Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweet Time

I've been walking around with that clenched feeling in my chest. You know what I'm talking about - the "worrying about this, trying to plan for that, when does this need to be done?" clench.

I know many of the sources of my clench. We have the usual 4th of July concerts, complicated this year by the production manager being out of commission. (Busy? I'll say. Last night, Warren went back to his office for another three hours, while I stayed here and mowed the lawn.) We are squeezing our budget so that Montana happens in under 5 weeks. There was an email from my ex asking about my contribution to Sam's college expenses for next year, and even though he wrote "don't get bent into a pretzel over this," just seeing, let alone reading, an email about money from him causes my chest to contract. I am seeing my oncologist later today - just a "touching base" visit. (No labs this time because until I get the labs from last fall and this spring paid off, I don't want to add to my balance. I'm kind of rolling the dice there because lab tests are one of the best (and almost only) ways to monitor myeloma, but I just this month paid off the last of the economic havoc that Dr. Bully wreaked last July.)

So I've got plenty of reasons to be clenched, let alone over-busy and stretched (again).

Being clenched, though, besides not feeling good, makes for a distracted kind of existence. I have been so busy running through my list of triggers - money, health, schedules, Montana, college, concerts - that I haven't been paying attention to anything going on around me.

I hate being disconnected.

This morning I drove Sam to work, as I do most mornings. He is usually tired in the morning, not his most conversant, and today was no exception. That was a good thing, because had he been chattering away, I don't know if I would have interacted with him beyond a perfunctory "uh huh."

I was that far gone.

After dropping Sam off, I turned the radio on, something I don't often do. I'm glad I did. By sheer serendipity, Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Are Dying" came up on an easy listening station.

That song came out just about the time I was diagnosed with cancer. I listened to it repeatedly that long winter. When I threw a party to announce my illness, it was the "Live Like You Are Dying" party. Even today it resonates with me deeply.

…I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays

Talking 'bout the options and talking 'bout sweet time.

Sweet time.

When you are clenched, you forget how sweet time is. When you are constantly running through checklists in your head, you forget how sweet time is.

Even in the last handful of days, the moments of sweet time are thick and bountiful. Watching Buster Keaton movies with Warren at the Ohio last Friday night. Making homemade ice cream for a Saturday supper with Margo and Gerald, then talking late into the night around the fire ring. Anything with Warren, even just going to the hardware store together.

Sweet time.

As I finish this post, it is mid- evening. Sam came over after work and had a late birthday dinner with my parents, Warren, and me. Warren is working on 4th of July preparations, this time at the house.

When I saw Tim this afternoon, he asked me how long it has been since my stem cell transplants. It was five years ago this summer. He closed his eyes and shook his head softly, repeating "five years, five years." He then opened his eyes, gave one of his blinding grins, and said "Wow!"

Five years. Now that is sweet time.


Donna Meyer said...

I remember that party - a bittersweet affair. Congrats on passing yet another anniversary. You have lived well over the last 5 years....not always easy...but well. Hope the next 40 are just as sweet.

(Wow! Sam is all grown up and has facial hair. Love his shirt!)

April said...

Donna--bittersweet, yes...but a really great party all the same!

Alise Marie said...

Your boys look so much alike now that Sam is bearded.

Also, I know that you are making a lot of sacrifices to come to MT for the wedding, and I just wanted to thank you. It means so much to Ben and I to have all the family together, even if it's just for a few days.

April said...

Alise, dear Alise--we wouldn't miss Montana for the world. No matter how many pennies I have to wring!

Sharon said...

Thank you for this post. Most of us travel through life unconscious of what goes on around us because we are overworked, overscheduled, and overtired.

I have some medical issues that have come up. My appointment is in the middle of July with a specialist, but I'm concerned. Every time I think about it, I'm scared that I may have something very serious. And then it makes me think I won't be around to enjoy my children all grown up...
I really need to slow down and live my life now. Thanks for bringing that to my attention through your post.

Money issues are such a bummer, but please don't wait too long for your testing.

I'm so glad you have beat this, at least for the past 5 years. That's a great indication that you will have 40 more...:)!

April said...

Sharon: You are very, very much in my thoughts right now. Please keep me posted; you have your family and am army of friends to stand by you if the news is troubling.

Ellen said...

April, thanks for sharing some of the personal issues in your life. I'm glad to get to know you a bit better. We do all have concerns relating to health, money, and time management. You've shown how important it is to realize the temporary nature of most problems and the importance of not allowing your problems to overwhelm you. Living in the moment is a skill to be cultivated. Congrats on your five year anniversary! I know you'll have many, many more.