Lightly My Darling, Completely Unencumbered

Lightly child, lightly. 

I have been repeating Aldous Huxley’s words over and over in my head for days. It’s become my mantra, a reminder that it’s okay to lay low and go slow.

Entering month five of treatment, my lab work has remained stable as my physical condition has declined. At time of posting, I’m meeting with my infectious disease doctor to discuss inpatient intravenous anti-fungal treatment. My father-in-law, a retired doctor, said it’s the same medication used in chemotherapy.

Deep breath. 

It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.

There is a good chance that my five-year anniversary with my boyfriend will likely not be spent hiking, as is our tradition. It’s likely that all my hair will have fallen out by my thirtieth birthday. For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, I may be sleeping at the dinner table.

I must simply let things happen, walking lightly along the stepping stones of my life, and cope with the events as they present themselves.

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.
No rhetoric, no tremolos,
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.

In reading through The Untethered Soul, one of the final chapters claims that death is our liberator, for it reminds us to live each moment more fully. A wise person realizes that their next exhale may not be followed by an inhale, and they thus makes every single minute that they’re gifted count.

I am starting to come to terms with all of the unintended things that may lie ahead. I have a loving boyfriend, a supportive family, and knowledgeable doctors. I’m in good hands, and I’m not focused on the 28% hovering above my head. I have a 72% chance of being A-okay, and I know that I will be.

So throw away your baggage and go forward.
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling,
on tiptoes and no luggage,
not even a sponge bag,
completely unencumbered.

It’s easy to succumb to stressors, self-pity, and despair. Yet, I am am choosing–actively, in each moment–to rise above the fear. I am choosing to throw away all of that baggage and move forward.

I keep reminding myself that true strength comes from gentleness and compassion. Recovery from my greatest adversity hinges on loving self-care, on treating myself with the same understanding and empathy I would a young child.

Lightly child, lightly. 

7 thoughts on “Lightly My Darling, Completely Unencumbered

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  1. Wonderfully written, it is the heavy that allows us to know the the light. When you shoulder the heavy and write encouraging words as these you become the light. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Mel. I find it interesting that the heaviness seems so insurmountable at surface-level, but the more I pry away those outer layers, the more evident it becomes that struggle is what builds strength; working through the heaviness is what brings light to the surface. 🙂

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  2. Wow, never realized chemo is given for illnesses outside cancer. How similar our path is indeed, dear friend. I’m so proud of you for choosing to live as positively as possible…I know it’s not always easy. Sending you nothing but good vibes!

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    1. I dig some digging into my father-in-law’s claim, and found some clarification: amphotericin B is part of the “chemo cocktail” and helps prevent fungal infections in cancer patients, whose comprised immune systems are particularly susceptible; so, it’s used in conjunction with other treatment. Thankfully, we’re sticking to my current regimen for a bit, unless things worsen. It’s quite scary to even be faced with that possibility, which I know that you fully understand. Thanks for the good vibes! Sending them right back your way!

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