The secrets of living I need to know

My neighbour is dying of cancer and you should see her smile. She’s making me think, she’s making me think about big things. You see I’m dying from living and smiling is sometimes hard. Though, to be honest, it depends who I’m with. But yesterday I felt I needed to tell her and her husband thank you, and I watched her light up. She doesn’t wear her pain as a crown of thorns. But I do. I’ll give her age and wisdom on her side, I still feel young and dumb save for the saggy boobs but still carry this sense of entitlement that life owes me a better hand for all the shit I feel I’ve been through, so I wear a frown.

I watched her, bald from chemo therapy, holding her granddaughters hand outside in the sun. And there she was smiling again. And it confuses my immature heart. Part of the problem is that it also induces shame, and that in itself is unhealthy because I should be more grateful right?

I could carry on about all the reasons why everything is so hard, and my friends remind me, that a year ago this time started one of the hardest years of my life. …And I keep waiting for it to get better. To feel better. For me to feel settled, for me to feel less insecure about existing. I’ve begun to think there are boogeymen behind every corner and a part of me worries that my fear is what actually conjures these boogeymen into existence.

You know that saying? About how life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it? It’s my only explanation for why this woman next door can still smile. I bet she cries too, I’m glad she has a supportive husband and kids and grandkids to fill her bucket. Because the bags under her eyes say her bucket is quite empty, but the light in her eyes says it is quite full. Unlike her, I imagine my eyes and the bags under them tell the same story that life is draining the life right out of me.

I think I’ll go and visit her today. To see her smile, maybe to try and look her in the eyes and ask her how she does it. To share with me her secret, about how she lives while she’s dying. It’s a secret I need to know, before I dig my own hole too deep.

©️Entirety 2018

Photo| Pinterest


8 thoughts on “The secrets of living I need to know

  1. I had a bad year once upon a time. A year that turned my bones to lead. That would pull me into a 3 hr sleep if I sat down for 10 minutes. That made me feel like a balloon someone was towing behind them – ungrounded, watching life happen without touching or tasting it, not quite a person. I saw other people attached to the earth and was jealous of their… everything. And after a time I decided I had to tackle this run down anchor-heaviness that was somehow insubstantial and distant. I made a deal with myself of 5 things I had to do every day to get myself back into my body, back into community and back into joy. I had to laugh every day, for example. For two minutes at first and then longer with time. And did some dietary things, and exercise stuff, and motivational somethingsomethings. But I also had to take on one act of kindness every day. And I think it was the healingest. I struggled with my own smile, my own contentment, pleasures or joy but found that I could engage them through surrogates until I had enough borrowed joy to cultivate my own. I wrote thank you letters to all kinds of people that I was grateful to know and that had really amazing rebound effects. I wrote encouragement postcards to folks who needed some. I bought or baked favorite snacks and left them in friend’s mailboxes. The more I did the more creative I got. And after a month of doing that every day, my laugh was noticeably louder and more natural, and my smile came more often and easy. We all suffer – there isn’t some suffering that is more noble than the next, illness, isolation, grief, parenthood struggles, poverty, it’s all legit. But we heal better With than alone. Keep writing. Keep reaching out. And cultivate borrowed joy until you can grow you own. Your smile and bright eyes haven’t left you, they are in there. The most magical thing people can do is heal, and they do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post reminded me of Tim McGraw and his beautiful song “Live like you were dying.”

    You hang in there Angel and all will well soon. Keep the faith and stay positive and live this life like today was your last. We got this Angel!!! xox

    Liked by 1 person

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