Lymphomaniacs. That’s my dear husband’s name for this little old sheepdog, Nell, and me. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Well, it turns out that I have exactly the same kind of lymphoma, happily caught early and confined to exactly the same lymph nodes. I’ve heard of people growing to look like their dogs, but this is maybe a little excessive. The good news is that, at almost 12 years old, she is fully recovered and running around like a pup, full of wags and wellbeing, lording it over another fine flock of sheep. I’m counting on that being a good sign too; I’m told the prognosis is good and the cure rate, these days, high.
In the meantime, normal service is likely to be interrupted over the next six months and more; lymphoma chemotherapy is particularly brutal. I’m thinking of it as just one more rite of passage here on the rocky threshold of elderhood, and wondering if a leopardskin coat like Nell had during her hair loss days would be a suitable lucky charm.
You won’t see me doing many online events (or in-person events, should that ever become possible again) this year; I’m going to be taking some radical rest time, and focusing on finishing Hagitude, which seems to be an especially apposite project during this time.
If ever such a thing was going to happen, I guess this weirdest of all possible years is the year for it. Meanwhile: onwards. Soon, there will be little black lambs in the field, and the world is still full of heart and beauty. Every moment, no matter how challenging, matters; every breakage is an opportunity for mending. And I am comforted, always, by Rilke, and planning on turning myself to wine.
LET THIS DARKNESS BE A BELLTOWER
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.