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.