384. What Makes Life Stronger?

So we got on the X-mas train for my parents’ town, 4 hours away, and it wasn’t quite as filled as I feared, but it was no joyride either – with baby Jay and a bunch of other kids.

But after all the ruckus back home and in recent weeks, with the apartment renovation, spots of hours to work and then some free days to catch up on just cleaning up and clearing out … well, it felt good to go to my parents’ home, even if it’s a bit away.

It also felt good to go there for X-mas and that recent tidings indicate that’s going to be a relatively good one. My mum is doing alright, she says, despite the chemo taking its toll. The most difficult (and paradoxical) thing for her is not to see herself as ill. To remind herself this is just a supplementary treatment to raise her chances of not getting ill again.

All things considered, and all other things being equal.

Well, I feel the same way, too. It is a burden and it is something that makes us anxious because we have to think about cancer, because she is taking a cure for cancer – even if she officially doesn’t have it anymore. But as I’ve said before, I think something good can come from this path, which has nothing to do with days or weeks that may or may not be added to this life.

More about how life is lived and how it feels. How can we all go on living knowing that there is this dangerous illness which may come again, and others? We are forced to find a new, stronger answer to that, as are all people. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, as said, and now that my mother has survived this new bout of cancer.

It’s time to look strongly at life, too. What is it we want to do with it? What gives it meaning, depth, resonance, love? How is it possible to experience this despite all the threats, imagined or otherwise – and which we are reminded of when we hear about people who are older or who are on darker paths, with more misery, more pain?

What it is that we can come closer to that makes life stronger, despite the outward signs that it becomes frailer and closer to an ending?

What is it that makes life worth living for, even more?

I have an ex-friend who has now more or less walled himself in. He sits in his apartment all day long. He is a pensioner. He has the occasional cancer-scare, too.

He has some reasons, yes, but overall it has, I will argue, been his own choice to give up and just wall himself in and not reach out for any other life qualities than safety.

Which he can never completely have? How safe is it sitting and watching TV and waiting not to get cancer?

Maybe he won’t get it, but in terms of having a good life experience I think my mother is better at finding that path that makes her life feel stronger, despite all the shadows that chase it.