Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.
Carousels. Growing up, I never liked to pass up a ride on the merry-go-round. Even now with my own boys, when an opportunity presents itself, I love to join them for a magical journey on the wooden horses.
What I remember most about carousels as a child … more than the mirrors, lights and creepy organ music being played—perhaps even more than the ride itself—was my need to thoughtfully search the carousel to find the perfect horse. I loved finding unique characteristics … noble features that would make me feel like a princess (on this roundabout to nowhere). Of course it was always necessary to find a galloping horse that went up in down. I remember running to my perfect horse when it was time to get on, and as I looked ahead, I’d often see that overlooked stallion— a spectacular horse I hadn’t seen from afar. Quickly I’d run ahead, eager to jump aboard my newly found beauty, then just as quickly I’d realize with a sigh, that my new friend is a stationary soldier, one that would not “gallop” up and down—a necessity on the merry-go-round. Turning back to see my “perfect” horse, it was too late … another rider was “saddled” up for a journey on the majestic horse I had originally longed for.
The past several weeks post-surgery have been difficult. As physical healing continues to flourish, the mental aspect of everything has really begun to seep in and though in some ways it’s been medicinal, in other ways it’s had a withering effect on my spirit. I’ve had real time to wrap my mind around what has been … what is, and the unknown future that lies ahead. Facing the unknown realities of the future often bring to light the significance of some forgotten truths from the past.
People in general have a tendency to long for something they don’t have or simply fail to appreciate the unique characteristics and beauty we’ve each been blessed with. For me, as a little girl, I hated being a redhead. Though I came to appreciate my locks as I grew older, the moment chemo took all my hair, I not only longed for that long, thick ginger hair to return, I felt real conviction for all the times I didn’t appreciate it when I had it. In a recent conversation with one of my oncologists, we laughed talking about how we always want what we don’t have. I shared how I’d complain about my larger breasts growing up, always wishing they were smaller. We then talked about breast reconstruction and the “silver lining” attached to breast cancer patients’ these days in the realm of options available—having “Hollywood” procedures at your finger tips to reconstruct your body/breasts to be fantastic and “perfect.” Cue the crickets. As I stood there dazed and confused … I imagined desperately how wonderful it would be to rewind time and take back all the foolish insecurities and longings I carried, and instead be content with what I had been given. Silent, my only real yearning: to have myself back completely, in every way.
Yes, many people do want what they don’t have—until they lose everything they thought needed changing.
During recovery, I spent a week’s respite on Cape Cod, visiting family. I needed quality time with my boys, time with my thoughts (uninterrupted by the guilt of not being able to run a house as effectively), and most definitely time to get away from the big C . . . even though it unavoidably follows me wherever I go. There, I was thrilled to spend a beautiful day at a historic museum with my Dad and the boys—one that also happened to have a classic carousel from 1908. Physically not quite ready to ride one of the beauties, I smiled, watching the boys pick out their “perfect” horse. “Come on, mom!” the boys beckoned me to join them. Logan, my middle son led me to the loof chariot … y’know that lame stationary sleigh ride that I never quite understood how or why someone would actually choose amidst the horses. But there I sat, chasing the painted ponies … on a magic machine full of life going around and around—on my chariot. I beamed watching my beautiful children ahead of me and realized there can be contentment in embracing change and the very real beauty that can come with it.
Radiation is starting tomorrow. My radiation oncologist needed to make a few corrections, but I’m “tattooed” and ready to go—even had my dry run on Thursday. Tomorrow begins my official 7-week cycle of daily radiation. I will be doing what they call a “deep inspiration breath holding” technique to help reduce radiation to my heart and lungs, especially useful, as my cancer is on the left side.
I learned that the word carousel comes from the Italian word: carosello which means “little war.” How apropos that this thing called cancer has indeed been a “little” war physically, mentally and spiritually. As I’m frozen, stationary on my chariot, the world continues to go around. Thank God I love to travel, or I may have jumped off a long time ago. Instead, I’m trying to embrace this season on the carousel, where though I may not feel like a princess on my chosen stallion, I can ultimately be content in drinking in the beauty set before me. I long to appreciate this ride that God has orchestrated … and I plan to embrace the carosello as I continue to chase my painted ponies until the music stops.