This morning as I let my body sink into savasana after my yoga practice, I played a song by Brandi Carlile. Her powerful voice gently lulled me into the earth, and as I felt my body sink into a haphazard relaxation she sang, “I’m beginning to feel the years, but I’m going to be okay, as long as you’re beside me along the way.”
These words felt particularly profound to me because I’ve been remarking very deeply on time lately. Yesterday I realized that today was the 6 year anniversary of the fateful MRI that finally helped me understand why I was plagued by headaches and a wonky balance system since I was a teenager. And in fact, I am beginning to feel the years. I feel tired, I feel in pain, I feel like it should be impossible that my team of doctors is still urging physical therapy 2 years after my last surgery, I feel annoyed that I can’t trust the result of the spinal fluid tests, I feel a lot. But I also feet grateful and joyous and alive. I feel silly, and funny. I feel loved and able to love. I feel really damn lucky too. This tumor was like my invitation into a world of suffering bodies and not all of them emerge. Just as we all will eventually have to, many of the friends I’ve made along the way have graduated on to whatever it is that awaits us, even if that is just a quiet mystery.
But I was struck most by the second line she sang as I urged my tired muscles to release tension and allow my body guide my mind towards solace. “I’m going to be okay, as long as you’re beside me along the way.” Despite my best meditative attempts to keep a mind that flits thoughts away as they come, I was flooded by how many people have been and are beside me. It was as though I was immediately being surrounded by so much love, so much care, so much compassion. I felt my husband, just as I heard him cough from the next room over, his fervent loyalty, love, kindness and care allowing my tense shoulders to relax. I felt my sisters, each making me laugh and making me brave. I felt my brother, strong and protective even as he wages his own recovery and journey through chronic pain. I felt my growing list of siblings, their parents, the new additions from our growing family. I felt my friends, my family of choice, and the various ways they love me, each with a unique love language. I felt the loving kids in my family, earnest and genuine, with their untarnished, unconditional love. I felt my parents, my beautiful, ardently supportive parents that, even as they are faced with cancers and wage embodied battles of their own, never stop showing up for me. The parents that never give up on me, no matter how confronting I can be while in the ravages of anxiety. I felt it all. I feel it all. I feel all the years of pain and joy, all at once.
Time is a funny thing because we often start life thinking it is boundless, endless, and full of possibility. In many ways life is rife with unending possibility, but the trauma of disease often confronts us with the reality that it both is and it isn’t. Life is short just as it is long, and we have to live in that uncertainty. Disease or no disease, none of us know how long we’ve got, and this is something I came to terms with for myself but as I reflect on the years of my life, I struggle hard to accept for the people I love. Time is a funny thing, the way we feel it and the marks it leaves on our heart goes well beyond our foresight.
And though I feel so much, I feel light.
I am indeed beginning to feel the years, my pain from this and from life has been profound and I feel it every day. The frenetic energy of our world threatens the work I’ve done to manage the trauma I’ve faced, but I am also okay. I am more than okay, because I am constantly loved, in so many ways, by so many people. I love hard and with my whole heart. My dears, I love you so.
It’s been six years, I’ve felt them all, and I am monumentally grateful for that.
Thanks for sticking around to see me through. Cheers to that. And cheers to more years, cheers to whatever it is we’ve got.
Peace and love,