Reading time: 4 minutes
It’s been one year since I woke up to a wintry Sunday morning, the same like any other. It’s been one year since I received the message that I need to call my Dad immediately. It’s been exactly one year since my family’s lives changed forever.
I could go into all of the details about the horrors of someone you love so deeply being diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. But I won’t. I could go on about the failures of the medical system to be able to treat this disease. But I won’t.
Instead I choose to focus on all of the things I am grateful for. Even in the darkest of times, there is always something to be grateful for, and often something to laugh about. My Mom and I did a whole lot of laughing last January as we snuggled up in her hospital bed planning her brain surgery.
I could come up with a very long list of things I am grateful for about my Mom, but most of all I am in awe of her newfound perspective on life. She could have let this diagnosis break her spirit. But she didn’t. She could have resigned and stopped doing things she enjoys. But she didn’t.
Somehow she has managed, in between the trying moments and days, to always find something to laugh about and make others laugh along with her, to find some deeper meaning in her experiences, and to always find something to purchase on Amazon. She has reflected on her life and made so many admirable changes, focusing on what really matters and living a more genuine life. She has learned to be grateful for each day, living in the now rather than in the future or the past.
She realises that the irony of the damn tumour is that it brought her so many things she had been wishing for a long time. My brother, sister and I spent a few months each with her spread over numerous visits, many of which overlapped with each other. This is quite a feat given we all live in different countries across the globe. Our entire family including her 3 children and 5 grandchildren got together for the first time ever. Friends have outpoured their love and support, showing just how much she is appreciated and loved. Her love for my Dad has grown deeper, even after more than 33 years.
I am grateful my family has become closer, not only in distance but also in our hearts. I have seen my siblings more than I have since my brother moved to Australia almost 20 years ago and I left Vancouver for Europe. Our bond has grown deeper and we are more open with our emotions and love.
I am incredibly grateful my husband and mother-in-law rearranged their schedules to care for my kids so that I was able to fly from Zurich to Las Vegas 2 days after getting the news. Christoph has been truly amazing in so many ways, as has his Mom. They have supported me through 6 intercontinental trips and 13 weeks in the US and Canada, 5 of which were without the kids. Christoph has been my rock, trying to give me whatever support I need.
I am grateful that everything that I learned the past several years in yoga, meditation and life prepared me for handling the 2 weeks after the tumor discovery and through the surgery. So many practices that I knew were good for me but had been really struggling to do at home magically came to me when I needed them most.
Being in the present moment
Total body awareness
Holding space for others
Detaching from thoughts
Connecting to intuition and following it
All of these tools automatically appeared as if they were suddenly second nature. I was able to calm my own anxiety and fully support my Mom physically, emotionally and spiritually. Of course this all disappeared the split second I stepped foot back home with the kids, but I am grateful these tools came to me at the time I needed them most.
I am grateful I had the opportunity to pull my kids out of school and take them to Las Vegas for 6 weeks to be with my Mom through chemo and radiation. They were so good for my Mom. I am grateful my kids have been so understanding, loving and (mostly!) content during our most recent visit these past 3 weeks.
I am grateful for the friends and family members who have reached out to check in or who offered a listening ear.
I suppose my gratitude list could go on and on. But I will close it with this. I am very grateful that, despite the heaviness of the situation and the unknown future, there are still many moments of genuine joy, laughter and love.
Michelle Borner, a mom on 23 missions, blogs about her Deep Thoughts on a wide range of topics from parenting to conscious living to lessons from brain cancer.
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