In 2014, when the doctor told me I had relapsed again, I thought to myself “I'm not even going to make it to 40” (there was an expletive in there—choose one and insert where you wish). I was just about to turn 37 and had already been blowing out birthday candles for four years with the same wish: “Another year of life” (please please please). Not making it out of my 30s was a devastating thought, and so when my 40th birthday rolled around, it was a real celebration. This one—halfway between 40 and 50—also feels significant.
Each year feels a little sweeter. I’ve seen another year of my nieces and nephews grow, I’ve had another wedding anniversary, I’ve grown to know myself more. Aging means that I’m alive. And it is sheer gift to be alive.
I did not initiate my own life. I cannot will it to continue each day (I still try). And ultimately, I cannot stop its end from coming.
When I can draw back a little from the daily doings of life, I watch myself with some amusement as I strive and work and want for so much. And I am called to remember the marvelous freedom that comes with realizing how little control I have over so much of my very own life.
Yet, there is much I can control and choose, and this is the work for me to do while I’m on the earth. Cancer gifted me with insights into my life and I’m constantly summoned to remember and carry them forth. Here are a few of them:
· To wake up—and stay awake--to my own life.
· That there is an interconnectedness that underpins everything and everyone.
· That I am not separate from anyone or anything.
· That I am responsible to and for this planet, and my neighbour, and my own heart’s wellbeing.
· To be me. Full stop.
· That being me is enough. Full stop.
· That a birthday wish made over candles is just the first spark in a year of living fully.
This year, I aspire to take action in things I can control and to relax with ease and trust in those moments when it seems I can’t control anything at all.
And, to have gratitude for the marvelous freedom that comes with both.
Welcome, Sweet Gift of 45.