Looking Back

happyLate last night, I downloaded onto our new computer photographs from several years ago, photos taken shortly before my cancer diagnosis and shortly after.   And I found myself thinking, over and over, as I looked at the pictures of our life before my diagnosis, you did not know, back then, how frightened all of you would shortly be.  But otherwise, the photographs are of an exuberant bunch of children — before and after.  They are still that way.  You don’t recover from something like this, if recover means go back to the way you were, before you knew that it was possible to get news like that.  But it doesn’t alter the essential things about you.  If you’re lucky, though, it deepens what’s essentially good.  That’s what I hope happened to us.  You don’t need a cancer diagnosis for that, you just need to remember to love every good thing in your life, no matter how small.      

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and to everyone you love.


19 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. How true your words sing, “If you’re lucky, though, it deepens what’s essentially good.” I’ve never understood completely how anyone can say crisis is the best thing that happened to them. This sort of seeking silver lining venture, is not in my old Irish genes. But, to deepen what is essentially good in ourselves… well that is something I can completely understand. Thank you.

  2. Danielle — That’s William! Right now, he’s up skiing with his dad and his brothers and I imagine he’s probably jumping off everything he can find to jump off.

    Dear Debbie — You are such a sweetheart. I hope Scharffenberger chocolate shows up at some point in your day today.

    Becca, It has lately seemed to me (by lately, I mean for most of my forties) that it’s just easier to pay attention to small things — the big things seem to flow from that.

    Hey Mari — I keep thinking about your cookies, as I plan what red dessert I am making tomorrow night for our belated Valentine’s Day dinner.

    Lilalia, You are completely right — I have never understood the sickness-as-gift kind of thinking. Although I’m totally fine and am very lucky to be able to say that, I could have done without the whole thing.

  3. Looking at old photographs of myself and my family always makes me think of the innocence shown in those photos. And despite my current total self-knowing, I am coming to realise that, in twenty years time, looking back at the images I record today, I shall again be amazed at my innocence in those images.

    Oops, now that is a lot deeper than I expected!

  4. Dear Ben, Good luck with that sermon!

    Hello Cara — It’s so nice to see you here. I think, as a photographer, you’re particularly good at choosing those moments.

    See what happens, Archie? You get going, and suddenly: profundity hits when you least expect it.

  5. Happy Valentines Day, Bloglily! I was very moved to read this. I went through only the tiniest fraction of what you did, barely a scratch on the surface and it troubles me still. But you’re right that the way forward is to allow the trouble to produce good results. To make it push you forward rather than hold you back.

  6. Dear Lily–
    I’m sure what I went through was a scratch on the surface too, as Litlove puts it, in comparison. But the fact that 2009 will be 10 years c-free is no small thing and occasion not only for exuberance but for renewed gratitude and for renewed commitment to “deepening what is essentially good.” Thanks for this heartfelt and truthful post.

  7. I am having a great holiday weekend, Ms. Gentle Reader — it’s been pouring off & on (which means, basically, every time I look out the window and think about taking a walk it’s raining) — but that has led to an unusual amount of productivity. I hope your holiday weekend’s been terrific too.

    It IS a great picture isn’t it, Marie? That’s William at his most typical. He totally cracks me up.

    Dear Fencer, We celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday, the 15th, after everyone came home from skiing. I think we’re going to do that from now on — when I went to Walgreen’s to buy the Valentine’s Day swag it was deeply, deeply discounted! I loved that.

    Deborah, I think every year out things get better. I’ve been eating a lot of spinach and kale and staying away from meat and other stuff and hoping that will help.

    Hi Ben, It is easy to forget, isn’t it? Sometimes there’s so much hurly and burly you can’t really hear anything else.

    Hello OP — This has been the perfect weekend for all that rain.

    Dear Ms. Squirrel of few words — thank you.

    You know, litlove, I think there’s some of both — the holding back (which includes, the freaking out, the battening down, the denial of…) and the moving forward. It seems only human to do all those things.

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