“…one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.”
― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
In the last few weeks I’ve been contemplating life. This mental wandering is not new territory for me. Car accidents. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A few times doctors have told me that I had to have this surgery, or that surgery, in order to continue living. Each time the death threat was years down the line. Each time I opted for the surgery. If pressed, I couldn’t say why. Life had never been so fantastic that I would fear losing it. Never one to contemplate suicide, mind you. Crashing God’s party without an invite just seems rude.
Still, the first part of my life did leave a lot to be desired. The third of five children in a lower-income family, it was my first duty to take care of the younger sibs. My mother and step-father were alcoholics, so physical and mental abuse were daily occurrences for all five of us. But I didn’t realize that until hindsight allowed.
This is not a unique story. Many other people have walked this path, and worse. Some came out better, some not so much. Some learn. Some didn’t.
For me, college was not an option, so I went for the next available way out. My first husband. He, too, had issues that inevitably crashed into mine. The fall out of the divorce seventeen years later was my first, true moment of introspection. Up to that point the days traveled past and took me with them. Childhood. Marriage. Two sons. Divorce. All happened without my thinking much in advance. I took comfort in the belief that this is the path the Lord laid out for me.
In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking way too much about all of this. The lump in my right breast became a signpost to reflection. The thing is, after all of the turmoil of my younger years, happiness is now my constant companion. There was a time I embraced life with a Pollyanna “it’ll get better” attitude, but now the joy is tangible. Life has gotten better. My second husband is a man who accepts me for all of my faults and all of the baggage that is me, and still loves me unconditionally. Four young grandchildren come to visit and share their unbridled, innocent joy. This is my life now. These are my reasons for living.
Once upon a time, I told my family if cancer was ever the diagnosis, I’ll let it take me. A lot has changed since then. Today, I cherish every breath allowed. I firmly believe in the spiritual realm, and somewhat look forward to joining it. This life is temporary. Our bodies merely suitcases to hold the soul as it passes the days until life comes to its end. Good, bad, or indifferent. But now, my life is a dream come true. The lump threatened to take it all away. Yes, we are all born astride the grave, dying since birth as it were. From the moment of our first breath, there is a date of death we are hurdling toward. But, I found myself praying that the date might still be years away.
After weeks of waiting, the call came. The screen read “Women’s Center for Radiology.” For a moment I hesitated. Perhaps hearing it in voicemail would make it easier to bear. Then I realized this call did not come from my doctor, as I was told it would, but from the Center. I snatched the phone up and answered. At first, the woman on the other end sounded distracted, which fueled my fear. Then, her voice smiled. (If you don’t know what that means, there is no other way to explain it.) She gave me the blessed news that the lump is benign. I tried not to cry from relief until after I ended the call.
The good Lord has seen fit to grant me another extension on life. Think I’ll throw a “Life is Good” party this weekend. My husband won’t mind.