The answer is no — no cancer, that is. My conscientious and very compassionate surgeon called me on a Friday night, almost 7 P.M., to deliver the good news. The large lymph node that he removed earlier that week, was not cancer. He was hard at work on a Friday night because he didn’t want me to spend the weekend worrying.
He was right. I was prepared to spend all weekend and the following days until our appointment, vacillating between a feigned calm and outright panic mode.
Cancer doesn’t run in my family, it runs through it. (At 23 years of age, my cherished baby brother received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and believe me, the irony was not lost on me that they were biopsying one of my lymph nodes.) Nevertheless, the incident caused me to consider the state of my life.
I feel schizophrenic. If truth be told, as of late, the outright panic mode is truer to form, but I am Christian for heaven’s sake and doesn’t faith mean that I be calm in the belief that God has me covered and that he would hear the scores of people praying and pleading on my behalf. It’s like George Bailey’s family and friends from “It’s A Wonderful Life” whose voices reached up to heaven in George Bailey’s most desperate hour of need. But, I didn’t feel that way.
The thing is that the past months have been so “challenging,” that I began to think that I was living a dream in which I woke to find myself participating in the Iditarod race, for which I was wholly unprepared. I have been mired and lost in the valley. I’ve had an appendectomy, a myriad of problems with my eyes which will result in, at least, a couple of surgeries, the awful cancer scare, worsened pain from fibromyalgia, depression, and that sometimes stressful thing called “life.”
I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t dealt with most of the challenges well. No, at times, I’ve allowed my mind to run amok, assured that I had some terminal illness that would result in my impending death. I allowed myself to ponder what it would be like to miss seeing my g’children grow up, and lots of other shit. (I told you that I allowed my mind to have at it.) As the negative stuff increased, I allowed it to take hold. I like to think that I can handle anything that life throws at me, and I have time after time. This time was different, and I became a walking example of a stress “don’t. Furthermore, I hate myself for it. So, it is time to take control of the situation.
I am fully aware of the effects of the prolonged ‘fight or flight’ response. I know it but I am dwelling in it and I have to stop. It has a negative effect on my physical, mental and emotional health, and is a boon for my counselor. I look in the mirror and don’t know or particularly like the person that I see.
Screw that! I am shedding the withered skin of the last months and reclaiming Lydia. I am taking myself back. If truth be told, I haven’t been Lydia for a long time and I miss her. I really am not dwelling in the past, l am simply acknowledging the loss of my best self. In fact, I intend to be just that, MY best self. The self that is the authentic, one-of-a-kind, day dreaming, me, myself and I.
She has been there all the time, waiting patiently until I was ready to try her on again. Little snippets of her invaded my thoughts, but they were fleeting because I could not acknowledge her.
The desire to change came about innocuously. There were no roaring trumpets heralding in change. I used to love container gardening. Planting them and tending them would soothe my spirit. Watching them grow into mature plants delighted me. I had over 50 varieties of herbs. At some point, I lost interest in it. I couldn’t summon the energy to tend them. Whenever I went outside, the scores of empty pots saddened me, so I avoided the area.
“The wound is where the light enters you.” ~ Rumi
As Spring arrived, the urge to buy some plants, surprised me. It’s funny how playing in the dirt, getting my hands filthy, communing with the plants and flowers and watching them grow before my eyes, lit a spark in me. I unearthed myself in that soil.
The plants stoked a fire that reminds me of the woman who I was, the woman who I miss. With each flower that blooms and each plant that grows and flourishes, I feel stronger, more confident, more me. Although this Lydia is older, she is still compassionate, kind, loving and beautiful. She is ready to leave the past behind as she seeks her home, her querencia.
Granted, the peaks will not come all at once. It will take some time to understand the lessons that I’ve gleaned during my time in the valley, and I will undoubtedly stumble. But, stumble as I will, I accept it. I mean, isn’t that the nature of peaks and valleys? Yet, bud by bud, and blossom by blossom, I will embrace that wiser, confident me, who waits in the wings and welcomes me with open arms — as though I never left. The warmth of the light emboldens me. Unlike Stella, I haven’t got my groove back (The reference is from an old 80’s or 90’s flick.), but I am sashaying my way there.