I fell in love with them as babies, because they were babies and I was ready to love a baby. Then, as they grew I got to know them as individuals. Now I love them as individuals. I love them and I'm constantly surprised and delighted by the individuals that they are becoming. Yes, it was love at first sight, but that’s not the whole story
Thursday morning. My last full day at Camp Comfort. It's a lovely, bright sunny morning. Today I'm going to walk down the railway the other way, or down the old road, either one, take a walk in that opposite direction. Out for half an hour and then back. My every other day, one hour walk to get in shape for - life. And also for radiation. This is me getting my body as strong as I can for that.
Yesterday I did the core exercises, and upper body strength building exercises. And I ended it with a nice little bit of meditation. And I began it with dancing wildly around the living room. It felt really good at the time. Now my body feels like I worked it yesterday, muscles a bit stiff and sore. I was right about the diaraha too/though. It's gone now. Completely. Back to normal poohs again.
I am just being open as I do the meditation and I found it was not exactly the joy I thought it would be. It is not a return to that childhood light easy joy. I would still say joy. I would still say that there is a layer of joy coming through to me now. But it's layered on top of the love, protection and strength. So it has a different "texture" to it than a childish innocent joy that takes love and protection for granted, that hasn't learned a reason to need strength yet. This is a 'dark' joy that comes through. This is a 'knowing' joy. I'd still call it joy. And maybe there is even more wonder associated with it now. I'll just have to keep practising and see where it takes me, see what it becomes. Looking forward to it. A good reason to keep up with those core exercises and the breathing, relaxing, body check up and meditation finale.
Yesterday I got started slowly. I fiddled around longer on Facebook and email. I wrote for longer. I made a good breakfast of bacon, eggs and baguette. It was after noon before I finished my morning meal, showered, exercised and dressed. I was tired. So I had a nap. I didn't get started on my 'day' until 2:30 in the afternoon. Pingu was even worse than me. She stayed upstairs in the bed until nearly 4:00pm. Every time I went up there she started kneading the covers and purred at me. She did not care about bacon cooking downstairs. Cats are not like dogs. She cared about being in a warm comfy bed with covers to knead. She was happy with that. She is a sweetie and I am falling in love. It is fun and surprising to fall in love now.
Falling in love. Falling in love with my husband in my forties. Falling in love with the grandchildren, three new babies to fall in love with during my fifties. Falling in love with Moose in my forties and losing him in my fifties. The other side of love. Grief. Mourning. Falling in love with Pingu here in Camp Comfort in my sixties, discovering a new love in the middle of cancer treatment. Love is like that. Unexpected. Not guaranteed. You can't force it. I did not fall in love with Tiger. He's a nice cat, and he's injured, he probably needs to come home with me more than Pingu does right now. But I didn't fall in love with him. He didn't fall in love with me and I didn't fall in love with him.
Pingu and I fell in love on trust. I know cats and trust in cat love. She knows humans and trusts in human love. That is what started it. It wasn’t personal yet. I thought she might be a loveable cat, and she thought I might be a loveable human. We were both open to the idea of loving each other. We were both ready to love each other across species like that. And so we started. We started with the pats, and the purrs. We started with the rubbing up on legs, and the feeding. We started sleeping in the same bed. We started being deeply asleep, safe in our 'den' together. And we are starting to get to know each other. Our distinct personalities as a cat and as a human. We fell in love first because we were both looking to fall in love and we saw each other. We gave it a chance. Now, and only now are we getting to know each other as individuals. Does love always work that way?
Is that how I fell in love with my husband, we were both ready and looking for love? We fell in love first on a trust in love between a man and a woman, and then we started to get to know each other as individuals after that? For sure this is how I fell in love with my grandchildren. I fell in love with them as babies, because they were babies and I was ready to love a baby. Then, as they grew I got to know them as individuals. Now I love them as individuals. I love them and I'm constantly surprised and delighted by the individuals that they are becoming. I guess the love does come first.
And this is interesting because all up until now I thought it went the other way. You fell in love with people because you knew them, as you got to know them, the things that made them individual is what made you fall in love with them as opposed to anybody else. Perhaps it truly is only that you are ready to fall in love, and they are ready to fall in love, and you are both ready to trust it. You are both ready to trust that it will be okay to be in love. And then for that love to grow. Infatuation. Perhaps it always starts with infatuation first.
The difference between me and Tiger, and me and Pingu? I saw it yesterday when T came over and Pingu was here. Tiger is already in love. Tiger loves T. Pingu does not care about T one way or the other. T feels responsibility for her, but he doesn't especially love her. That is why I fell in love with Pingu and not Tiger. Even injured Tiger would rather be with T. Those two are bonded. Pingu is not.
I will miss Pingu when I leave here. I will dream of her sleeping on the next pillow between me and my husband as I go through the summer and radiation. She will be okay here and I won't be worried about her. But when it starts to get cold I'll come and get her. One way or the other. I won't let her be cold and stuck in that barn for another winter. She will come and live with us then. Our love will continue then. She is twelve years old now. Cats live sixteen to eighteen years. So we could have another four to six years together if all goes well. For both of us. I will be nearly seventy years old when she is an old cat and ready to die. Unless this cancer gets me first that is a reasonable lifetime expectation for both of us. It will be nice to have a cat for these transition years.
