Perspective.

I wasn’t going to write this post today and I’m sorry if this one hits a little close to home for anyone. I’m sitting in my parents house waiting for the carpet cleaners to finish cleaning the carpets at our old house, but something is on my mind and it just won’t go away. So here I am to blog about it.

A blogger I have been reading since November’s Nablopomo 2006 found out today that after being treated for breast cancer a couple of years ago, she now has cancer in several other places.

Sepha has been on my mind for over a week now after she posted about her trip to Peru and a really positive post about coming home from there knowing what she wants to do next.

When I read it, I began thinking about trust. I trust my body right now, today. What if it let me down? It’s not just about cancer, anything could happen. Who would look after my cats if something happened to both of us, like a car accident? Who could I trust to do it the way I want it done? Pets are a big commitment, just as big as having children.

Then a few short days later she posted about her lymphnodes being palpable. I began thinking about my body and what it would mean to me to be in a position where I’d beaten cancer once and find myself possiby facing it a second time. I think I would be furious, terribly angry.

Today I checked her blog first thing and saw the news I did not want to see. You can read her post here.

I will not lie to you, I have spent some serious time bawling when I should be unpacking. I’m just so sorry, Sepha. Life is not fair.

Then I stop and think about the people I know who had cancer for a long time. My own Grandmother, who had cancer when she was 60, had radiotherapy and then lived till she was 85, when one day she decided to mop under the washing machine and slipped on a wet floor as she pushed it back into place, breaking her pelvis.

Soon after she was admitted to hospital they discovered she had bowel cancer. I think internally she had known it for a long time but she did not want to be told for certain, she did not want to let it change her. She just wanted to keep going as long as she could. I can understand that.

Would I rather not know, even if there was a chance it could be fixed and I could live a lot longer? I think so. This is why I put off having things checked out. This is why we all do that.

What I remember about my Grandmother is the joy she took out of each and every day she was here, the love she gave us, the ability she had to push herself even when she was elderly. She took us out all the time, to museums, to art galleries, to the beach, to all kinds of places.

She sucked the marrow out of life up until her last moments. I remember her coming to visit us from the hospital and looking at us so intently, like she was trying to fix the image of us in her mind before leaving us for good. The next day she slipped quietly away in the morning before any of us had a chance to get to the hospital. That would be exactly the way she wanted it.

The Other Half’s mother was told in the late 90s that she would not see Christmas 1998. She saw five more Christmas-es. I do not think any doctor should ever be putting an expiry date on someone like that. Some people, when told they will expire, do exactly that. Some people simply refuse to go when a doctor says they will go.

In fact we should not even ask “How long do I have”. None of us know that.

None of us know what the future holds for us.

I could get hit by a car later this afternoon.

It is up to us to take each and every moment we are given and make the most of it.

Are you living the life you want to live? If not, why not? How can you get there? What does it require? How unimportant are the material things when the end of your life is approaching? How important will it be that you live in a clean house, that your washing is done, that you sat for half an hour and watched the news which doesn’t affect you in a personal way? Would it be better to spend that time with family, friends, kids, pets?

The internet is important in some ways. It is our way to leave a lasting impression of ourselves here for future generations. It is a way to examine, to journal, to consider other points of view, to connect with people we may never have been lucky enough to meet in our real lives. But it is not the be all and end all.

There are many questions I will be asking myself in the future but my determination is not to waste as much time on unimportant things. Treasure each moment. Push myself to do the things I want to do, instead of the things I “should” do.

Those of you who I have met on the internet – you are all very important to me. Though we have never met in person it does not stop me from thinking of you as good friends. When things like this happen I feel this more strongly than usual.

I am thankful for whatever led me to you – or you to me. I am thankful you take the time to share your thoughts, experiences, and dreams with us all. I laugh when you laugh, I cry when you cry, I get angry when you get angry. I don’t believe any of that is wasted time.

I believe that working 60 hour weeks in order to pay a mortgage and have money for your children when you are gone is a waste of time. Will your kids remember the nice things they had, everything you worked so hard to give them at your funeral? No, they will simply be thinking “I wish we’d had more time together”.

