In addition to the lesson about playing the hand that is dealt, the other significant experience that has changed me is related to fear. Fear is paralyzing. I remember the days, one in particular, when I could not eat. It was not the disease that prevented me from eating; it was the panic that would not be quelled. It was a force so powerful that I could have died from it. Fear takes up a lot of space. It is all-consuming, leaving room for nothing else. But when fear is absent, the being is allowed to be. The being can then gather information, weigh options, make decisions. The being can give and receive love; take a walk; enjoy a milkshake.
I cannot recall the exact moment that I learned that I could manage my fear. I will not claim that I am never afraid. Fear will creep back in during the middle of the night, or strike like lightening with the delivery of unpleasant news. I have, however, contemplated how I have been able to develop the skills to cope with fear. I was not able to do it alone. I doubt that most of us could. The key to my success is the bond that I have with you. Yes, you. This is my journey, and my journey, alone. But you are there to push me off a rock when my raft gets stuck, patch the holes in the raft, and bail like heck when I take on water. You are not just an observer watching as I float by.
As I prepare myself mentally and physically for next week's possibilities, it is not fear of death that haunts me. I am not afraid. I will follow in the footsteps of my father. He faced his challenges, and ultimately his mortality with grace and humility. I will honor his memory by continuing to do my best to emulate him. What motivates this being is the desire to live. I have a son to raise, and work to do within my profession and in my community. And I truly enjoy the gift of living each day. And dachshunds. I love dachshunds.
I still haven’t entirely resolved the faith issue. It’s there; it’s just not clearly defined. Nevertheless, on the eve of a venture full of unknowns, regardless of where your religion, spirituality and/or faith lie, I ask for your prayers.