I knew this time was coming, so, in the new year, I promised myself that I would be looking forward to being admitted to the hospital for a few weeks. I filled my calendar these last months, attempting more and more activities than I could reasonably integrate. I thought I would easily relax into nothingness once the opportunity came. But, my plan backfired. Days after being admitted I was still thinking about my “to do” list; my mind was cluttered with everything I should be or could be doing.
Why couldn’t I just rest? Like indigestion after a large meal, I refused to settle. I was still trying to devour all the happenings of the recent months. So many things I tried to stuff in, I was nauseatingly full. What a cluttered life…I wondered, does it really need to be this complicated?
My tendency to complicate life became even more clear on my sixth night in the hospital. I was struggling with a change of room, the lack of privacy, being chained to an IV stand, and having no control over my meals. I communicated to a dear friend that I was contemplating checking myself out of the hospital. He told me that I was not, and then asked: “Did you think it would be easy?”
I said “no”, but part of me did believe that it would be easy. That is how I talked myself into coming here. And, to be perfectly honest, it has been relatively easy or “uneventful” as the doctors are saying. I’m not having complications, and my side effects are minimal.
The difficult part is my own resistance. I look back on Saturday night and think about how leaving the hospital would have added layers and layers of complication to my life. I committed to doing this procedure and now I have to see it though. I also have many people around who committed to supporting me through this; it would be selfish to just drop it.
So, I sit in this process and accept it for what it is. I’ve tried many things to rid myself of this cancer and could not eradicate it. Now, I need to let the doctors do what they do to get me out of here successfully. I made the decision to come here and I need to trust that. Even though it may not fit into the typical vision of “wholistic” healing. I’m realizing it has its place in my life as a whole. My body can handle some poison; it has proven itself to be incredibly strong and resilient. It will get through this and find the balance it needs, along with the rest of me.
The drugs they gave over the first six days “cleaned out” my bone marrow. My mind also started to get cleaned out as I sat perched on the windowsill, gazing at the cityscape of Vancouver. It was exactly ten years ago, this week in May, that I first moved here. Even though I have come and gone from Vancouver many times in the last decade, it has been a hub that I circled back to again and again. Taking in the view from the perspective of Tower 15 may be a delight to my guests, but a torture for me. Looking down, I saw myself moving in circles throughout the city.; mindlessly walking the same paths again and again. The circles I travelled around the city were simply representing the circles I’ve been spinning around in life. Seeing the big picture in front of me was exhausting, but the wider perspective allowed me to see which pieces of my life fit and which do not.
With spring cleaning momentum, I reviewed the clutter in my life and saw that I had to leave some things behind. Without first lightening my load, I’d only continue to make the next steps forward more arduous than necessary. Not only, would my over-stuffed pack weigh me down, there would be no empty space to allow for the new things that may be needed for the trek.
Having a clear and defined procedure in the hospital allowed me to be more clear and defined about my life. I sent letters of gratitude and goodbyes to people who once held a place in my life, but no longer need to. As I followed my instincts of what needed to be removed from my life, more ease and certainty came as to why certain people or situations are not serving what I desire for my life.
On Monday, May 1st, my stem cells went back in. “Happy Birthday” the nurse chirped as she hung the bag of my stem cells that had been removed just two weeks earlier. Transplant day is marked on the calendar as “Day 0” – a fresh start. How fitting, I thought as I looked over at the calendar. May 1st is Beltane, which marks the return of the sun. The nurse had even drawn a sun in the box of May 1st. I’ll take that as a not so subtle reminder that timing is just perfect if I let it be. This is a time for me to nurture a new beginning, and I’d be silly not to take it.
I’ve often looked for reasons as to why things won’t work in my life, but it seems life is trying to carry me through with little resistance. It is my own resistance to flowing with the currents that can make it feel like I am drowning at times.
Life is really never “easy”, but it can be more simple. In any journey we should not carry more than what we need; to trust that what is required to move forward will be presented when the time is right.
I don’t know where the path is going to lead me, but I know the direction to take and the boundaries in which to travel. The journey will become more obvious as I trust that this path leads somewhere.
Photo: Michelle Leela Grace