I’ve been putting off updating this blog. Putting off taking words to paper (computer screen). The past year has been so life-altering. Putting even parts of it on paper seems to make it real and I really hate to upset this very joyful balance that we have recently found. To be honest I’ve been enjoying the peaceful afterglow of absolute chaos. A year’s worth of chaos and change all culminating to this place. When I really think about it, it’s way more than a year’s worth of chaos. This suitcase has been with me for some time and I’ve finally started to unpack it. Feels like a dream. A little too good to be true. But, the past year has taught me that maybe we should just revel in these little miracles instead of waiting for the bill. Maybe a big strong inhale – grateful and blessed right now in this moment better suits a joyful life? Suck it in.
A year ago this month – I had the opportunity to head to Peru with an organization called A Fresh Chapter. I leapt at the opportunity and with the help of a whole lotta generous souls I found myself in a whole new world in Lima, Peru. For two weeks, I was far away from my everyday reality and surrounded by 23 others affected by cancer (my tribe). I volunteered daily and saw another way of life. Volunteering in another country allowed me to get out of my head (funny considering that I didn’t know the endless loop I had created). I stopped planning the carpools, the dinners, the grocery runs, the cancer treatments, the scans, the every.single.detail. And you know what I noticed in the moment? That despite extreme poverty around me, I was witnessing, I was feeling, joy. The people of Lima, Peru showed me so much joy. And a different kind of joy – an untethered, calm, beautiful, simple joy. It was a back to the basics – stripped down appreciation for life – for every little moment, even the gritty ones.
It allowed me to truly experience the moment. Honestly, this was new. Eight years of cancer treatments, loss, grief – it had changed me. This tribe of mine, they accepted me – broken, exhausted, uncertain. They actually embraced me. They showed an unconditional love that makes my eyes teary and my heart full. Each one of their beautiful, imperfectly perfect souls has lifted me up during this past year of changes. While only we can make the changes in our lives, having a circle of support like this tribe it changes what is possible.
And you know what else I found – a whole bunch of peace. That illusive emotion. I felt it strongly. I felt peace knowing that my family, on the other side of the equator, they could live without me. Yep, I found so much solace knowing for two weeks they were ok. When my time comes, I know they are going to be ok. Why I didn’t even know I needed that? I found peace knowing my deep grief was accepted by this tribe, embraced – instead of swept shamefully under the rug. I found that the wall of isolation that cancer creates, it can be penetrated by the right people, the right circumstances, the right organization, the right time. I’m filled with gratitude and my tribe, they are family.
So, how did I get here a year later? Turns out, my time in Peru taught me that I might have a bit more life in me. That paralyzing feeling of not being able to make changes. That paralyzing fear, that fear of the “other shoe dropping” – I learned to push it away and move forward. I must say, I am a work in progress – onward. My lens changed. Yes, I still had possibilities. I still had moments to create instead of worrying about the moments I wouldn’t get to create. Or standing still hoping that the universe didn’t notice that I was still here after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer eight years ago (GEEZ Kate, don’t draw attention!).
So, one year ago I landed back in the USA and began plotting the changes. My hubs happily embraced the change, the possibilities and you know what – he took my hand and we leapt! We leapt full of fear and uncertainty, we leapt in spite of it. We leapt. I need to stress how very, open-minded and full of love my little family has been through this metamorphism. We set sail on a life changing year. We sold the only home our three kids have ever known. We painstakingly negotiated to buy the other half of my family’s lake house. It was so hard. Hard actually doesn’t even describe it. There are no words. Every time I thought we needed to quit, there was someone there to push me forward, to help me reclaim my Peruvian vibe. We moved the kids and embraced country living, living on a lake.
Surrounded by a ridiculous amount of beauty each and every day has certainly shifted my lens. Waking up to this type of tranquility every day does that. Beauty, miraculous beauty assaults the senses first thing. Quiet, calm it’s almost overwhelming the quiet, the solitude. And then there is this glorious little town that has adopted us. They have embraced our little family, they have helped show us the ways. They’ve so very generously let us be a part of their way of life. In many ways, this town reminds me of my Peruvian tribe – they’ve accepted us, judgement-free with open arms. This type of warmth is pretty special all by itself but, when you are moving three teenagers to a new place it’s magnificent!
Grateful, blessed and humbled are just a few words that come to mind.
Today was my first time making the trek to a new hospital for cancer treatment. While we’ve lived here since late July ( I had been driving the hour back to my old cancer center the past few months) today, this one single act seemed to clearly define this life altering move for me. I suspect the kids felt this immediately and if not, those first days of school sealed the deal. And I know my very patient hubs is feeling it daily in his commute. But, for me – this land that I have been coming to all my life well, it has innately felt like home.