Two years ago I was going through a tough patch, as I had recently separated from my husband and my health and financial situation were both a bit grim.
I spent a fair amount of time on the phone talking to my mother Evalynn and I’m awfully glad I did, as she passed away unexpectedly that June. During what would be one of our last conversations, my mother asked me what I did for fun. ‘Everything’ I said. ‘Everything I do is for fun’.
And I really meant it.
Approximately 2975 days have passed since I was told that I had three to five months left to live. Each and every one of these days has been a glorious bonus; an unexpected gift; an amazing treasure.
Recently I heard about someone who had ‘made the best’ of a similar situation where they’d received an extended reprieve from death. This individual was traveling the globe. Sounds like fun.
However, bucket lists are not an option for me–out of reach financially but also not what I really desire so much as to go on with life.
And so I have. Living each day as if it weren’t my last. Yet doing so with utmost awareness of how unexpected but also special each and every moment is.
I choose to love life unconditionally and so without judgement. It’s all good. And 99% of it–also fun. Simple stuff like waking up in the morning. Having that first cup of coffee. And then the second. Texting my kids. Hanging out with friends. Going to a thrift store. Smiling at a baby. Striking up a conversation with a stranger. Taking long walks.
But also paying bills, sitting in a waiting room, getting blood drawn. Doing laundry, languishing in traffic, buying groceries. Watering the garden, scrubbing the tub, unloading the dishwasher. All fun fun fun. Because each and every one of these tasks is a privilege I never thought I’d have.
Sometimes it is incredibly poignant and I am reminded of certain moments from childhood: playing outside as dusk approached but knowing that a grownup would soon call us all indoors. The slight anxiety and anticipation would lend a tingling excitement and new intensity to our games. Perhaps we ran a little faster; shouted with a little more bravado, became a bit bolder than before.
That which is fading is often held all the more dear. And I am hanging onto dear life with all the joy I can muster.
I’m with you Linnea. I wake up everyday with “Enjoy Your Life” as my motto. And, we shall “Enjoy”…..
Hey Katie—good to hear from you (and I want to find out how your visit to Boston went). Keep enjoying every moment!
Grateful for you and this eloquent description of the life that those of us in “extra innings” are living . Peace, Angela
Thank you Angela. Enjoy those extra innings!
Inspiring as always.
Thank you Kristin 🙂
So helpful. I’m trying to stay “in the moment” . Deep breathing & the Serenity Prayer helps, too, as do your postings. Thank you.
Isabelle, my mother had a framed copy of the Serenity Prayer on wall of our home and I read it many times. It is sometimes difficult to stay in the moment but it is awfully good practice (no matter your circumstance) to work at it.
thank you for posting that
Thank you Tom.
Dear Linnea, your posts are always so insightful and thought provoking. Next month will mark the 11th anniversary since my diagnosis, and from being told that I had a very limited time to live.
Like you, I find joy in just about every breath, but I also find most of my emotions to be more powerful. My sadness is, at times, so profound. My love is far deeper than I ever thought sustainable. And my happiness is immense.
I’m just happy to be here, and I’m happy not to fear death.
Take care dear.
Jim, you are an all around delightful person and I treasure your openness and honesty as you describe your feelings. I’m happy you are here too 🙂
Good morning Linnea.
I agree with you! Life is amazing and fun and full of hard things as well. Thank God you share your views with others. So many people are inspired by YOU. I am one of them. I forward so many of your posts to my family and friends, so they can BEGIN to value the great lives they have. They have their health, they have so much….but maybe not. If people never get to where you are or even 80% there, how meaningful can their lives actually be? Some people never have to think deeply about the life they were given. I thought I was a thoughtful, somewhat kind person before my cancer. I have a completely new understanding of life. You conversations with you mom are precious. My mom died from lung cancer 23 years ago and I miss not having her to talk to. Dad died from lung cancer 1 month before I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was thankful they did not have to learn of my cancer. yet, through all this suffering….life is very good. I am really a nutty person who enjoys expressing myself to let out my authentic self.
