My web site is devoted to medical and treatment information about this rare cancer. My blog is devoted to sharing what has been the more difficult part of the journey for me, the emotional and spiritual road I've traveled as a rare cancer survivor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beginning, Middles and Ends

Sorry I have not posted in awhile. My life has been kind of busy lately, getting both of my kids off to college. I am officially an "empty-nester" now for the first time. I have been an "empty-nester" for 7 days.

My kids have been calling often, so we are still in close touch, and my youngest plans to come home to visit often. I'm so glad for that (even though we ran over on cell phone minutes!).

I talked to a mom a few days ago who has one in college and another a senior in high school. When I mentioned to her I was an empty nester now as both of my kids are away, she got a look of dread in her eyes. She is terrified of her upcoming empty nester days. Another empty-nester mom wrote me yesterday...she is a few years out in the experience, and two of her kids now live out of the country, one in Japan and one in the Middle East. Once we let them out of the nest we don't know how far away theirs lives will take them.

I know lots of women experience a crisis when their kids leave the nest. I'm not having a crisis; but I guess my perspective is different.

When I was told I had an untreatable cancer and not expected to survive, all I wanted in life was to be here long enough to raise my kids to independence, to see them off on their own independent life journeys. So for me, in a sense, it's a celebration to have made it this far. When I was diagnosed, I did not want to abandon my kids when they needed me, I wanted to live long enough for them to "abandon" me, to fly off on their own wings as adults. I have realized that dream and am very, very grateful for that.

While I love and miss my kids, I want them to be able to achieve dreams and to be independent and not to rely upon me solely, as they did when I was diagnosed. I want them to yes, care about me and love me and for us to always be close, but I don't want their future to depend on my presence...as cancer made me understand how fragile my presence is. I want them to have dreams and goals and hopes that are theirs to motivate them, to have lots of people who support them whether I am here or not. They are amazing people and have so much to offer this world.

I always pursue spiritual growth. To me it's why we are here...I have always believed we are first spiritual beings having a physical experience vs. physical beings having a spiritual experience. To me our physical presence isn't "it", our experience in this lifetime is just a piece of a larger puzzle.

In a grocery store checkout line recently, I was intrigued by a booklet entitled "Complete Idiot's Guide to Spiritual Healing". In many ways I am a novice in life, and I am not very proud, so I love the "Idiot" books. I already own a few. I paid the $2.50 for the booklet, and haven't read it all yet, but there was a paragraph I flagged in the beginning from the chapter that I liked, "Beginnings, Middles and Ends".

I've been at all of those points with my kids...beginnings as a new mother, middle times when I was raising them, and ends, now, when they are on their own as individuals with their own dreams and values to guide them.

The paragraph I flagged in the "Idiot" booklet said this..."Life is a series of beginnings, middles and ends. Each ending is the start of a new beginning and each beginning is the start of a new ending. Often we have a hard time letting go and trusting the process. We fearfully hold on to something when it is time to let go and miss the joy life has to offer". I agree.

I am so fortunate...I've lost friends to appendix cancer who still had children under 5 years old. I've lost friends who were in the middle, with pre-teen and teen children who still needed their mom. I've lost friends who were never able even to realize their dream of being a mom. One in her 30s died only an hour after I met her in Texas. So many lives cut short. I've lost a lot of friends to appendix cancer; that tempers my empty-nest perspective now.

So I see this empty-nester time as an end of sorts...of my kids needing me less and being less dependent on me, but also a time as a new beginning, for them and for myself. While I feel a sense of loss, I also feel a sense of liberation. For my kids and for me, it is a not so much a time of endings, but of new beginnings. I'm not done yet, and neither are they.

I'm so glad that my kids, and I, have that opportunity. For a new adventure, a new beginning. I am so grateful for this time in our lives.

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