Monday, June 23, 2008

Getting Away

“Getting away from it all” is probably a pretty universal desire in the human experience. We all have a need to rest, relax, refresh, and re-create from the ordinary stressors of life. But the concept of “getting away” has taken on a different meaning in this cancer journey. There is of course no way to escape the reality of the situation. Susan’s symptoms – tremors, memory problems, constipation, balance issues, neuropathies, dry mouth, anxiety, attention deficit and the like – are always with her. The knowledge of what is happening also dominates what would otherwise be a routine life. But we’re learning alternative ways to “get away” in body and spirit. Our backyard is a good place to start. On a warm, sunny day (we get a lot of those) just 40 feet outside our back door, we can sit in the shade and listen to the birds and the fountain and the wind rustling through the trees. We can gaze at the wonderful variety of plants and colors – the fruits of 11 years of Susan’s gardening efforts. We can lose ourselves in a book or daydream while knitting. We can close our eyes and doze into never-never-land. (My new Father’s Day hammock is especially nice for that.) It’s a sanctuary for all living things. A squirrel made himself at home not six feet away from me yesterday while I was reading (Casey was inside at the time). We have fox, ducks, and raccoons passing through from time to time in this suburban environment where you might least expect it.

Looking back through time is something of a getaway too. We’ve been going through 30+ years of photos together. God bless Susan for keeping them organized in albums! Memories have come flooding back as we recall the circumstances of various pictures that record our history together – and realize how rich our lives have been. We both marvel at how young and skinny we used to be!

We have always enjoyed traveling – literally getting away. Many of the memories we’ve created, especially over the last five years have involved wonderful places offering expanded perspectives about our human history and diversity. However, long distance travel and especially air travel, has become more difficult and complicated for all of us, let alone for people with special needs. But short trips are still pretty doable. We especially enjoy roaming in the Rocky Mountain region – Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Estes Park has been one of our favorite spots over the years. Just being in a different environment – a really beautiful one at that – for a couple of days is something we relish. After only a couple of hours of driving, we are suddenly in a different world. It makes it easier to “get away” if you’re soaked in the splendor of a special place.

For us, the idea of getting away has evolved from just planning a major family vacation or a long trip to include something as simple as a latte at the local coffee shop. It’s probably as much about the choice to “be away” in our heads as it is about taking our bodies physically “away”. It takes some effort to do the head thing. While it’s only 40 feet to the sanctuary of our backyard, it’s also only 40 feet from all kinds of things that could distract us from our respite. But the very thing that requires the need for rest – this unwelcome cancer journey – also gives us the gift of perspective, making it easier to see the need to make the effort. I think this “paradoxical gift” has helped Susan decide to focus on quality vs. quantity of life – and we are all the better for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing insights! Thanks for sharing and giving these special gifts. I honor your family and all that you are dealing with! My best to you! Mike Delzer