Friday, November 24, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0366 - Anniversary

Friday was the anniversary of my initial diagnosis of rectal cancer by the gastroenterogist who performed my first ever colonoscopy. From the previous evening to late Friday evening, it seemed as though events were conspiring to remind me of how precarious life truly is, yet at the same time acknowledging how precious is the time we have.

On Thursday evening, my wife and I watched Grey's Anatomy, one of the best medical dramas on television these days. But you can't watch shows like that without thinking about life and death and being reminded of time spent in a hospital. I also called a family member during the day to arrange a weekend dinner of our families. During that conversation I was told of a possible sarcoma on the kidney of her spouse, in addition to the many other medical troubles he has experienced over the past ten years or so.

Friday morning, one of my colleagues wanted to talk about putting down his dog because of cancer. Later that day, another colleague came in to work for a short period of time, stealing a few moments away from his significant other who is battling breast cancer and who had just undergone day surgery earlier in the week to remove one of her breasts and some lymph nodes (which turned out to be malignant) under her arm. Two more reminders.

Then, Friday evening, I attended the First Annual HIV/AIDS Requiem held at our parish church. It was an interfaith remembrance service dedicated to the many who are struggling with AIDS and the many who have already succumbed to the disease. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians of a variety of denominations were all represented. The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, and the bishop of the Huron diocese, Robert Bennett, were also there. And the choir of St. George's Anglican Church sang selections from Faure's Requiem throughout the service. Again, reminders of death, disease, and the value of community were all present in that experience.

Before and after the service, there were many hugs and kisses as parishioners and friends made a point of talking to me and asking how I was doing. So, no matter how much emotional intensity I had felt over the past 24 hours or so, the healing of interpersonal contact was there too.

It's been a long year, a tough year, one that I hope I never have to experience again. But, when I stop to think about how I've changed and what is important to me now, I think this year was also one of great personal growth and illumination. I have never felt closer to my family and more loved than I do now. Whatever the level of infirmity I have undergone and continue to experience, those blessings more than make up for the troubles of 2006.

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