In January, I entered my fortieth year, and notched #39 on the birthday belt. This being the last year I can hold title in my 30’s, I figured then that it may be a challenging one. Little did I know.
In mid-March, my uncle, whom I’ve been close with my entire life, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Stage 4, unresectable. About 3 weeks later in early April, I suddenly, and somewhat unexpectedly, lost my job. And exactly a week after that, I lost my German Shepherd, Maddie, again very suddenly and unexpectedly, to cancer. I had rescued Maddie as a year and a half old pup – she had graciously become the fearless protector of our family and home. She’d have done anything to spare me undue pain – including masking her own for so long that we were unaware of the tumors growing so aggressively inside her.
Here’s the good news! My uncle is fighting the good fight and has made great strides in shrinking his tumor and ameliorating many of the undesirable side effects of both the illness and its treatments. He remains positively focused, and he is confident in the continually advancing medical science of immunotherapy, which comes next in his treatment plan. The science of immunotherapy is advancing so rapidly, he tells me, that his doctors cannot even prescribe which treatments he will undergo next month – it’s too soon to know! For him, the alternative to beating cancer is simply not an option. He has a beautiful, loving wife, two amazing daughters on the cusp of the next phases of their lives – those that involve buying houses, getting married and starting families. He has a mother who’s punching off years in her 90’s like matches on a winning bingo card, and two sisters who know for a fact that experiencing life without him is not even a thought they can entertain for a millisecond. He shares mutual love and adoration with so many people, this being one of his greatest virtues.
I have yet to find my next big professional undertaking, but I remain confident that by persevering and remaining positively focused on the desired end goal, this transitional period in my life will serve out its purpose, leaving me better off than it found me. And as for sweet Maddie, though we constantly miss her dearly, I knew going in what the eventual fate was likely to be - given our respective lifespan differences. Though I wish she had expressed the discontent of her growing ailment so as to minimize her own pain, I respect the hell out of her devout desire to spare me from as much as she could. She was a truly amazing dog, and we are lucky to have shared our home and lives with her for the 8.5 years that we got. She never knew it, but she taught me so many important lessons about life. Just in her existence alone. I am so unbelievably grateful for the experience of being her mama and having her by my side during some of the most pivotal and poignant years of my life (the thirties).
As we’re now nearing the end of June and rounding out the first half of this year, you should know, 2018, that I heard you loud and clear and I did not lose the lesson even when I lost; if you could toss more kindness, maybe far fewer shock-inducing episodes, my way in the second half, that would be fantastic! And even if you don’t, I’m taking a page out of my uncle’s book – I will fight the good fight and continue to remain positively focused. When I look at gold, it’s the shining light reflecting back that I will see, not the metal. And in about 6 months when I greet #40, I will celebrate, with my uncle by my side. Numbers are just characters, after all. The obstacles and challenges life hurtles our way, with the intensity of a storm at times, are opportunities for growth; sometimes you’ve just got to shift your perspective a bit to see the glowing light bouncing back at you.