this morning before i thought about what i have to do today, before i meditated, before i stretched and got out of bed and peed, i counted the number of people i love whose bodies are dealing with cancer. the known number of my loved ones with cancer is nine but there are others who don’t know they have cancer yet, others who are ignoring symptoms and avoiding doctors and delaying tests. someone i love is having surgery today and before i visit her tomorrow i’m crying all the tears that will come so that i can smile at her when i walk into her hospital room. i’m afraid of walking into her hospital room tomorrow because i am afraid of seeing her in pain…or worse, i’m afraid of her pretending she isn’t in pain. it hurts me to see pain in her eyes and watch her struggle with a new tongue graft and a feeding tube rendering her unable to speak. i’m afraid that tomorrow’s visit might be the last time i see her. i’m afraid that cancer might take her before i return to austin to visit next fall. i prefer to know when i’m doing something for the last time. since i can’t know when the last time will be, i try treating each time as if it is the last time. living every time as the last time emotionally exhausts me, intensifying the joy but also preemptively beginning the grieving.
fear makes me want to run, to hide, to crawl back into bed. instead i do the next thing on my list of what needs doing and drink cup after cup of green tea, fantasy visualizing magical healing of everyone’s cancer with every sip. i cry while i work. i cry while i research and email and make phone calls. i cry while i heat water for another cup of green tea. eventually the tears pause. slowly i complete task after task and wonder if this is the way i want to live my life, if i’m spending my hours on the wisest investments of my heart. i stand up. i lift my arms overhead and lengthen my spine. i breathe. i consider my visit to see my loved one tomorrow and i cry again, but this time the tears streak love instead of fear. this time i’m sure i’m doing the best i can for the people i love. i am being my best me, even though i’m scared most of the time and i cry everyday and i fuck up a lot and i have too much stuff in my closets and i want to give more and be more and write more and love more. another hour begins, another cup of green tea steeps. i’ll give you everything i can. i’ll give you everything i am. i’ll offer you as much kindness and gentleness as i know how to extend. and i promise i’ll love you more tomorrow because my heart grows stronger every time i do anything i’m afraid to do.