Let it soak into every part of you, into the very essence of your soul.
Tuck away pieces of the love, the awe and gratitude into the deepest parts of your heart and soul where, should you need them, they will rise up and heed the call, lighting your way along some unknown future dark path. May you never need their guidance but may their presence alone allow your soul to glow with peace. May the joy you feel this day stay in your heart to lighten your spirit. May the love that surrounds you today stay wrapped around your heart, providing warmth and solace on the dreary days that must go hand-in-hand with the sunny days in any life. May the gratitude you feel today humble you and make you kind to others around you, for you know not what simple words may hurt or heal another’s soul. Hold this moment tight in your hands, close to your heart and allow its memory to shine bright.
You are here. Your heart is singing, your feet are dancing and your soul is flying. And you vow to be, not perfect, but better. To try and remember each day that you are here in this very moment–in every moment–because you can be. Remember how easily you might not have been but for the grace of God. God, fate and the universe smiled down on you today and decreed your life unfinished, no matter how unworthy you might feel. Remember today. Never forget. Then let this second chance empower you to shine your light into the world. Believe you are worthy. Be kind. Be good. Be happy. You are here. And that is worth celebrating. On this day, in this moment, on every day, in every moment.