i recently read an article written by a parent whose child was killed in Sandyhook. in it, she said something so profound: “somewhere on the continuum between overwhelmed and overcoming—that is where a griever lives at all times.”
today marks 5 years since i was diagnosed with breast cancer. in that universe of grief, i feel both like overwhelmed’s bottom might drop out and on the cusp of overcoming. time goes quickly, it goes slowly. it’s nuanced and complicated. it’s a giver and a robber. in my check up with my oncologist last week, we brushed over this. really anymore with many kinds of breast cancer, there isn’t a magical clock that starts ticking, as the medical community is starting to see distant recurrences, 7, 10, 20 years after an initial diagnosis. and with my more recent diagnosis on my left breast, i’m unsure where to even begin. it seems one is never out of the clear. we’re all chasing life, or running from death. as i’ve said before, it feels both gravitational and refreshing to have a better sense of how i might die. but as i’ve also said, i’d be really sad to die.
i think it’s important to mark the passage of time, with ritual, with myself, mike, my family and friends. those rituals are symbols of the deep work we’re all doing all the time on showing up as a human being. i just finished a book called Tribe by a war correspondent who is trying to understand PTSD and why we’re spiraling into unhappiness writ large. he had an experience with a Native American Tribe that was around grief and reintegration of warriors into the whole community. of the experience, he said, “America is a largely de-ritualized society…but the spirit of community healing and empowerment that forms the basis of these ceremonies is certainly one that might be converted to a secular modern society.” he went on to say that “Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it.” Because it gives purpose, builds community, finds commonality in our shared human experience, reminds us that underneath the labels we give ourselves and each other we’re all the same.
anyway, i’m not sure what i’m trying to say here. i have gone back through past blog posts recently and partly am in disbelief that any of this happened, and that i’ve share so many personal details with you. i let you in and you joined me. i discovered ritual in writing and listening to what you had to say. i found community in the universe of grief with you, because you’re all bearing a cross too.
i will never say i’m grateful for cancer, that asshole motherfucker. but i will say i’m grateful for some things that came in spite of cancer. thank you for hanging out in the continuum with me.