This I Believe

Diana - Manchester, NH, New Hampshire
Entered on November 16, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: illness

This I Believe 11/16/06

My life changed in one second during a run on a busy street in 2004. I had a grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with lung cancer and brain metastases. I never had a symptom; I never had had a clue that my life would change forever. My youngest child had just graduated from high school and the other two children were discovering their places in the world. The family anger was palpable for months—cancer was my fault. I had ruined the equilibrium of our family unit—I was the former organizer, cook, chauffeur, and party giver, but now I needed help and I had never needed help before. I watched my oldest daughter get married and my youngest daughter travel to Ecuador. My family remained the independent units they had always been—talented , athletic, and creative. I was expected to keep up the image—indefatigable mom. I was grateful for the family’s independence but the family’s anger and denial were always under the surface.

I realized that this was my eventual death and that I was going to prepare. I volunteered at the local museum and I volunteered to drive people like myself who needed human contact and errands accomplished. It is amazing how kind people come out of the woodwork and that people who were equally scared would run away from you. They couldn’t think that life has a randomness—this had happened to me for no apparent reason and they certainly did not want to hear it from me.

I have since cultivated daily “Elijah Moments”—moments of intense awareness. There are cardinal families living in our bird feeders, a double helix rainbow that occurred during my daughter’s wedding, and a family of loons that live alongside a lake in New Hampshire. The leaves this 2006 have never been so bright and luminescent. So with Elijah moments accumulating, I feel that I have found the essence of what is important in life—each day, each second, and each celebration with my family.