Last weekend, I went away to a knitting retreat. My sister has been trying to get me to join her for years, but I was always too busy and last year I had no hair and few fingernails so I didn’t want to go. This year, though, there was a last minute opening, my hands didn’t feel too achy, and it’s always sounded like a fun time, so I signed up and headed off to a rustic retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains. I had a great time, ate some delicious food, knit up a storm, and met some wonderful women. I was too busy with all that to take any gorgeous pictures, but here is the view from my window and a sock that I started up there.
But here’s the thing. This was the first time that I was in a group situation of new people for an extended period of time since I first started this. As we sat by the fire and knit and chatted over the 3 days, I began to feel like the cancer has overtaken my life. In the conversational salvos of who are you, what do you do, glad you could finally make it up here, I felt that the cancer has become an unwelcome element firmly embedded into my life story.
Why hadn’t I come last year? The initial answer was that I was sick, then I shared that I had had cancer, then that I had just finished treatment and had no hair or nails, then the whole story of it coming back came out.
What do I do? Well, I used to be an engineer, then I was laid off and then got sick, then finally I was permanently disabled and was trying to figure out what to do with my life to create my new normal.
It was a warm, safe place in the company of women (except for our chef, who was marvelous and who I only saw as he was serving up fabulous meals and cleaning up after them) so I didn’t feel judged or that I was over sharing. I just didn’t like how much the cancer has become a part of my life story. In talking about it, I felt like it forced me to look at the potential negatives again, how reluctant I am to make long term plans and how sharply I am putting my life into three month increments. I don’t know if I’ll make it back next year, I don’t think I’m going to work again, and will I ever really finish all these projects?
So I guess that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to create my new life story, to figure out how to weave the cancer into the fabric of my life so that while it’s there, it doesn’t stand out like hot pink in a sea of harmonious colors. Oh, and to continue to take it as it comes, to continue to have a good attitude, and to live every week as if it were my last.