A new thing has come into my life in the middle of all this cancer trauma. A new love even in this time of loss. I've lost a lot this winter. I need to fight to get my health back. I need to fight to keep what health I have after the chemo and the surgery. It's good to have something new come into my life. Some of it was shopping. The new bedding, the bottle garden, the new clothes. But that was a small bit of new compared to a new love like this little orange cat. Purry little Pingu. What a sweetie.
After my nap, I got up and made the rhubarb tarts. I invented the recipe. I made the pies as little galettes. And they weren't perfect, some of the sides fell down, but they were delicious, and the colour was red and inviting and the rhubarb and strawberries were a good combination of flavour, and the richness of the butter pastry was perfect with the tartness of the spring fruit. Next time I would chop the rhubarb even smaller and I would make them in the little tart tins. It would be perfect.
And so while I've been here I've perfected two new rhubarb recipes. And I should write them down. The rhubarb juice recipe. And the rhubarb tart recipe. And I've solved the Doukhobour style fruit tarts now too. I've figured out how they do that combination of little cooked fruit and less 'sauce' to make an almost raw fresh fruit tart. It's just coat the fruit in the 'bakers sugar' which is just cornstarch mixed with sugar. Let is sit and 'macerate' so it's not so wet, then scoop out the fruit and put it open face into the tart shell. It works. I can do this with all the fruits as they come in season all summer long. If only I weren’t having radiation every day.
Yes, I have felt my Doukhobor roots while I was here. I expect to see some stinging nettles and make a nice early season nettle soup tonic to go with this rhubarb feast. A prairie Doukhobor life. Living on the land, with the land in that way. It's been really satisfying for me to be here and doing this.
Once the house was tidy, and the desert was made, the sun came out and I went outside for an hour. A whole hour in the sun. Late in the day, between 4 and 5 pm and sun came and went behind clouds that whole time. I did not get any kind of a burn or tan. I wore my soft shorts, a camisole t-shirt, and I had the green shirt to wear over that.
My sister and I had some texts back and forth. And I got up to take pictures of the irises and the butterflies at the lakeshore. She loved them. She asked me to take more pictures because she wanted too paint this scene. So I took a lot of pictures. And I took a couple of videos too, because they show the action better, the business of the butterflies and the irises blowing in the breeze. It was pretty. The light on the flowers and butterflies, and the darkness of the lake water behind them was a painters dream.
My husband and I just had a little text back and forth. I sent a picture of my leftover artichoke dip breakfast, and told him about the storm last night, and said how it was fun to watch it from the big comfy bed upstairs and I wished he'd been there to share it. Pingu didn't share my sense of wonder at the storm, at the first big clap of thunder she found a hiding spot under the bed. I enjoyed it by myself in the comfort of the bed, through the skylight. And I fell asleep to the thunder and lightening flashes and periodical torrents of pouring rain.
All quiet, mix of sun, cloud and light rain this morning.
George is off on a big film production day today. Big hairy day for my replacement at the office job too I'm sure. And I am enjoying another quiet one here at Camp Comfort. I am in the middle of cancer treatments. I did not think I would be in such bad shape at this stage when I started treatments. I thought at the very worse, that treatment would be all over, that I would be fine for a while at least and that I would hop on a plane and go to Saskatoon and partake of the conference like a regular delegate. I thought it would be my 'star' return and everybody would be happy to have me back. That is what I thought.
I did not know how sick I would still feel. I did not know that my hair would only be peach fuzz. I did not know that my finger nails would be black and trying to fall off. I did not know the my eyelashes would be turned in and rubbing on my lower eyeballs. I did not know I would gain twenty pounds. All of these things discourage me from going to the conference. I will look like shit, I will feel like shit. I won't be able to maintain a full conference day, even as a mere delegate. I'd have to go lie down for a nap after lunch. And I would have to go to bed early at the end of the social events. It would not be a triumphant return showing how I've recovered and am ready to take over the reins again. It would just prove the opposite if I did try to show up.
And I am a bit afraid that in fact I may not be able to ever do this job again after all. I need to be able to start working at it full time this fall at the latest. I can't do it now. I know that. I'm not well enough now. And I still have up to six weeks of possible drastic radiation to go through between now and September. I might not be able to do it. I might have to give up. I might have to quit. It is too much to ask them to wait any longer than that for me to recover. They may not give me the option anyway.
In the meantime, I have this last day on my own here at Camp Comfort. Do my range of motion exercises. Have a shower, get dressed and head out for my morning walk. One hour down either the tracks or the old road. There and back for an hour. New things to see. My big fear? Somebody’s pet dog will jump out barking and scare the shit out of me. That's it for that. Fear wise.
Then. A bit of writing or a bit of reading. Out in the sun with my bare skin again later on too. And start cleaning up, packing up, making plans to get home. We are nearly at the end here.
Dispatched: June 13