“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” (Anon.)
The above quote is taken from the Mother’s Day card my son gave to me this year. In it he writes, “The quote on this card seems to me the perfect metaphor for the metamorphosis this past year has been for you: A most unwelcome change at a time that should have been a celebratory one. Yet that change evolved, through the dutiful strength and belief you showed in the name of a future you were not certain you would have, into a renewed sense of the preciousness of life and time.”
For those of you who have followed me on SOL, you know that the “unwelcome change at a time that should have been a celebratory one” refers to the fact that I was diagnosed with late-stage cancer within two weeks of my retirement from teaching last June. The diagnosis was a shock and caused me to enter a cocoon stage that allowed me to undergo many biopsies, hospital stays, radiation and chemo treatments that would have been unbearable otherwise. In late January, when I was declared “cancer free” by my radiation doctor, I was still so well shielded by my cocoon that I was unable to experience any sense of joy in spite of the very welcome news. As the weeks passed, I worried that my feelings of happiness would never return. Everyone who learned the good news was very happy for me, while my emotions remained completely flat.
Then, an unexpected turn of events initiated a slow change in my emotions. A friend suggested that I join this blog, Two Writing Teachers, that offered a month-long challenge to teachers to blog every day for the month of March. The theme, a Slice of Life, required only that participants write about something happening in real time every day for the entire month. The other requirement for participation was to respond to at least three other writers’ blogs every day. This was a life changing experience for me for several reasons. It provided me with an instant audience for my thoughts; a community of writers who would respond to my writing every day; and a realization that I am, after all, a person who really enjoys writing. I found myself waking up every day excited about seeing who responded to my blogs and what they had to say. I felt energized to think of a new topic every day which caused me to renew my connection to my daily life in a way I hadn’t been able to since the onset of my illness.
Today, Mother’s Day, I am sitting in my zero-gravity chair in my backyard while my son, daughter and husband putter in the garden. I placed my chair where I could see all the plants in bloom and appreciate the time and effort that I and other family members have put into making this beautiful display happen. I am feeling the lovely warm breeze and the occasional drops from the sprinkler sprayed on me by the wind. I am enjoying the vivacious colors of bright yellow, coral pink, fuchsia, lavender, deep purple and soft pinks spread throughout the garden and watching the bumblebees wander lazily from blossom to blossom. I know the butterflies will be here soon.
Note: I dedicate this blog to my friend, Kathleen Sokolowski, without whose encouragement this blog would not have been written, and especially to my friends who are or have been engaged in their own struggles with cancer. May the butterflies soon visit all of you, too.