Monday, April 16, 2007

Window through Time

Hospital room windowLarge windows, small windows, high-up windows, low to the ground windows, screened windows – I looked through them all. Some windows stared at other parts of the hospital campus, whereas others watched over the world, waiting patiently for Nature to make her next move. I saw the complete cycle of seasons, from fall all the way back to fall again. The brief period of deciduous trees releasing their brilliant colors. The swirling of those colors in the cold air, before resting on the ground. The naked trees waiting for the winter to end so they can sprout back to life. The snow flurries that transform the sky into a white galaxy. The world seemingly coming to life, leaving the trees not-so-naked anymore. The steady rain that clinks against the window. The heavy rain that pounds against the window. The lightning that electrifies the window. The thunder that shakes the window. And then it starts all over again.

Looking back at cancer #1, the anticipation of leaving the hospital and joining the world began as soon as I entered the darkness of the parking garage for another cycle of chemo. It didn’t end until I was out of the garage, face-to-face with whatever Nature decided to produce. It was freedom, for however long until the next hospital visit.

There aren’t many things I’m absolutely sure of anymore. But this I know – the world outside that window was better than inside.

Looking through the window another way provides a different story. It was the same window and the same view, just a different point in time.

I saw the future without cancer.

Looking through it this way, the world on the outside often seemed so far away. The time to reach freedom was much longer than the two or five-day cycles. In this particular case it was precisely one year. And like before, I sometimes reflect on which is better – inside or outside the window.

An unbiased observer would be quick to assume the outside world is better.

Having cancer versus being cancer-free… it’s a no-brainer, right?

Not necessarily. Having cancer, and even staying in the hospital for that matter, wasn’t all bad. Activities, feelings, and emotions were all heightened.

Getting released from the hospital brought extreme relief.

Rehab brought extreme pain.

Eating real food brought extreme joy.

Knowing I had an entire year of that fucking shit brought extreme despair.

With cancer, I felt truly excited doing activities that nowadays I merely consider normal. Does that mean I now take things for granted – something I told myself I would never do again?

Sometimes memories are changed, for better or worse. Maybe the way I actually felt when I was 16 has been construed in favor of more positive experiences because my mind wants me to think that.

I don’t know the answer. There’s no way for me to go back in time and gauge my level of happiness at different periods of my life.

Hopefully when I’m old and gray I’ll know which side of the Window through Time is better.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and almost poetic. I couldn't resist leaving that comment. Mom

Marion said...

You're a thinker, Ben, and my heart goes out to you. I feel you're a very brave young man, and I truly enjoy your writing!

I'll be the meantime, I'll keep you in my prayers.

Shane I said...

Hi there, this is my first visit to your blog. I lost my dad to cancer in December, and it's good to hear stories of others who have overcome it. You write well, and I'll visit again!

Shane I

Anonymous said...

ben i remember when you sent me emails saying that you had a new appreciation for nature and weather and the leaves and the grass...that medicinal mary jane must have been good stuff...obviously i am joking but it was cool to hear to you talk about real stuff like that...this is maybe my favorite post of yours...holler at your girl