Mariya has been here for the past few days. For a person who loves family time, I am doing pretty damn well. Nothing like looking across the table at our two beautiful grown daughters to make the air feel like dancing. Together, Mariya and Elena have cleaned and organized our overwhelmed life, cooked and nursed and chauffeured and generally been super stars. This also allowed Steve to get up to the island for a couple of days—something he sorely needed, just to get away from cancer and do something different.
We spend many hours at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, getting chemo, blood, platelets, spinal taps. But we have time left over to discover magnificent old trees in the Maple Leaf neighborhood and to take pleasure in the rocketing beauty of the Northwest spring. These days are quiet. The patina of chemo covers everything I eat, so I have learned to eat despite my inclination to not bother. But there are also so many good moments here.
I played an old Kate Wolf song the other day. It seemed to sum up what I am feeling. “We’ve only got these times we’re living in.” No one can make their life go exactly according to plan, but we can consciously inhabit our given time. Out the front window, the magnolia tree across the street is bursting with blooms. We had one of these “tulip” trees in my magical backyard when I grew up. This intimate space felt miraculous because it was so alive, pregnant with fruit trees and soaked with birdsong. I want this memory, and feel much gratitude toward this tree for reminding me that much of what was special during that time of my life was my attention to the “poetry of reality” (Richard Dawkins invented the term). It is something I had naturally as a kid, but everything in my adult life is slanted toward a more virtual reality. In a very real way, having leukemia gives me the opportunity to have time enough to be utterly enchanted by flickers and chickadees in the city, and to feel the preciousness of their existence.
Beside SCCA/hospital routine, life continues, even blooms. There are long conversations about all manner of topics with my family members that more often than not, merge tears with laughter. Steve’s stoic efforts to cater to a suddenly picky palate sometimes hits us hard and sometimes cracks us up. Amazing supportive and loving cards and gifts and notes from friends and community keep finding their way to me, everyday. Each family member has had to learn to give me a nightly shot until finally, inspired by their grit, I had the gumption to do it myself. I greeted my bald reflection in the mirror and impulsively said “hi Dad”. Coming back to meditation, I am reminded every day about what really matters.
Doctor says I am doing “good”. This means hospital, for second round of chemo-Group A. Friday or Saturday–April 12,13. What I experience now will sustain me then.