Friday, September 08, 2006

Bittersweet

Last month, I was sitting on a Cape Cod beach with my family and friends when my friend Maria asked me if it was hard, being there, having fun in the moment, but knowing about my diagnosis and the future. I thought about the question for a moment, teared up, and responded that it was bittersweet. My life is filled with bittersweet moments these days.

This past week I attended convocation, where the University formally welcomes new freshmen to campus and to their role in the University community. "Welcome to the Class of 2010," the University president said. And I thought, as I never had before, "Will I be here in 2010 to see these incoming students graduate?" Added to that thought was an even more personal question about 2010: Would I be here to see my daughter enter high school? Would I be here in 2014 when she would graduate from high school? Painful, bittersweet thoughts.

Yesterday I stood before a new class of students, discussing the course, welcoming them to a new field of study, and suddenly it hit me. The wall of sadness that came to me was powerful, and I had to shift from it in order to stay present to the class. The last time I stood before a class, I didn't know that cancer was growing inside me. I envisioned myself teaching well into the next decade of my life, my 60s, and teaching into the next decade of this century. Perhaps I will indeed defy the odds and medical predictions and be here then, but I no longer assume that will be the case. And, the sweetness of all of this is that I am teaching, I am standing before new groups of students, sharing what I know, supporting them in their learning, and in being active participants in the changes, academic and personal, that ideally are part of their college years.

As I have pondered these thoughts and feelings, I have noted that the sweetness is in the present moment, and the bitterness is in looking toward the future and noting its uncertainty. And, the truth is that while we humans like to look to the future and make plans, and anticipate with delight good things we want to have come our way, the future is not within our control. So, once again I return to now, to the present, to the moments over which I have some control, over how I feel, and how I greet each moment.

2 comments:

Hopesy said...

I just love your blog. Enjoy your sweet moments and may all of the bitter moments of the future turn out to be yet sweet moments when present.

SKS said...

It is so important to learn to stay in the moment and make the most of every day that we have. It is too bad that we can't understand that until a diagnosis makes us see it. It hit me hard in December 2002 when they operated and could not remove my cancer at that time. As much as I tried not to think it I was afraid that I was living my last Christmas. It does make for bittersweet feelings. It was only later that I realized that any day...any Christmas could be my last. I could die from something else before the cancer could take me! Live your moments, friend, and know that all who know you are pulling and praying for you to be our miracle.