I hope you are having a fantastic day!!
Good morning friend! My dad died from pancreatic cancer four months after my own diagnosis with lung cancer. I miss both of my parents terribly and also wish they could know that I’m still here! And that I have grown tremendously, in large part because of the challenges I have faced. I love your nutty/expressive self!
How beautifully worded.
Thank you Nancy.
Linnea – I love and cherish this post!!! You have so eloquently captured the joy and essence of living fully! Thank you, always.
Hey you, miss you and can’t wait to catch up! And having you in my life is one of my great/simple pleasures!
Your words and wisdom come together
Thank you Cheryl 🙂
Your post is so eloquently written and something I needed to read. I will read it several times. After retirement, due to circumstances, supporting my daughter who has Aspergers, some bad real estate choices, I find most of my money ( which was not a fortune) gone. Instead of being depressed and watching my friends trying to decide which river cruise to take this year and next year, I need to get off the pity pot and find pleasure in daily life and be grateful I am alive.
Thank you for sharing your life on a blog.
Anne, it is hard sometimes and certainly there are days where I would prefer to be sitting in a beach chair holding a drink with a little paper umbrella. But then I jerk myself back to reality very quickly by thinking of all the ways I am blessed (medical care, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, running water). That and there is so much to admire/take joy from in this world that is (one of my favorite words/concepts) free. Big, big hugs this morning.
You don’t know me but I’ve been following you since my husband Andy Lindsay was dxd with stage four lung cancer two years ago.
I think he may have reached out and talked to you at the time. We have certainly taken comfort from your story.
Today’s post struck me so very deeply. Unspeakably poignantly. It is exactly how I feel, right up to loving even the crappy things we get to do because we get to be alive.
The reason I’m writing you, other than to tell you how deeply this piece resonated, and to thank you for sharing it, is to ask your permission to share it on FB.
I will completely understand if that makes you uncomfortable or if you’re not aFB fan. I am only a FB lurker. I don’t love the “see how much better my life is than yours” part. The last thing I posted was two years ago to ask people to come to my blood drive. But I think it can be a vehicle for discovery, and sharing good things. Which is where your entry comes in.
Thank you again Linnea for your fresh, lively and grateful entries. And let me know either way. I promise I wont be hurt.
All the best,
Jan lindsay (From Ipswich)
Sent from my iPhone
Hi Jan, so good to hear from you and thank you for your kind remarks. Of course you can share it—I am honored/pleased that you would wish to do so. And I get how you feel about facebook–there are days when I feel as if I am the bad news at the good news party. I recently shared with one of my sisters (who is far wealthier than I in most respects—financially, robust health, intact family) that my victory over my disease and circumstance was that I was happy anyway. And that is huge.
(say hi to Ipswich–it’s been a while!)
Such a great way to live — remembering that the mundane and difficult are a part of life we must face, so we should do our best to face it well. You are such an inspiring role model for all of us with this, Linnea. Thank you.
Thank you 🙂
Purely love these words!!!
Thank you Kim!
Thanks once again Linnea for so realistically stating what people often take for granted! The simple things of life. We have only this moment for that is life.🌹I too have been blessed almost six years after diagnosis to “just be”. So it goes ” yesterday’s history, tommorow’s a mystery, today’s the present. That is the gift”. Blessings to you. ✨
Thank you Gwen. Unwrapping a new day never gets old!
I read this on my birthday morning. a dear friend’s cancer has awakened more joy and urgency in living. Your words are gift as I learn to live my life more fully. Thank you
Greetings, Linnea, from Dallas, Texas.
I’m just stepping out onto this road : yesterday I received my diagnosis of Stage IIIB lung cancer. Today I meet with my oncologist to plot our route.
This morning here at my computer, I went looking for even a faint light of hope in the experience of those who have survived – instead, I find you, someone not just surviving but thriving.
I have a feeling that you will be a beacon of hope for me in the days, months, years ahead. Thank you for showing up for me today !
All Good to you and everyone here,