Lachlan at Lake Tahoe

the adored one

The Adored One

The Adored One

What a week!  I have a cold.  Chemotherapy was scheduled for yesterday and today, then today and tomorrow.  My white blood cell counts are not behaving at all.  They keep disappearing (fighting off the cold, no doubt)!  If I don't have enough whites (above 1000 per some measure is enough, they tell me) I don't have enough to withstand the chemo drugs.

There is a countdown going on, of course.  It wouldn't matter if my white blood cell numbers were low except that I want to take "the adored one" (my grandson, Lachlan) to Hawaii with Murray and me on March 30.  I had hoped, and the doctor and I had planned, for me to do chemotherapy this week so I'd have next week to recover and feel glorious the following week in the sun on Maui.  As the poet Robert Burns wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."

As those of you who have been following this narrative know, I'm reading Awakening Joy and taking James Baraz' course with the same title.  In the margins of this coming week's chapter, "The Bliss of Blamelessness," I have written about my lifelong belief (normal and comical now, I know) that I have acted up to now as if I am immortal.  I have also posed the question in the same margin: Can humans truly accept that they will NOT live forever before their bodies tell them in some incontrovertible way that this is true?  OK, let me ask it in a simpler way: Can we know we will die before our bodies tell us we might do so at any moment?

I don't think I'm going to die from chemotherapy.  But undergoing it has certainly raised the possibility.  I think my body's knowledge might also explain my anger, no rage, at the people and things around me.  Huh?  Well, if I am immortal that means in some way that I am divine (I'm truly embarrassed to write this, but OK, I'm getting naked here).  If I'm divine, I have some spark, some seed of God.  Maybe not so weird and embarrassing.  I do believe we all have this.  Yet being mortal, therefore not divine, this spark will die.  OK, I don't believe that.  Good to figure out, I guess.  I believe that our sparks live on in others, in their memories of us, in our works, and in ways we will never know--but if we could, would surprise us.

What's changed for me this week is that I truly GET that I can't jockey for position as "the best patient" or "the person most deserving of a gold star in chemotherapy."  I can't even control my white blood cell count!  I can't have chemotherapy on my schedule, can't be assured that I can go to Hawaii (or not).  I can't DO anything about any of this.  And I can't blame anyone or anything for my inability to control any of this.  OK, I can.  But even I know that this robs me of whatever time I have--10 days or 30 years--to be IN my life, not trying to manipulate it so it works out just right.  What's just right anyway?

So I'm guessing you all know this.  I'm guessing you wonder why it has taken me 7 decades to let go of trying to control every outcome in my life.  Maybe you don't ALL know this.  Maybe you'll consider your own ability to control your life if something like my experience this week rings true for you.  I'm at peace today.  I may take up the whip tomorrow and try to herd those cells into submission, or at least an appearance!  Later today I may try to talk my doctor into giving me permission to get on a plane with my 10 year old precious grandson.  For now, I am glad and grateful to be home where I have cold medicine, a comfortable bed, a beautiful deck overlooking San Francisco Bay, and acceptance of who and what I am in this moment.