Four years ago today I got a call that saved my physical body. I can rely only on my fading memory to travel back to that time when living day-to-day was a mental practice in both holding on and letting go; when acceptance wasn’t a choice but a but integral to my own physical and mental survival. Waiting for the transplant was a practice in patience in order that my life would continue, a practice in focusing the mind on the present moment rather than projecting out into the wide abyss of the unknown. Yet as I pause to remind myself of the daily life that continues, many of the same challenges exist, different only in shape and hue.
At that time there were never questions about life post-transplant, only fantasies. I didn’t allow the what if of inquiry to poke holes in the dream of life. So strong was my conviction that I would live on fully and with meaning that the smaller markers of time were not relevant in that story, my story of survival.
In between then and now four years have passed. Four years of regaining the trust of my son who didn’t understand why I went away for so long. Four years of adapting to the changing nature of relationships that may sustain one through hardship but change through recovery. Four years of pulling myself out of the darkness and forcing myself into the light, even in times when I was nowhere near ready to open my eyes to it. The what if questions have slipped back into my dialect and add to the dynamic tension of holding on and letting go; the delight of dreaming big and fear of failure.
If I have learned nothing more, over these four years I have learned that there is both darkness and light in each of us and in every story. This is what creates landscapes of depth and beauty; it is the tension on which our existence of form and spirit is based. The challenge in life is not to wade, swim, dive or force oneself to move between the two, but to find balance in the presence of both. Finding the joy of the creative process of playing with the duality of shape, pattern, hues and form can set one free from favoring one from the other; they are both necessary for sight.
From and through our hardships we come to remember togetherness and interdependence.
Today I stand a different woman than I was four years ago. I am stronger physically, but more vulnerable; less deluded about my own limitations and potential, and more understanding of the long-term process of healing. I have stood in murky waters and as I now stand on the other side of 45, I have seen with clarity and depth that the titration process is organic and ongoing. Clarity and clouds move like the patterns of the sky; they come together, change and dissipate. Darkness and Light.
The darkness is the canvas in which the cosmos are born.
As I stand on the threshold of my 4th year post-transplant, it is a time to renew my gratitude and vow to my donor to use this body for goodness for as long as I have it. Time to reflect on what I am creating in and around me, to remind the people in my life that I love them. Despite all my imperfections, I do the best I can to live honestly, to not look away but to stand up for what I believe in and protect those that are unable to protect themselves. I am, as ever, a work in progress and as long as I have a body, a source of darkness and light. May we all learn to play in the creative process of integration.