Thursday, June 19, 2014


THIS WILL BE A STRANGE AND PERSONAL POST, one that I write maybe as therapy, maybe as a way to express things that sooner or later we all face. I can't even promise that by the end of it, I'll offer any answers, or anything that will be worthwhile to any of you reading it. Maybe the answers are those that only come to us when we're ready to answer those questions for ourselves.

Yesterday, I took my mother to the Cross Cancer clinic, here in Edmonton. Previously, an x-ray had shown a shadow on her lung, and over the past month, she has been to see specialists and undergone tests to determine the cause. It turned out she has lung cancer, and yesterday, we were expecting to hear what we needed to do to fight it. We weren't prepared for what we were told. Apparently, her non-small cell cancer is between a Type 3 and Type 4, and other than radiation to try to shrink it, there 's nothing to be done for her. They gave her a year.

My mother, to her credit, is handling this better than I am. She even managed to crack a few jokes yesterday after that awful shock.

After I dropped her off at her house, I took the dog for a walk. I've been dealing with the idea of death, the need for it, the why of it. I've certainly been dealing with the reality of suffering and pain. If I were an atheist, it would be easy enough to dismiss it all, and just say this is the way things are. We live, we die, that's it, the end. But the thing is, I do have a basic faith that we continue to exist after we die. I don't believe this out of fear, or that it seems impossible to believe that there is no value to our lives, no learning involved, that once it's over, it's over. (Although maybe this is an intolerable idea to me.) I have this nagging belief that the universe makes sense, that despite entropy, there is some order to it all, and maybe it's an order I trust in. But over and above all of that, I've also had too many collisions with the spiritual world, brushes with the afterlife to not believe in what to me is proof of a continuing existence, which is likely bigger and broader than the one we already know.

So if that's the case and what I believe, why this grief I feel before my mother is even gone? Why this sadness, this terrible sense of loss?

I guess, no matter what you believe, or don't believe, it hurts to know you are going to be apart from the people you love, even if it's only for a time. (And even then, I'm not so sure about this. I think those in spirit are around us much more than we are aware, but there's the rub - most of us, most of the time, just don't have that breadth of scope to sense it.)

Where I came to with all this yesterday, as I walked the dog, was to ask if life is really worth it. Which when you think about it, is one of the most basic questions we can ask. Is life worth it, if only to lose it? Is love worth it, if only to lose it? Is anything, writing, working, playing, doing what we do day to day, becoming entangled in our small, daily concerns that we think are so important but that really aren't, especially when they are set against the bigger question of existence, of creation, and the loss of all of that, is any of it really worth it?

What I came to was this. The breeze was soothing, the sun was warm. The dog was happy, and I could smell lilacs on the air. The trees were thick and green with leaf, and the sky was blue. The day, that moment, was soft, and kind, and comforting, and alive, real, and immediate. And despite the  sorrow I was feeling about my mother and myself, it was worth it.

So, here I am, with no other answers than that. Whatever happens to me, to you, to my mother, to the world, there are times, when the sun, and sky, and breeze are worth it. And frankly, I don't care if this is an inappropriate post for a writing and editing blog, because in the bigger scheme of things, we all know other things are far more important.

- Susan.

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