Regaining Balance

Last Friday I was geared up to wish you all a happy Mother Language Day, as February 21st is International Mother Language Day, designated by UNESCO. The day has been observed since 2000 in the hopes of promoting “linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism”. (You can read more about it here: http://www.un.org/en/events/motherlanguageday/) I have a gorgeous picture from J-Me Photography waiting to be called from the depths of my computer files to adorn a post I’ve been meaning to write about raising bi-lingual children. Seriously, what day could have been better for such a post?

But as you might have read in my last post, Before and After, we have entered the state of “after” and everything has changed. With the cancer diagnosis of our Dear One, we have begun a journey entailing many doctor visits in different cities and now a bit more testing before beginning therapy an hour away. I can no longer say with certainty, “If you need me Friday morning, I’ll be at the computer getting my post up for the week,” because I might instead be listening intently to a doctor, wondering exactly what questions I need to ask or waiting for our Dear One to emerge after having poison washed through his veins. This has become our new reality.

I feel I might need to give a clarification: don’t understand it as complaining. I am in the luxurious position of taking the few no-kid hours of my day and miraculously having it multiplied. Unlike Jesus the miracle does not evolve from my hands, although certainly God is involved here too. Amazing friends accomplish the miracle by gathering my children in with their own, feeding them and giving them a home for a few hours with a simple, “Of course I’ll take the kids.” We are in the midst of a community which pours out support in the way of words, prayers, car rides and child care. No, I am not complaining that in this state of “after” nothing is predictable, but rather I am thankful that because of our friends and family, I am able to lend support when necessary.

But something does bother me: I am consumed by the topic of cancer, even as I struggle against that consumption. I am confident that even this new state of “after” will become routine, so that one day there will be room in my head for other topics again, but in this moment, writing about anything else (i.e. bi-lingual children) seems unfitting and too difficult. It could not possibly be authentic, which you, my faithful readers, would detect. I have no capacity for anything else – is that part of the disease? Does cancer not only consume healthy cells, but takes over healthy thoughts and turns them into dark, ugly one-topic repetitive records? Or is it just a natural process, a time we need to digest all that has changed and might change in the future?

I am a big believer in the balance of all things, whether diet, raising children or topics of conversation. Maybe that’s why balancing poses are some of my favorite in yoga: it’s obvious if I’m in equilibrium or not. And then after one side is complete, the other side strains to complete the cycle, creating not only physical balance, but also balance in the brain, both sides equaled out.

Right now I feel completely out of balance because everything revolves around this evil cancer.

I feel I can’t spend energy writing about anything else. Everything in me is on low-burner. I’m just getting by with those things absolutely necessary, and feel incapable of going beyond. I’m hesitant to commit to anything not knowing if I might need to be available for driving or other support measures, and my brain is too full to deal with other things. We have been pushed off-balance because our regulated routines and false security in daily life which give us equilibrium have been shaken. We sway with flailing arms; we continue to gasp for air, hoping the calming waves of deep, easy breathing will soon wash over us.

One of these days, we’ll catch our balance again. I’m sure of it. And until we can hold it ourselves, we have others around us, bearing some of the weight. I’m not the one with a cancer diagnosis, watching as my body is destroyed in order for it to one day regain strength. I can’t directly jump in the fight against it. But maybe there is a way to not allow cancer to get the upper hand – by not allowing our equilibrium to be destroyed. Every day we’re gaining a bit of it back, and we will continue to work at it. That much we can do.

With thanks to Miriam and Hanna
With thanks to Miriam and Hanna
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