all we have

Some days, being a nurse in oncology exhausts me to the core.

No, I don’t know if you will puke, if you will have diarrhea, if you’ll get an infection. I don’t know if your cancer will come back, if your tumor is bigger, if the chemo is working, if the cancer is in your liver, your bones, your brain. I don’t know if you’ll live to get married, or to see the ocean again, if you’ll be able to have a baby, if you’ll see your grandchild graduate high school.  If you’ll bury your spouse, or if your spouse will bury you. I don’t know if you’ll die in 6 months, 12 months, 12 years.  

Clearly, I don’t know much.

But in this tiring day in clinic, I had the blessing of caring for a patient who has been through every permutation of chemotherapy known to (wo)man for breast cancer, who looked me straight in the eye and said:

I know I’m going to die.  But I’m going to enjoy the life that I have, however long that is.  

She meant it.  She’s ready for the inevitable, but she’s grounded in the present.

We are so busy making plans for a future that may or may not come.  We grind away at jobs in order to get rewards down the road, we delay the telephone calls, the new dress, the vacation. I’m not saying that planning ahead is a bad thing, but it must be tempered with a grounding energy and a dedication to this very moment:

Take a breath. Feel your chair beneath your body, the ridges on your keyboard.  This is all there is, right now.

So own it.

7 thoughts on “all we have

  1. missjacquejoy

    I don’t like this… I love this! I’m owning every moment of every day!!! What an awesome woman. (Your patient and you too!) Hers is the kind of response that makes me want to jump up and down and scream, “Yes, she gets it!! She totally gets it!!” Awesome post today.

  2. Martha Goudey

    I am bed-bound–for a couple of weeks anyway, and off my foot for six weeks recovering from foot surgery. It was elective to correct a foot deformity. It’s to help me walk again. It’s painful and literally a pain in the butt. But…It’s not cancer. It’s not MS or Lupus. It’s correcting a problem. I’m so grateful. But when I feel like jumping out of my skin because I can’t move about on my own and need my husband to dump my shit, … I will lay back and feel the bed beneath my body, my hands on the keyboard, and breathe…thank you. Thanks for the reminder this day.

  3. Heart To Harp

    One truth I know: Don’t postpone joy. Which can only be found in the present moment. Thanks for a wonderful post.


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