To passers-by, Andy looked nothing other than his usual magnificent lion-like self: as strong and calm as ever and able to stop you in your tracks with the intensity of his gaze. But to me, his partner, friend and wife, I could sense, hear and feel that the last 6 months had not only etched away a little of this beautiful man’s life force, but so too had it singed his wild mane and scorched him eternally raw.
As we sat across from each other at our favourite little restaurant in Auckland, it was the night before we were due to receive the results that would (hopefully) enable the second season of Spartacus to begin and, more importantly, the night before we would have confirmation that Andy was still very much in remission. And while as positive as ever, but just like anyone else who has been through the experience of living with a disease where not only your mortality is in question, but so too the epic courage, focus and commitment that it takes to embrace, cope with and survive the extraordinary ups and downs of the possible treatments, he began the inevitable conversation of WHAT IF?
I interrupted, firmly but with so much love, knowing that if I had learned anything at all from this current chapter, it was that trying to think things through too thoroughly was nothing more than an avoidance of the fear we were experiencing and that the sooner we jumped into the centre of the moment, the quicker we honed our ability to just BE with whatever the moment offered.
After having felt so very clear, still and present in those past moments that, upon reflection, were and indeed are quite unimaginable to most human beings, I was a little surprised when writing this post to realise that I was rather confronted by own recent wave of ‘how am I gonna make this all work?’ black hole of thinking.
So I guess before I return to my little story, I need to acknowledge that it often takes us being hurtled into the eye of the storm for us to actually access our trust, intuition and willingness to be in the moment, knowing that those moments may be few and far between.
‘I’ve been thinking about getting a new tattoo to mark this crazy chapter,’ I shared, knowing that Andy had been eyeing the tattoo shop that sat nestled above the cafes across the road.
He smiled at me and chuckled, acknowledging the last two small ink jobs that had suddenly appeared on his wife’s body: one after me having dropped Jesse at a kids’ party and the second after an innocent trip to the grocery store, and both absent of his agreement or co-creation. I knew that at first he’d felt a little hurt by my independent and non-inclusive behaviour, but I also knew that he would put that aside, knowing that they were an important reaction and, I suppose, a statement of my commitment to us, our life and the journey that we had found ourselves on.
‘Be here now is what I have been thinking about for a new tattoo.’ I offered.
‘Because being here now, right here, right now, is all we have, hon, and that is what you having cancer has given us. So whatever the outcome tomorrow, whatever the results say, whatever direction our lives take, this is what we know we have and that is where the juicy stuff takes place.’
His blazing eyes, as they so often did, filled with tears, as he squeezed my hands so tightly and without words, spoke of courage, fear, love, loss and the thing that so many of us find so hard to do: to trust. To trust like a surfer who rides the greatest, highest and mightiest of waves and who knows that it is being nothing other than intuitively in the centre of any given moment that will allow you to live, love or die with all that this life has to offer surging through, in and around you.
So lying side by side, the night before the test results came back, the results that would, in fact, inform us that Andy’s cancer was still present and was back with an even greater strength, we both had the words… BE HERE NOW passionately etched onto our arms and into our hearts.
And Andy, the amazing, courageous man that he was, declared through streams of tears that we would make a documentary film sharing the next stage of his life’s journey, whatever the outcome.
So to you, the inspiring collective of wonderful human beings, who have been moved enough by one persons story to stand up and want to make a difference in your own life. Enormous thanks, for your patience, impatience, commitment, challenge and your ongoing support in bringing this documentary to life. I ask you to trust, manifest and BE open to the fact that it will, like everything else in life, appear just at the right time…..