When I was told chemo was about to be added into the strange mix of diagnosis and treatments, it was not a pretty day, that June day. It was a day where I desperately needed to hike… fast, hard, do something with the craziness of what was building inside me, by myself, in nature, connect, breathe: That had worked with the initial simpler diagnosis, before the two surgeries. I had fast walked miles and miles on a sandy beach, tossed myself down and stared at the sky, and eventually drew symbols and hearts and magical images in the sand. It was a crazy walk… the next day my legs ached dangerously; high tailing it through mushy sand for miles is extreme. But the physical movement in nature took priority beyond what my body thought it could do. And it led me to a space within myself where I could call my daughter at the end of the walk and say, “I’m okay now. Really. I am really okay. “
The diagnosis kept ‘upping ‘ itself, though, from simple to rare to rarer…and the one where extensive chemo evolved into the mix.. ya, not a pretty day. I drove to my nature spot to find it was flooded with spring waters. I drove there, only after convincing my daughter who had come to that doctor’s appointment and suffered in shock along with me, asked “Are you sure you can drive?”
She’d suffered with me through that appointment. I stopped hearing the doctor when I realized my brain could not even comprehend the numbers he was telling me … the months and months and months and months of chemo, when chemo hadn’t even been an option for the type of cancer I had until this moment this doctor revealed a rare twist in a gene test. I was trying to calculate those numbers in my notebook, but it all made no sense… just numbers haphazardly written randomly on the page that would not process.
The doctor said, “You have all been through a lot.” She looked at him and said, “From the day my mother’s mom died when she was nine, she has been through too much.” I couldn’t counter that comment with ‘Oh, yes, but you know how much joy I can feel…” Not today. She was right. Too much shit. This, so soon after my other daughter’s healing from cancer. Telling that daughter this latest news was incomprehensible. And in between her and I, a scare with my granddaughter that lasted far too long. It was too much.
But I told her I could drive. And when I reached my place to hike and it was flooded, I already knew I couldn’t keep driving. What it took to get there was fast.. far too fast, wild, had to get there, had to get there.. had to release this craziness exploding in me, and it was dangerous.
Now I was angrier…my nature spot had failed me. I picked up a baseball size rock in the graveled parking lot and threw it at a tree. Then another and another. Fast. Furious. Intent to injure.
“I’m throwing rocks at trees!” part of me recognized. I’d never throw rocks at trees. But I kept throwing because throwing the rocks into the brush was not enough. I had to hit the trees.
Strangely, I began to feel like the trees were conspiring in this devastation… like I could hear them goading me on, “Hit me with your best shot. Come on, don’t be a wuss.”
“Really? Call ME a wuss?” And I threw harder.
I had the thought that it would have been quite a video. Crazed woman ranting, ‘Seriously? What the fuck?” and other choice phrases. Frantically on a mission of clearing the entire parking lot of baseball size rocks. Panting, exhausted, but still throwing. Her dog stopped in his tracks after he realized this was not fetch they were playing…he was stunned, in fact, perched by the car – perhaps guessing that I wouldn’t throw rocks at the car. Honestly, I don’t even remember why I had the dog with me. That really makes no sense. Did I really go home and get him after the appointment? Crazed, I was, because I just don’t know.
And if the video could have captured those trees…egging me on. Telling me that what we believe to be true, isn’t. Telling me they were there for me. Slamming them with rocks intending to do damage was good for them, contrary to all that we learn about nature. Hinting that this was more fun than they’d had in awhile… but when that made me even angrier, they took it back. But I could see their great strong spirits pretending it wasn’t fun… because they were loving that they could play this role.
When the baseball size rocks were all cleared, could I say, “I’m okay. Really, I’m okay now.” No. But I can look back on this and know those trees were showing me what would help me through this time…parts of me that existed and could be called upon: strong, spirited, playful, responding contrary to what one might believe to be the way one ought to respond.
And that is where I really was heading with this … to write about how creativity, playfulness, magic and practicing the art of EXTREME ‘doing what feels good right now’ is getting me through this. Alas, it seems this story wanted to be told first. And looking back, there was magic in this.