“There is a kind of magic-ness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”
~ Kate Douglas Wiggin
Hello, beautiful friends!
So, here I am, back in Australia once more. Can I admit to being a little misty-eyed when my husband Ben pulled up outside Brisbane International Airport to pick me up last night, and I spied two madly grinning dogs hanging out the car windows waiting to greet me?
I am so tired. To look from the outside, all I have to show for my time away is a mountain of dirty washing, a serious supply of tasty Philippines dried Mango and notebooks crammed full with ideas, plans and action-steps for the months ahead. But so much more than that has transpired. I’ve been able to reach a place of clarity about what matters to me, and where I want to place my attention. I have met some amazing people and made new friends. While I am exhausted from all of this living, I am also thrilled to have been able to adventure at all!
It has been an emotional few weeks. As I took a boat ride in Cebu on Thursday, the cool salt water peeling off the sides of the outrigger in plumes, I had just as much salt streaming down my face in the form of tears of gratitude. Honestly, there have been so many times in the past few years when I wondered if a trip like this would ever be possible again, let alone solo. There is nothing like the prospect of death to make life taste sweet and to make you hyper-aware of what really matters.
Thanks to the care and efforts of others I have coped fabulously on this trip. I’ve also managed myself and my illness mindfully. I parented myself to do things such as miss the welcome drinks and opt for an early night instead so that I would be fresh for the next morning’s work. There were adjustments and accommodations to be made in order that I coped. That’s okay. I do that anyway in my life here in Australia.
Meanwhile here at home I have 3247 unread emails to attend to (I should NOT have turned on my work computer in a post-midnight bout of jetlag-induced insomnia), and innumerable phone messages and mail to sort. I have blog posts to write and students to attend to, and calls to return.
And I will get to all of it. Eventually. If you are one of the 3247 emails, or the 271 facebook messages, please be patient. I have triaged you all in the middle of the night, and will contact you in order of urgency.
But first I am going to focus on what matters most.
This morning my attention is on my little family, whom I missed with all my heart. After endless yes-I-am-really-here-now cuddles with Nurse Bert who can’t quite believe that I am home and who keeps checking in with his nose or paw on some part of my body every few minutes, I am heading out with Ben and Cafe Dog for some breakfast and a proper Australian coffee, made with fresh milk and espresso and a whole lot of barista magic.
After which we’ll do a few city-based errands and I’ll make one important visit before packing the ute to head home to the farm.
Do you remember me telling you about Liz, who was recently diagnosed with end-stage ovarian cancer? My friend Liz arrived home to Australia on Sunday, and was admitted to hospital early last night after collapsing at home.
Luckily I was up and awake at 1.30am when her husband rang to let me know. Liz and her family had a wonderful holiday in Hawaii – the most magical holiday they have ever experienced – and everything went incredibly well. But Liz used up the last of her good days making those special memories. Scans have revealed that the cancer in Liz’s brain is causing problems that can’t be fixed, so it looks like she will now remain in palliative care as her doctors think she may only have days left to live, based on her rapid downhill progress in the past 24 hours.
No regrets, she told her husband as they were taking her off in the ambulance.
No regrets, he told me, when we talked for hours last night about life and death and getting your priorities straight.
Today I need to see my friend, and say goodbye.
So, you see, everything else can wait just a little bit longer.
I’m feeling just a little teary and heart-sore this morning.
And something else…
I am so filled up on life. I am so grateful for every single breath, every single moment, every single connection.
It’s precious and fragile, this crazy journey we are on. Dig deep, my darlings. Find your own heart-path and live a life that matters to you. No regrets. <3