It’s hard to believe that we are already in February of 2015 and that this is only the first post of the year! My intentions were clearly as impatient as they were unrealistic when I hilariously (and maybe foolishly) thought that by taking the kids on an epic adventure to NZ, it would give me boundless opportunity to not only write, but so too to really hit the ground running at the start of the year. Lesson number one: let go of all expectations that don’t align with your capacity to follow through.
Today’s and this year’s starting post is the second of what has been an incredible life lesson that I believe so very deeply needed to be experienced in order for the next chapter of life to have the flow, grace and opportunity that I would like to invite in. It’s written with the same raw and rich transparency that I initially began the blog with nearly 3 years ago and I hope sets the tone for what you will soon see featured on the new Maybe McQueen site as the section known as the Shareportfolio, to be launched in March this year.
Before you read on, it’s important for me to mention that this post is, in fact, one that I’m sharing to inspire and challenge us all to look at where it is that we hold on to the past, instead of using the extraordinary tension between what was and what is, to uncover the opportunity for what could be.
Ways of Seeing
…I remember our first oncologist in New Zealand in 2009 sharing a story about a previous patient of his who, on seeing him from across a busy shopping centre, instantaneously vomited all over the floor. He apparently hadn’t seen her for over three years. And as I stared at this rather lovely and very kind man, with Andy tightly gripping my arm, having just been told how easily he would cope with the treatment, I could never imagine myself feeling anything other than gratitude for this collaboration. But over the weekend, and in fact twice already this month, in another country and in a very different place, I was offered up the unexpected opportunity to experience just how very powerful memory recall really can be.
With the sun rising above us and Jesse chattering away in the back seat, with his fittingly red BMX glistening awkwardly beside him with its ‘newness’, we set off to go break it, and him, in. As I took directions through a part of Sydney unfamiliar to me, I suddenly found myself engulfed by a dark and overwhelming feeling, and my mind, in a desperate attempt to stop crashing into the brick wall of pain that it recognised far before I did, began violently signaling the DANGER sign. My right leg started to twitch with the intensity of the ‘flight or fight’ response and a raging and terrified voice inside my head began screaming, ‘Turn back, turn back!’ But it was too late, I was in a place that I had not been in for a very long time.
To my right I saw the grey stone which always reminded me of a prison from a different century, where terrible things most likely once took place. I saw the huddle of smokers sucking in their sadness as they braced themselves to deal with life’s unexpected turns and I smelled the disinfectant of the translucent and tired looking cleaners who somehow were always freshly mopping a cocktail of lime, vomit and bleach smelling fluids over the polished and cold concrete floor. And in my mind I saw Andy’s eyes, blue as the ocean but as dark as the sea with its sparkle stolen, his once burning presence having grown so very weak.
Sitting in the car, clutching the steering wheel, my eyes filled with tears and my stomach lurched: I wanted to retch with the violent abduction that my mind and body was experiencing. But somehow, as I honoured the need to focus on the road ahead, physically and metaphorically, and we turned off the hospital road, I began to see, feel and think once again about what was actually taking place in the present and all around me. I heard the excited enthusiasm of my fearless son, who so eagerly delighted in his not knowing what lay ahead and the possible crashes, bruises and scrapes that he would and will experience. I felt the gentle but very strong presence of the man who I am currently ‘walking beside’ as he calmly and slowly asked me, ‘Are you alright?’ after having realised that his directions had accidentally brought me to a road that I no longer travel down.
And I took a big, deep breath and asked myself the same question: ‘Are you alright?’
On a daily basis, I actually drive past the hospice close to where the cubs and I live, and where Andy actually took his big, beautiful last breath of life and every single time I am filled with the same sense of just how incredible the gift of life really is, however long or short it happens to be. I think about the fact that his eyes sparkled again on the day that he died and that I stole a walk in the park in the sunshine, as his father arrived from the UK, while I ate for the first time in three days, a muffin with baked apple and coconut and a delicious long black cup of coffee. It was a time that will remain precious and poignant in my mind, for as long as I able to recall it; the time where both he and I knew that the end and the beginning had become one and that finally after 3 whole years, not only his life, but his death too, belonged to no one other than him.
The memory recall of our emotional experience can be more than overwhelming in our lives. And for some, there are daily reminders which can make life feel as though it is one harsh and relentless mountain range to stagger across, without any real purpose or reason to climb.
So today’s share is about inviting, inspiring and challenging you to acknowledge the incredible power and intensity of your thoughts, of your focus and of mindfulness. And to remember that out there, everything will continue to grow with the unfathomable and brilliant cycle of life.
And just like Jesse who, on his shiny, red BMX, had the most epic stack off a five foot drop, with his ribs bruised and his stomach winded, I, like he, stood right back up with a knowing that life is about the willingness to risk the pain of the unknown in pursuit of the adventures of what life has to offer.