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November 16, 2020

Cancer, Unpacking, Grace & Unconditional Friendship—or Maitri (as Buddhists call it).

There’s a yellow finch at the feeder, the puppy loves her new bed, and my body feels weak but I feel strong.

This watermelon is wet and cold, and delicious and soothing to the sores in my mouth from the chemotherapy treatments. As I rest its rosy flesh on my tongue, I imagine it soothing the sores on my soul too.

And, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have recently been lessened in our little town. So, the hairdressing salons are allowed to open again.  That means that I can have my hair cut into something edgy and cool. Then I’ll be styling for a week or two before the rest of it falls out.

Treatment has melted 35 pounds of resentment off of my body’s bones. Resentment I didn’t know that she was still carrying for me after all the years of prayer, meditation, and letting go to let God.

Cheekbones previously hidden under the protective puff of the extra weight are revealed as is the family of my heart. Some are related by blood, most are not.

Every inch of this body is precious to me now. I hold every wrinkle, mark, and puckered bit of skin as tenderly and tenaciously as she has faced and held everything that I couldn’t.

In the bathtub at night, I gather her knees into my chest and rock her in my arms wordlessly asking forgiveness for all the times I’ve forsaken her and slandered her because I’d swallowed the poisoned words of this crazed world as the truth of her worth.  

Afterward, I stand naked in front of the mirror with her reflection looking back at me in maitri—unconditional friendship—as Buddhists call it. Because her loyalty and perseverance take my breath away.

Through the night I wake up to the warmth of his breath and his body pressed against me. My love is pulled by the tumour, in his sleep, across our king-sized bed. We rest on the edge with three-quarters of the mattress abandoned like a lot of things that we had let matter.

He’s always said, “Wherever you are, is where home is.”

I admit that I never fully felt what my mind understood those words to mean.

Until now.

These mornings as I turn my face to look into the blue horizon of what I see in his eyes. I feel my breath deepen and my body relax deeper into the sheets and I know where home is.

I am a lucky woman.

Cancer has given me permission to drench all of this Self, every precious bit, in the compassion and tenderness that I’ve always reserved for others.

And grace follows me from my meditation cushion into this life, no matter what, of unpacking my Self. 

~

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