Sunday, February 24, 2008


Eastern thought focuses a lot more on mindfulness than we do here in the west. We run from one activity to the next, one responsibility to the next, one purchase to the next, one fast food meal to the next. We're often so busy stuffing down the Big Mac in order to get to the french fries that we don't notice the flavor of either (just the indigestion later.) After all, we ate it in our car at 75 mph, listening to our iPods and texting the office at the same time.

Cancer demands focus. It's not pleasant at first, mostly because the focus is on something so horrific. As the constant shock and grief wears off, a more gentle shift in my thought process has taken place.

I smell my daughters' hair more often. I notice the hawks in the trees along the highway on my trips to the hospital. I've started knitting scarves for friends. I laugh more at the stupid songs the kids sing. I'm not perseverating on planning for events 3 months in the future. I'm more deliberate about what I'm eating. I'm physically touching my family more often.

Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. I used to see this phrase as depressing or overly bacchanal. Now it's inspiring to me. Eventually, tomorrow I die. Eventually, tomorrow Henry dies. But here we are today.


Doctor David said...

What a great thought! I have similar thoughts most evenings after I've been covering the inpatient unit. Pediatric Oncology has taught me to appreciate the little things in life in a way no prior experience did for me.

The Nurse said...

I thought of you this morning, as I prayed in church. I was grieving an unborn child I lost eight weeks ago... et how in hindsight I felt so strong during the ordeal of the situation. But, I have those weak moments, like today, when I grieve. When I feel broken. But, those are actually the good moments, really. Those are when I remember that life is fleeting, and time is precious. Your post is very encouraging... it reminds me to smell my daughter's hair... to taste my Big Mac... and to not miss a moment, because every moment is a gift.

Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Tara, Thx for reminding us to enjoy every moment that we are giving. There is beauty in everything, sometimes it just takes a little longer to realize that.
The human race needs to remember it's not all about the "race".

glad your knitting needles are back to work

rlbates said...

Very nice to be reminded. Have a great day!

Catherine said...

Wonderful lesson, effortlessly learned in extremely difficult circumstances only it seems. Part of the gift that is Henry I would say.

Jenny said...

I'm a cancer survivor and I know exactly what you're talking about. I look at the world completely different now. I notice things I never paid attention to before, I enjoy simple acts and pleasures more, and I find I don't sweat the small things so much.

I wouldn't wish cancer on my very worst enemy ... but, I can't help but think it has made me a better human being.