In Full Flower

It’s not flower season, here in the darkening and dampening North West, but still, life gives me beauty. Each day is miraculous because Shel is still here with me. It almost doesn’t matter what the scans show, what the doctor says, we’re still here, together. We’ve beaten the odds again and again, and sometimes it seems like that can go on forever, even though cancer does nibble away at normal life, day by day.

After all these years, now we know we can choose how to react when the doctor says something like “we don’t have any more options.” Sometimes we just say “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all that before.” Shel’s cancer is slow, our life together has been long. Eighteen years now, although he had cancer when we met. All the things we’ve done together over the years, all the things we still have planned, life is only what you make of it, and we try to make the most, the best, and even beyond that: we try to make a life that doesn’t admit that cancer could ever win. We laugh in the face of danger, ha ha! Who said that, and what were they thinking?

Sometimes it’s dire, sometimes we cry ourselves to sleep. Then the morning comes again, and we awaken to the sight of a hummingbird just outside the bedroom window. The mornings grow colder now, but our new flannel sheets comfort us, and yes, we have a furnace, and we know how to use it. Flannel soaks up the tears very well, and keeps you warm into the bargain.

I’m always thinking: this could be the last time, the last Thanksgiving, the last Christmas. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep for thinking that maybe Shel won’t wake up, that I’ll rise alone to greet the hummingbirds, feed Beppo and Zazou, not bake him his morning croissants, not have someone to make me my beautiful morning coffee. But then, I’ve thought that so many times, and I’ve always been wrong.

When cancer is your constant companion you fear it with every breath you take, and also, if you’re lucky, you slap its face as often as possible, embrace its terrors in the night, refuse its dominion over your happiness. Flowers rule, and sunrises, and cats sleeping on the comforter, and good French wine, and cedar-fragrant evenings, and sitting by the fire, and kissing at day’s end. We are winning this battle, one moment at a time, no matter how fierce. Many days we believe that love can conquer all, and may it be ever thus.

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12 Comments on “In Full Flower”

  1. Nancy Smith Says:

    Abra, this post could be a guide for almost anyone: how to live in the present. Thank you for showing the way, and doing it with such grace.

  2. Jenny and Neil Smith (australia -cruise critic Aussie travel bird) Says:

    Hi A & S,have had a quick look at you blog from my phone as we are away for the weekend at out beach house, 1 hr drive south of brisbane. Will have a better look at home. Love your photos. Glacier bay intetrsting ad we did tracey arm fijord in August. Loved Seattle and visited Bainbridge is. Enjoyed the rockies so so much. Look fwd to meeting on the cruise in March. Take care.

  3. Barbara Says:

    Hi Abra and Shel
    Sometimes it takes adversity to fully appreciate the wonderful things we are so lucky to have in life. I think “live one day at a time” and never look back. You guys are inspiring. And BTW those flowers are so beautiful; don’t know where they came from.

  4. Mark Stein Says:

    You, my dear, have discovered what it takes some people many lifetimes to figure out – the meaning of life. Bless you both!

  5. Hansje Says:

    Beautiful Abra!

  6. Lucy Says:

    Rock on, you two.

  7. Greta Goffin Says:

    Dear friends, reading all the time your blog,following your beautifull trip over an amazing part of the world, we’ve been very close to both of you.

  8. Emily Says:

    You,dear Abra, are an inspiration to us all. May God bless you and keep you throughout this difficult journey.

  9. CapeCoop Says:

    You’re so blessed to have each other’s physical presence during the journey. I hope that your path is sweet more than sad.

  10. Nina L Says:

    I learned to live with joy, and live in the the moment. It was perhaps, the greatest gift that my husband could have given me, and has helped to carry me forward. Many blessings, both of you, for every precious day.

  11. lynnatlinenpress Says:

    Abra, I have just found your blog and will be following from now on. Your words and the images are inspiring. Instead of writing with self-pity (and I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you did) and inwardly, here you are staring outwards with delight and clarity at the changing seasons, noting the magnificence of the natural world. I salute you. The flowers are stunning in their fiery colours. They glow with life.

    I’m so pleased to meet you!

  12. Janan Says:

    Damn, woman, you are one helluva writer. Love to you and Shel.

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