Part of my current life is focusing on the here and now. Living in the moment. This is not a bad way to live life. Yesterdays are just that… yesterdays – fixed in time, unchangeable – never to return. Tomorrows are also just that… tomorrows – unknown – filled with possibilities but never guaranteed. None of us knows if we will be here tomorrow.
In many ways I have appreciated living in the here and now. It focuses you. It teaches you in very tangible ways to appreciate every single day. I can honestly say that every single day something interesting and somehow meaningful happens in my life. “Meaningful” in terms of something which impacts me and often those around me in a significant way. I don’t believe I am anything special in this regard – I think this statement is true of everyone. It just sometimes requires the “blinders” to come off via something like a cancer diagnosis for you to see these everyday meaningful interactions and not be distracted by the business of everyday life.
Living in the here and now, I don’t actively long for the past. I also don’t spend a lot of time thinking too far distant into the future. I’m doing my best to treat my cancer and I am working hard towards its cure but I now focus on appreciating what happens daily.
The normally separate time-space of past, current & future came crashing together for me during of all things, breakfast this morning. Facebook has a feature called “See Your Memories” which pulls up photos you posted in the past – to remind you where you were and what you were thinking about on this exact date in previous years. Most of the time these pop up they are kind of fun – a light-hearted trip down memory lane. Today’s was different for me.
April 25, 2012
This is the picture which was at the top of my Facebook newsfeed this morning. It is a picture from a family trip to the Redwood Forest of Mendocino County exactly 4 years ago today. Eleni was a little past her first birthday. The entire family was enjoying the forest together. I have always loved forests ever since I was a small kid (hint look at the top of this blog!). Living in a city for job reasons, I looked forward to the opportunity to bring our small daughters (Amelie was 4 1/2 at the time) to the forest to teach them to appreciate the peace and beauty (and fun!) they offer. I even dreamed of us maybe finding a way to move there. This was the first trip to the forest that Eleni was more than a little baby – the first time she could really begin to experience it. Moving there was a longshot goal but I was certainly looking forward to the girls experiencing the forest and non-city life as often as possible.
This photo was taken less than 6 weeks before my surprise CRC diagnosis. Our last Family trip “before”. In cancer, there is always a before and after.
It reminded me of so many things, captured in a single image frozen in time. How little Eleni was when I was first diagnosed. So little, she has no memory of “before”. A glimpse of a more carefree family life before everything changed in an instant. Memory of a time with simpler goals in life. This brought a rush of emotions this morning that hit like a brick.
Seeing it, I stopped living in the moment. I longed for the past. A past that like all pasts, can never be returned to.
As the day continued, my mood slowly turned around. With the help of others, I began to focus on all the incredible memories that I have had since this picture was taken.
Our lives changed in an instant less than 6 weeks after this picture was taken but… this picture was not the end of a story filled with good Father-Daughter memories… it was the beginning of one that has been generating memories for an incredible 4 years now ever since it was taken.
Yes, I have Stage IV CRC. Yes, I am undergoing biweekly chemo. But do you know how I spent yesterday afternoon? Maybe not in a forest – but I spent it teaching my now 5 1/2 year old daughter how to play soccer – just the two of us – generating the exact same type of good Father-Daughter bonding I was enjoying walking through that pre-cancer forest on April 25, 2012. Eleni, now approaching kindergarten, had a blast yesterday. Father-Daughter memories have and will continue to be made. Cancer… healthy… forest… city… In the big scheme of things, the details really don’t matter.
Surrounded by the business of Life, your daily interactions & memories with loved ones are probably meaningful in more ways than you realize. I had to temporarily long for my past this morning to remember the joys I have in my present. All of this via one random snapshot from 4 years ago today.