I believe that you should do more things that make you happy. Whatever that is for you.

If your job is making you miserable, quit. Why waste a second somewhere you’re not happy? Cut back, shave your budget, make positive changes.

If your relationship is making you miserable, get the heck out of there. It is better to be on your own than with someone who isn’t making you happy.

If your home is making you unhappy, move. Go to the place you most want to be. It may mean sacrifices but in the end it is worth it, if it will make you happy.

If you own things that make you feel uncomfortable? Sell those things or give them away.

If your friends whine, complain, bitch, and make you feel like shyte, get rid of those friends. There are people out there who are better for you. Go and find them.

Take time out. Take a holiday at least once a year. Take a sick day. Take the kids out of school and go somewhere as a family. My Mother was always so worried about us missing a day from school. School teaches kids how to read and write, how to add things up, but one day off from that isn’t going to mean they can’t function in society.

As Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it“.

I’m going to ask you a tough question. Maybe some of you are up for answering it in the comments section, maybe some of you are not. In either case, at least answer it to yourself.

What is the one thing, right now, you wish you could change about your life?

Update – Sepha passed away Thursday 9 July 2009.

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12 thoughts on “Perspective.

  1. I have been trying to live my life without all this getting me down, which is why my mom thinks I’m not concerned about her cancer. It might make her feel better to know that I’m sitting in church praying all the time, but that’s only going to get me sick in one way or another.

  2. Nothing. Truly.

    Right now I am savouring my life – even the very ordinariness of it and the struggles I encounter along the way.

    My husband’s sudden death knocked the stuffing out of me, but I am still alive and I am going to live. I am going to love my children and endeavour to nurture them to enable them to savour this moment in time called life.

    Don’t put off treasuring the people in your life who matter most. Today may be all you have.

    Ali

  3. I wish my mother didn’t have cancer. I wish she hadn’t smoked for more than 50 years. I wish she could still drive.

    All that said, she was diagnosed nearly three years ago and is still doing pretty well.

  4. One day 5 years ago my best friend died! Aged 20 it was very unfair I thought.No warning or anything, just gone!

    I decided then I would not take any crap anymore and that life was going to be lead the way I wanted.

    I managed to follow that for a while and then I ended up slipping back into unwanted routines and ended up owning a flat becoming lonely and spending far too much money trying to compensate for unhappiness.

    I recognised this and made sure I went back to my old way of thought.

    Life always has tough, hard unpleasant moments but I think as long as you head in the right direction for yourself and your loved ones then you are doing something right.

    I have just reset my life by moving to Montreal, Canada from London, England on a one year visa (I’m investigating ways to stay longer) and I have an amazing partner who lights up my world (sorry for the cliche).

    Sadly I still have a few small reminders of the life I didn’t want to lead, but fell back into, such as some debt that I’m not in a position to pay back and taxes that need filing. But these are minor and I know as long as I keep myself happy and following the correct path things will get resolved at some point.

    Thanks for posting this post, most of the time bloggers don’t really get too personal and I know I certainly stay away from it for the most part on my blog but at times it is great to realise that all these people I interact with in this virtual world are real and live and breath and think just like me.

  5. I discuss this with God every night. I ask him to give me more to give. And he usually does. I have a wonderful family, daughter, grandchildren, great grandchild, siblings, husbands and some pretty remarkable friends for over 35 years,

    And now like you, I can’t believe the friends I’ve made here..thank you..your one of them…

    Life has been good. I had breast cancer three years ago in February and I hated reading the post, however, I know it to be true. One of the things, we all want when It’s time, and your right you never know when..is to be remembered. Your a good person and your kindness is immeasurable.

    Keep up the kind words and thoughts you pass on they are your legacy..and it’s hard to understand how you are perceived by your readers.

    Take it from me and others I read the comments you get…your doing a wonderful job. I’ll pray for your friend. Miracles do happen.

