In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”
At What age you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?
When I saw this prompt, it really did make me think.. I made a thermos of tea, packed a cut lunch and set off into the long forgotten parts of my memories and fossicked around until I could find the filing cabinet that held my childhood memories.
I am not sure that I ever thought that I could live forever and really do not believe that as a child gave it much thought at all. I do remember seeing the circle of life and the good and bad it could bring when my parents took to training, showing and breeding German Shepherds. Without even thinking, I was being shown how life “just is” and that it is not always fair and that it can but certainly does not always work out the way you planned it and that is where the adventure of it all is.
When I became a mother it was immediately obvious to me that I would lay down my life, without question for my son. Even today with him now almost 22, it is still just as true. It is something I have always known but cannot remember if it is something that I have ever discussed with anyone else.
In November 2004 when at just 38 years young I was told “You have breast cancer” my life went into a total tail spin. Firstly because it was cancer and secondly because I have never EVER been exposed to anyone close who had been through cancer and had totally zero idea about it.. So my obvious conclusion was that I was going to die and soon. The reality that I understand now is that breast cancer contained to the breast is not what kills you it is only when it turns to Secondary Breast Cancer (moves to distant parts of the body, organs and bones) that there is no cure.
But that does not take the fear away at the time. You think of your family, your friends, your life, your work, your pets, your treatment and all it will bring and you think about your whole world and without knowledge you are scared, so very scared. Even when you begin to learn about the disease that has decided to take up residence in your body you can conquer your fear to a point but it is always there, in the back of your mind, just waiting for you to open the filing cabinet and let it out. It can be a simple trigger such as a visit to the doctor, a test, the anniversary date or an annual followup mammogram. Each person is different.
It is when you deal with a life altering event that your perception of life changes. I certainly did. Life is what you make of it and it is not a test run. Waiting for it to be perfect means you will be chasing your tail forever. I learned all of this and then in an attempt to file it all away to move on I almost forgot it all. The rat race that can be life took over once again and it soon all became just a memory stored in another one of my filing cabinets.
As you can imagine, arriving at my 8th anniversary checkup with a perfect mammogram result meant that I was feeling good and confident that it was just another appointment. How wrong I was. By chance a cracked rib (from coughing no less!!!) and a rather nasty and long lived cough meant there needed to be some scans to exclude any serious issues from the equation. Even right up until the moment I heard the words “You have Secondary Breast Cancer – and we can treat you but cannot cure you” I truly had no idea it was going to play out that way. I had always endured coughs that hit my chest and caused issues for sometimes months.
On the 7th November it will be 3 years since hearing those words and yes, I am still here despite having unwelcome squatters in my bones and liver at the moment (and previously in my right lung, nodes and ovaries). My mind is now in a different place all together. I have always known that I would not live forever but always figured that if I looked after myself well enough that I would get to 80 and live a good life whilst getting there. Cancer never came into my thoughts before it first showed up in 2004.
Family, friends, animals, insects all creatures great and small. Everything dies at some point, no matter how much you love them. It is the circle of life. It can be sad and it hurts many people. It can leave a hole that never heals. I am accepting of my future passing. My pain comes from not wanting to leave my husband and son. They are my world and as far as I can see it, no time soon is the right time but it will not be in my power in the end.
The question that has come to my mind is not why can’t we live forever? or why can’t we live longer? But it is how do I live now and enjoy life and those I choose to surround myself with. Is not living forever being remembered by those you love?
Nobody has the clock that will show them when it will wind down and stop ticking. That is not in our power. Some days it can be like there is very little going on inside me and I can do lots of things (in moderation) and other days, just getting out of bed is a serious challenge. I no longer (well mostly) get frustrated with myself for not achieving everything on the agenda. That alone has been a seriously huge adjustment for an organizational entrepreneur such as myself.
It took a while to sink in and even now I may have days of frustration, fatigue and sadness I still have not had a day where I am angry about the fact that I woke up one day and found myself living with squatters. I work hard on having way more days that are warm, loving and interesting it is a hard task some days but so very well worth it.
It is not an easy path to tread but I cannot change it and at every possible opportunity I make the most of it and live life to the full (and yes the definition of “full” can and does change on an almost daily basis!!!).
Life is what you make of it and the time is secondary to the way you choose to live it – I understand that so very well now. That being said, I do not plan to go anywhere anytime soon as my squatters are not the boss of me. Besides, I have too many photos to take and share around.