Monday, July 8, 2013

To See The Glass Half Full

It has been a rough weekend at our house.  We knew that it was coming:  everyone who had any experience with this had told me that at some point in every chemo treatment, you hit a wall of sorts.  With my third round of chemo last Wednesday, we knew that things were going to continue to build up in my system and that there would be a chance that the wall was edging nearer and nearer.

But I didn't just hit mine, I slammed into it going full speed which is typical for me on so many levels.  It leveled me flat out for the entire weekend.

The thing is, though?

You get through it.  Bit by bit, hour by hour, the clock keeps ticking forward.  As the earth continues to turn on its axis oblivious to the agony of any one individual, what is potentially unbearable over the course of a few hours becomes history in the days to come, and then begins to vanish entirely from the line of your horizon.

As the hours tick, tick, tick forward and away from whatever it was that was so unimaginably large only moments ago, you awaken to find that that very same difficulty has already begun to be a memory that will soon be a far distant one.  Whatever seems unbearable in the moment is much more easily borne if you view it instead as a tiny snapshot moment.  It is merely a pinprick of light in an otherwise blazing sea of stars that represent each and every thing you have ever done or will do.  It is so filled with experiences and bits and pieces that make up the whole of who you are that any singular moment -- even a really devastatingly painful and horrible one -- does not eat up the rest like a voracious black hole if you put it in its proper, long-term view perspective.

What I have learned is this:  you can endure pretty much anything if you can find a way to make it small in your mind.  I have had to learn to stop magnifying the small, annoying little bits and pieces of lifetime detritus into something larger than they ever need to be, and instead focus on the happier and shiner moments of gratitude and joy that pepper the darker spots in between, to savor the blessings properly when they come my way even amidst the darkness.

Cancer may very well be rebuilding me as a glass half full person.

That is not to say that viewing the world in a glass half full way is easy.  Had you seen me curled into a tiny ball and sobbing this weekend, as all the little bits and pieces of this cancer fight fell in on top of me at once -- the loss of all my hair, the assault and ravages of chemo on every system in my body all at once, the fatigue and worry about what all of this is doing to our daughter all fell on top of me in a messy, wracking, sobbing heap this weekend.  Exhaustion coupled with physical misery is not a pretty picture.

I have tried so hard to not get to that point, because I feared that once I started crying then I would not be able to stop.  Life has other ideas, though:  it has a way of dragging you to your knees regardless of what you want, and so to my knees I went.

But amid all of that, I had an enormous welling of love.

My daughter would creep in to our bedroom and give me a tiny kiss and tell me she loved me whenever I would wake up from a long nap.  My husband, bless him, did load upon load of laundry, and watching him fold clothes while gently checking to see if I needed anything as I lay weakened and prone on our bed was one of the most heartfelt love letters I have seen in a long time.   My mother and her fiance brought food, driving a couple of hours in the rain, just to make sure I didn't have to worry about feeding everyone else in the house.  When I could finally summon the energy to sit up a little bit, I watched a movie that some kind soul had sent me in the mail, and actually laughed out loud for the first time in a couple of days.

It really is the little things, isn't it?

Working to see the world as a glass half full instead of empty has its benefits.  Things are a bit sweeter on this side of the viewpoint line.  And at the moment, the sweeter end of anything sounds awfully good to me.

(Photo via Jenny Downing.)

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