"Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"
--- Mary Oliver
Today, February 4, marks a Very Important Day that I celebrate each year: the anniversary of my final chemo treatment.
This year . . . (for the first time) . . . this day kind of snuck up on me. (Because, you see, I'm not Thinking About It all the time anymore.) (Like I did for the first four years.) Although I knew my anniversary was coming up, I wasn't really thinking that I needed to mark it in any special way.
Until . . .
Ted died last week.
When I was going through chemo, I formed a "posse" -- with two other kindred chemo spirits. Ted and Joel, people I already knew, were diagnosed with similar kinds of cancer right at the same time I was diagnosed. Together with our spouses, we socialized while we were in treatment. Later, when our remissions set in and we were all back to Living Our Lives, the "posse" didn't ride together anymore. But that bond was still there. Y'know?
But Ted's lymphoma came back. And now . . . he's gone.
I only saw Ted once during this past year, but I do know that Ted filled his last year with living. He did all the things he loved best. He didn't waste any time. He didn't just "breathe a little" -- he took big gulps of air.
So, against that backdrop, I'm celebrating my sixth anniversary. I'll admit, Ted's dying has me a little freaked out. It brings it all a little too close. But it also adds perspective. Now, it just seems a little more important to me that I mark this day . . . by thinking about how I might be able to take bigger breaths.
Here's what I'm going to do today . . . to mark this occasion:
- I'm going to FILL MY LUNGS . . . by going outside . . . where the air is cold and clear . . . and I'm just going to breathe.
- I'm going to BREATHE HARD . . . by working out and working up a sweat and going into oxygen debt.
- I'm going to TAKE A DEEP BREATH . . . by challenging myself to commit to a couple of things I've been thinking about trying.
- I'm going to EXHALE . . . and just keep purging all this . . . stuff . . . I really don't need anymore.
- I'm going to STOP HOLDING MY BREATH . . . and just start something lovely . . . by ordering some Loft and casting on for this sweater.
And then, I'm going to celebrate with Tom at dinner tonight by making a toast . . .
To taking big gulps of air.
And calling it a life!