(Or What Would I Do If It Was The Last Thing I Did)
I wish I had been writing more over the last 6 months. I wish that I could recall with more clarity exactly how I felt when the doctor called and told me that the very small remote possibility we had talked about was indeed my fate. I wish I didn’t have a brain tumor.
Lots of wishes. But if wishes were horses… so as I have said recently… I am moving from the wish to the willing. Today, I am willing to write 1000 words. Today, I am willing to get up and live my life with the understanding that I do have a brain tumor.
For those of you who may not know, it has been just over six months since I found out that I have a small (1 cm ) acoustic neurmoa inside my IAC (inner auditory canal ) on the right side. I am about to have a follow up MRI to see if there has been any change. Is it the same size? Bigger? Smaller? What has my little friend been up to? We shall see.
But setting aside all of the things I do not remember, I did have a moment of clear thought about one thing. I remember thinking that I could die. Holy #$%&, this could kill me. Even just going in to have the MRI, I was freaking out about the kind of contrast agent (gadolinium) that they had to inject into my bloodstream to be able to get a clear scan. I had to sign a waiver saying that I understood the odds of dying from the injection were roughly 1 in 200,000. (.000005%) Pretty slim chances of anything happening really. But about 3,000 people in the US a year are diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma so with around 313 million people my odds there were 1 in 100,000ish (or.000009%) and that happened. So anything is possible.
Here are some other things I googled:
Odds of winning the lottery: 1 in 175 million
Odds of being killed by a shark : 1 in 3.7 million
Odds of a dying from the flu: 1 in 63
Like I said I was freaking out. But looking at those numbers now, I think maybe we should all spend more money on our getting our health dialed in and less money on lottery tickets.
But honestly, I was thinking about the fact that I might die. I began to think about the idea of having brain surgery. I started thinking that I could die in the operating room. (I think there is a 2-5% risk there?).
And still, I constantly have the Mark Twain quote running around my head….There are lies. damned lies, and statistics….so who knows what our chances are of anything really?
What I am really saying is I was scared.
And that brought me around to considering the idea that this could actually be my last year on earth and I thought about what I would do if it was the last thing I did. And what came to me wasn’t some long bucket list. It wasn’t some trip or experience. It was a gift. It was my ideas about life and all of the things that I can’t yet express to a 5 year old girl. Or an 11 year old boy. At least not in any real terms that they would understand.
Now maybe all of this sounds very irrational. After all, many people have had brain surgery and they are doing all right. I have spoken with some of them. But today I was reminded that it is never the things that we can prepare for that change our lives forever.
We have a friend of our family who just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a few weeks ago and only a few days later she suffered a brain aneurism and went into a coma. She passed away a few days ago. My heart broke when I first hear the story and my whole being hurts for their family right now. Holy #$%&. YOU NEVER KNOW.
Yes, I had to allow myself to think that that this could kill me as a way to cope. Yes, I will die someday. But it could be for another reason entirely. We never know. But I can say that finding out about the tumor only accelerated my thinking about what I would leaved behind for my children. And then I remembered something Will Durant phrased very clearly that I have carried with me ever since I first read it:
“If a man is fortunate he will, before he dies, gather up as much as he can of his civilized heritage and transmit it to his children.”
I realized that the idea I had stored in Evernote over the last year or so could become that thing for me. That is why I sat down and wrote the Rules of the Road. I wanted to give my children a roadmap to help them navigate the chaos of the world. A map to follow when they need it and a way to help them how to build their own roads when the way is not clear. A torch that they can pick up and carry with them when the unseen future is darker than they ever thought it could be. A foundation to build on and pass onto the next generation that will follow. Inspiration to encourage them to create anything that they can imagine.
Yes, I am very aware that they have their own wills and their own destinies to explore. And I think that each one of us already has everything we need stored inside the cells of our being , but we also all need reminders from time to time and if I can share just a little bit of what I have learned on my own journey and it reminds them of what they already know deep down and it allows them to know that I struggled too and we are all connected and here is what got me through the tough times, that these were the things that helped me see my own true self, then it will be an endeavor worth everything I can put into it.
But as I have been working on DTR it has also struck me that I might live longer than a year, and I have realized that I could use this same idea in the here and now to inspire others to create the amazing things that are as yet unborn. Unbuilt. Undreamed.
So this year I am dedicating myself to the craft of storytelling. My own and others. And in that spirit, I am beginning to develop a podcast to be able share the inspiring stories of others. I hope the stories will inspire us all to live our lives now and not wait.
To dream it and to do it.
Our time here is short and every moment is precious. Every inhale and every exhale. Every smile and every tear. We can all start with one small thing. We can all take one small step. Write one thing down. That’s how DTR was born. I wrote down an idea and now it is in the stages of becoming. What can you do today that will put you one step further along the road you have been dreaming about? It doesn’t need to be perfect. I am learning to strive for awareness not perfection. So in the new year may we all go, do, be. And then become.