Sometimes, it’s a phone call. One conversation that turns a beautiful day into a nightmare. You might know what I mean (though I hope to goodness you don’t): a phone call that cuts off the air. Words that land on your heart like stones. A message that leaves you without answers, and sometimes, without hope.
I got one last week. Even though a part of me knew it might come, it shook me like an earthquake. It’s a few days later and I still feel the aftershocks.
I want to put this bluntly, to write it quickly and directly so I can spit these words out and walk away from them: someone I love has terminal cancer. My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2013, went through chemo and radiation, then a successful Whipple operation. He had a difficult recovery but had turned a corner in the past couple months, feeling stronger and more positive about the future…until it came back.
This news comes with two competing desires.
The first: to guard the most painful, intimate feelings I have experienced. To deny them power by refusing to voice them. To turn inward, putting the rest of life on the back burner. To shut down.
The second: to seek community more than ever. To share some of what we’re going through, not to bring others into our pain but to offer understanding to even one person reading who might be going through something similar. To stoke the hearth of normalcy by continuing with life as usual, as best I know how.
My first priority remains, as ever, my relationships–starting with family. There are no words to express my gratitude that my job not only allows but encourages me to go home and spend time with these people who laid the foundation of my life. Time with my parents and my brother, and the friends I grew up with in Virginia, is the best cure I know for heartsickness.
My second priority is self-care. For all my good intentions, it’s something I often preach without practicing, but I know that I need it now more than ever. I found immediate relief in letting some responsibilities go in order to make space for more of it: taking slow walks, writing in a journal and cooking comfort food. Calling Jim to come over and give me hugs, losing myself in the frivolous details of a low-key 25th birthday party. Cooing over puppy videos, reading fiction. Tweeting like a fool as usual.
While I want to keep some semblance of routine, I know the coming weeks and months will bring great change. I can’t quite envision what life would look like without blogging…Jaybird has been my creative outlet, my community, my hobby and even my (very small) business for the past 14 months. Blogging has been part of my life on and off since middle school.
But I imagine that, for now, my life will be enriched by letting go.
I’ll still write, but I won’t follow a schedule or post a set amount of times every week…and I might disappear for awhile. I’ll still read your posts, my inspiring blogger friends, but I may not comment as often. I’ll still share silly and happy things, but I won’t promise every post will be full of sunshine.
I’ll be taking it one day at a time. Sometimes, that’s all there is to do.