More than a year has gone past since I last wrote here. I want to say it’s been a terrible year. But that’s not entirely true. The Hallmark sickly sweet side of me wants to pretend everything wants to say it turned out fantastic but that’s not entirely true either.
The truth is the earth continued to rotate and the sun appeared in roughly the usual place and time, and life unrolled as it has for the last 100 million days.
It interests me that people just get on with their life. Something exciting/frightening/fabulous happened to me and most people simply couldn’t care less. It’s the same for me, of course. I can’t feel your pain, no matter how much I say I can. More to the point, I don’t want get too close to your pain. I’ve got enough of my own.
Michael [aka Damian] had a golf ball sized malignant tumor removed from his colon in January last year, along with some other suspect looking tissues. The tissues turned out to be normal. Our big fear, chemotherapy, was not required. We skipped out of that appointment like spring lambs. I learned how to dress the wound and now there’s little to show of the experience beyond a dull purple scar. We feel like we dodged a bullet.
Going to the hospital became such an automated aspect of our lives that more than once we found ourselves driving there when we were supposed to be heading off in a different direction. Once a month I spent the day working from the hospital while Mike got an intravenous gamma globulin shot to help boost his immune function. Overall it was awkward, and an unpleasant experience for him. A few months ago Marica and I learned how to do the process via tissue infusion. We now give Michael a weekly top up. It’s an opportunity for us to sit down and watch a movie together – somehow the weekly “put three needles in your abdomen and watch a movie” has become normal. Normal.
In the early part of the year our first granddaughter Kyla arrived. I call her Kairo and she is a joy. I never imagined being a grandfather, and I see photos of an old man feeding a little child and I wondered who he was.
A few months back Marica’s father, Mate, died. For me it opened a gash in my heart like losing my father again. It’s not as raw as it was but we all miss him terribly. He deserves far more comment than this and perhaps when we’ve had time to process we’ll have more to say.
Around the same time I began learning massage therapy. This is still very much a work-in-progress as I learn the intricacies of the muscles that make up our bodies. The human body is a source of fascination to me. We’ve set up massage studio space in our basement and the first of hopefully many massages have happened. Wellington experienced a significant earthquake and I’ve offered massages to people who’ve found the post-quake-stress tough to deal with.
And suddenly it was xmas, and then new year, and January 1 arrived like the winter. Howling winds, rain hammering into the glass. I love it. Sure, we didn’t get to sit in the sun and remember all of the better-than-ever summers. They didn’t exist then either. The shrubs shake off the wind and flick the water drops up against the window.
What I love is the chance to start over – a new diary, a little more writing here, a couple of shared meals with people I love. Last year was tough. It was my year of humans. The nurse from Zambia now living through the Wellington winters. The doctor from Iran. The old doctor who is becoming forgetful. The cool professional doctor who became human. The nurse who went home. I witnessed humble but noble acts of caring and helping other people with their days; and I learned about and from the people who earn their living this way. I have become a better person as a person.
In the end, none of the trappings of success – possessions or status – matter. It’s tikkan olum – repairing the world for the good of us all that makes the difference. And sometimes, if we get lucky, we get a second chance to make it right. That’s my challenge for 2017, and my challenge to you. Help make it better.
12. Every day love yourself.
13. Every day be better than you were the day before.
14. Every day the ordinary can be the extraordinary.