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.