The other day, I chanced upon a poem called “Sometimes” that stopped me in my tracks and penetrated right through my rib cage and into my heart, as only a select few pieces of writing can magically and occasionally do.
In it, poet Sheenagh Pugh reflects on how sometimes, just sometimes, things do work out. She writes, “Sometimes things don’t go, after all, / from bad to worse. … / The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow / that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.”
The last line echoed in my head as I lay in the arms of the man I had spent 10 months apart from, as the sun cast a warm, yellow glow over my home city and finally appeared to melt my field of seemingly never-ending sorrow. Sometimes things do go right.
It’s a difficult concept to fathom, a strange pill to swallow, when for so long one’s life has been a struggle. How do we recognize happiness when it finally happens? How do we stare contentment in the eyes and not cower in fear because it has become such an unfamiliar face? Because whenever we felt it was finally within our grasp, it was suddenly ripped away? Because we are so used to things falling apart, to the bad news, to the regret in doctors’ eyes, to the quiver in our fathers’ voices as they bear the bad news, to the ball dropping, to the sky falling, to our hearts breaking?
But sometimes — especially after a long period of suffering, being ill, losing loved ones, being alone, and fighting tirelessly for your life — we wake up and realize everything is OK.
My moment of realization happened on a rainy Friday afternoon. CNN was blaring in the background. My love sat across from me wearing a hoodie and a warm smile that made my heart melt. I realized, in that simple moment, dressed in pajamas on the couch, that I had everything I needed to be happy right there.
That same morning I’d seen a dandelion growing out of the sidewalk. A nostalgic habit from childhood, whenever I see a dandelion, I am compelled to blow it, to scatter its seeds all over, to birth new life. But really, it’s because I still believe in the power of making wishes. And yet, when I saw that flower, I didn’t feel the need to make a wish because I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted.
I am cancer-free. I can hug my dad again. I am surrounded by friends I adore, and I live minutes from the ocean, a place that never fails to fill me with an almost overwhelming, childlike glee. My lover and I share a home that we are slowly decorating with art, color, light, and things that make us happy — breathing new life into old places.
For survivors of trauma — those who have dragged heavy limbs through muddy metaphorical battlefields, who have lived in that in-between state of uncertainty, who have not known if treatment will work or if they’ll even make it to next Christmas — it’s hard to come to terms with the notion of things going right. It’s difficult to breathe a sigh of relief and see that right now the roof is sturdy, the sun is shining, and everything is OK.
But cancer has taught me that happiness is not a place. It’s not a final destination we arrive at someday.
When we fight a disease for an extended period of time, we have to give up the idea of waiting on happiness until everything is all right. We have to let go of the waiting and decide to embrace the imperfect moments.
We may be bald, puffy, tired, and sore, and we may wish things were different. But then we look up and see the sun leaking through the kitchen window or a child smiling, or we get a hug we didn’t know we needed, or we feel a hand squeezing ours tight.
And we realize that sometimes everything works out all right.
May it happen for you.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.
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