    Dorothy

  6. Now you’ve got me thinking. There are a few things I would change if I could (key words being IF I could), but the ONE thing? Hmmm, much thought needed here. Some things I’ve already changed, other changes may hurt people I don’t care to hurt.
    I had my own near brush with cancer almost 18 years ago. I’d put off having a pap smear forever and one day just went in for one. I was found to have pre-cancerous lesions requiring a hysterectomy. These lesions were in the final state of change before actually being cancer so I was lucky. One more year before discovery would have been too late for me as the lesions were widespread throughout my reproductive areas. I’d already had my babies so I was more than happy to have the hysterectomy. Since then my Dad has died from lung cancer, he smoked heavily all his life from age 12, and my Mum from bowel cancer, caused by the same improper diet which brought on her diabetes. Every two years now I have the necessary checkups to make sure I’m not going the same way. My parents were in their 70’s, but all ancestors back to the 1800’s lived long lives, so I’m hoping to beat my grandma who lived to be 96.

  7. I can’t think of anything I’d change necessarily. Somehow, I came with an inherent faith that I am where I’m supposed to be. That doesn’t necessarily mean it always feel good.. but I know that feeling good isn’t the sole purpose of my existence.

    It all works out.. as it should. I just stay in the stream.

    Peace,

    ~Chani
    http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

  8. I actually was up for a promotion and had 13 years seniority when I quit my job four months ago.

    I did it for exactly the reasons you talked about.

    Sometimes you just have to stop waiting for your life to begin because before you know it, it’s all over.

    Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

  9. This was a little too close to home for me and a hard read. I had breast cancer also and just got through a mastectomy/chemo/radiation last year. I am hoping for the best for your friend. I did look at the links but I will have to work up more courage before I can comment on her site. Cancer is such a scary thing. I will be keeping her in my thoughts and prayers though. Great post.

  10. I had such a rough childhood in terms of cancer. The only child of an only child, within 10 years I’d lost 3 grandparents and a parent to cancer, along with two friends to accidents, and it hasn’t stopped. I often slip into depression, and drag myself out by stopping, looking at where I am, where I want to be and working out what I need to do to get there. Then I do it.

    I must admit I haven’t looked at the links, I just can’t. I can’t even watch a movie where are parent dies without becoming a blubbering mess. I cry and wail weekly that I want my Mummy, and that it’s not fair. It’s not. It totally totally sux. I never want my kids to feel that.

    Maybe one day I’ll get past it. In the meantime I and on track to what I want out of live, and I’m enjoying (mostly) the journey along the way!

  11. Kirsten – it would be really hard for me to show how I felt in that situation.

    Ali – That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I am taking that advice – and treasuring the people who matter much more than I did before.

    Magpie – One thing we never have control over is the behaviour of others. Sad but true. :( It is good to hear she is doing well though. Like I said, I do not think a diagnosis should be regarded as an instant death sentence. I think some doctors do think that way.

    Cugat – Is this about the porn again? ;) The kissing bit, I mean.

    Forest – I think it is important for all of us bloggers to get a bit personal from time to time. This one was difficult to write and it did upset me to write it, but I had to get it out.

    Dorothy – I believe miracles do happen as well. I also believe one day there will be a cure for cancer.

    River – sometimes we cannot worry about the people we will hurt, if there is a change we need to make for us. I knew my parents would not love us moving down here. But I also knew we had to do it. I knew leaving my husband would hurt him, but I also knew I had to do it. If I had not done it I dread to think of where I would be now. Sometimes the hardest things to change, the things that make us emotional just to think about it, these are the most important. It is difficult to live through it, sure it is.. :(

    Chani – What about the wat? What about going to live in Thailand? If I handed you the money for a plane ticket to Thailand right now today would you be off to buy one, or would you stay in the stream you’re in now?

    Jon – Amen to that. :) I have quit jobs before without knowing where I would go from there, but it was important to get out before the negativity took me over completely.

    Teeni – it must change how you look at things, I think. For me it would make me change being so concerned with the minute, little, unimportant stuff. At least I think it would.

    Kin – I also become a blubbering mess during those movies. Depression is not a fun thing, I have been there a few times myself. I now know the warning signs and keep a close eye out for them. I’m sorry for your losses. :(

    Thanks for the comments all. ;)
    Snoskred

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