“Time is long but life is short.” Stevie Wonder
Another summer, another year after cancer. Four years ago, I was in the thick of it. Depressed, scared, lonely, stressed, angry and out of my mind tired of it all. That summer, time was definitely long.
Somehow I got through the longest summer of my life. When I finally made it to September, I hit a new emotional low because an entire year had gone by since my initial mammogram and I wasn’t yet “over” cancer. (I know they were trying to be helpful, but the people (a doctor and a survivor) who told me cancer will take a year of your life and then it will be “over,” did me no favors.)
I think it’s exactly when we’re experiencing life’s losses that we best appreciate that time is long, but life is short. Those days of grieving miscarriages and infertility, the death of our dear friend on 9/11 and cancer were the longest of my life. But, they also taught me how quickly and without warning a life can be extinguished. And, in that loss of life, brought a shattering reality to my own mortality.
Of course, when the fog lifts and the sun starts to shine a little brighter, it’s easy to forget the preciousness of each moment. To some extent, that’s probably the way it should be. It’s just too hard to maintain the heightened awareness that comes from grief and struggle every day of your life.
Yet, somewhere in our consciousness remains a recognition, a knowledge, that cannot be unlearned. We’ve lived the worst of times and because we know life is short:
- We make each moment count: “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” (Satchel Paige)
- We give it our all: “Too many people die with their music still in them.” (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes) “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” (Erma Bombeck)
- We don’t take ourselves too seriously: “My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked, a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.” (Maya Angelou)
- We try to be kind: “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” (Henri Frederic Amiel)
- We take risks: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T. S. Eliot)
- We take charge: “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” (Helen Keller)
- We celebrate: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Dance, sing, laugh and celebrate because life is short and you deserve to be happy.
Survival > Existence,
Coping with Cancer Anger