Thursday, July 2, 2009
The bridge of life ...
Today is the two year anniversary of when we lost our beloved Shadow to intestinal cancer. I share a video i created shortly after he died, celebrating his life, through Ahnung's blog. He was first diagnosed with intestinal cancer on June 18, 2007. We were told it was an aggressive cancer ... our decision was to make his last weeks as comfortable as possible. After two weeks of sleeping with him downstairs on the couch as his body fought desperately to ward off cancer cells that had ravaged his body.... I realize now, his fight to hang on a little longer was for my partner and myself; he was giving us time to accept that it would soon be time; he was giving me the time I so desperately needed because of how quickly Shen was taken from us just eight months prior, also to cancer. Early July 2, 2007 he made it clear to me by digging a hole in a bush in our backyard by the memorial stone that read "if tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, i'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home again." It was a stone I bought shortly after the passing of my first dog.
Yesterday morning at 6:40 am, I pulled into the parking lot across from Fairview Southdale hospital for a 7 am appt for a breast MRI. As I was sitting in the waiting room, I became aware of how a five letter word "cancer" has moved to the forefront of my consciousness. I found myself thinking of Shadow, his upcoming 2 year anniversary -- how we lost him to intestinal cancer; how we lost Shen to spleen cancer; and how just last week I learned of a close family friend and my childhood bestfriend's younger sister dying from cancer; I also remembered my dear friend Elaine whom we lost to breast cancer on April 17th. Here I was in the waiting room, getting ready to take a test -- one of many more to come -- to see if any of the abnormal cells in my body had turned to cancer. A kind, gentle nurse came to get me from the waiting room. She explained every step of the procedure, from putting an IV in my vein so that they could push "contrast" into my body that would highlight abnormal cells in the images ... to the amount of time I would be spending in the "tube", the noise, the importance of laying still, the emergency button I could press if I couldn't stand it anymore and had to get out ... and all the while how she would be communicating with me the entire time.
I am laying face down with ear plugs to drown out the loud noises The nurse Linda asks "are you ready?" as she gently touches my left arm ... connection and reassurance from that simple touch. I say "yes". She lets me know she's leaving the room. A minute later I feel myself shifting ... I can't see anything but all of a sudden feel the air tighten around me. I know I must be in the tube. There's less air around me and for a couple minutes I feel my heart rate rising and panic sets in, "I can't do this for 30-45 minutes! I have to get out!" At that moment, I realize I have a choice and I start talking to myself, "Breathe. Imagine yourself scuba diving in the open water with dolphins and turtles. Breathe." I reach out to my father and ask him to stay with me through this. He does. And in less than 5 minutes I have crossed a bridge where I have left panic and entered a state of calm ... and in the ensuing 40 minutes i experience all of the following: loud noise that sounds like gun shots and clicks, my body vibrating from the machine, waves piercing through my body, moments of eerie silence, and a cold sensation radiating through my veins as the "contrast" is pushed into my body through the IV in my left arm. Yet through it all, I am calm, and I am grateful for the calm.
There are many bridges we will encounter through our life. Yesterday morning, I had a chance to cross the bridge of facing fear and panic and reaching deep within myself to find a place of peace. We are capable of so much more than we often think we are ... our minds are extremely powerful. We have the ability to create and build whatever web of life we want .... and some day, we will all cross the final bridge as Shadow did two years ago today, and Elaine did a little over two months ago. My wish, is that when that day comes for me, whenever that is, that I will cross the final bridge with the same level of grace, peace and acceptance. It may be the "final" bridge in a world we live in now ... deep down, though, I believe it is the bridge of eternity.
Today I leave for the Philippines to pick my mom up and bring her back to the States. Soon I will be reconnecting with relatives back home and building a new bridge with my mom.
My wish for today: May we embrace life and consider every "challenge" as an opportunity to build or cross a bridge. May we nurture our roots and plant seeds so that the web of our lives are far-reaching with tentacles touching the hearts and souls of all beings ... in all planes of existence. And may we bend, flex and embrace all that life offers us as we leap forward to reach beyond our comfort zones.