Immortality

I heard a woman in the Cancer Center waiting room today say to a man I assume was her father, “When I was 18, I thought I was immortal.” I thought the same thing, that I was immortal, at age 34, just before cancer flashed in front of my face and reminded me that I am not. And today, looking at the man I think was this woman’s father, I felt deep in my gut a sad realization that life passes by so quickly. I know this from watching Joey grow in no time from a chubby, cuddly baby into a long, lean five-year-old who is about to perform in a school musical this weekend. And from watching Danny, my second chubby, cuddly baby who asks each day, “Am I three now?” I tell him, “Not yet. In two months.” He asks, “Is it a long time?” and I tell him, “Yes, for you, it’s a long time,” all the while knowing that for me, two months is nothing but a just quick passage of time that will end with Danny’s third birthday and will make me long for the days when my babies were babies.

Life moves at a fast pace. I’m sure it did for this man in the waiting room. I heard him reminiscing about his younger days. I heard him say, “When I was the captain of a DC-3,” and he talked about flying planes and landing planes and airports. Today, this man is elderly. His skin is wrinkled; his posture is slumped. He looked fragile, and it made me sad to witness an image of aging, knowing this is what happens as time ticks on. And it made me sad to see him in the pink infusion chair, receiving treatment for an illness that is undoubtedly threatening the life that is already passing him by. But I am also inspired by this man who is fighting for those precious moments in life. He had no sadness about him. Perhaps with age comes a wisdom that the passing of time is an OK process, the way life is meant to be. And mortality comes with life (cancer or no cancer) and being reminded of it is not such a bad thing but a wake-up call to appreciate the teeny tiny moments that pass by so quickly. Like when Danny said to me last night at the dress rehearsal for Joey’s musical, “Mommy, you are pretty.” Or when I poured his cereal into a bowl the other day and he said, “Good job, Mommy!” So while I regret that my boys are growing so quickly and I am aging right along with them, I also would not trade these phenomena for anything. So when I have moments of sadness about mortality, I will focus on the gift of life that allows me to watch my babies grow up, however startling and swift the process may be.

I am thankful today for the glimpse of the man in the waiting room. I am thankful for the life I have with two little growing boys and one big boy who takes care of them while I receive my Herceptin treatment. And I am thankful for my Herceptin treatment and the fact that it is likely giving me more life than I may have had without it.

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