I am a three-time cancer survivor. My last radiation treatment was on September 11, 2001. As I stood in the patient area waiting to talk to the doctor about my last radiation treatment, I was feeling buoyant. I had been officially declared cancer free. I was on top of the world.
When waiting anywhere, my attention is usually split between browsing emails, listening to music and reading eBooks. A change in the background noise captured my attention. I looked up at the television and saw footage of the first plane striking one of the Twin Towers. The speed in which my feelings dropped from joy to despair left me woozy. I called out to one of the hospital staff to explain to me what I was seeing on the television screen.
A young doctor walked over and stood there with me. With wide eyes, he turned to look at me and then back at the screen. Then the news announcer said, “a plane has just struck the second tower.”
Just that quickly, I felt as though my new lease on life was at the cost of others. That’s not the case, I know, but it definitely felt that way. Believe me, being spared on a day when so many others were not gives an entirely new spin on survivor’s guilt.
That event moved me to think of another loss that I never properly grieved and I have always lamented. My mom passed a year after I graduated high school. I was still trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Ultimately I would go on to graduate from DePaul University with a degree in Computer Science. From there I decided to join Accenture as a technology consultant and traveled the world for work over several years.
About 10 years ago I reached the milestone where I surpassed the age my mom was when she died. It was a rough year for me but I also learned something about myself. I tend to take on more than my share of responsibility. And most importantly, I may be motherless but I am not rudderless. My friends and family ground me and keep me headed in the right direction.
With each day I live, there are moments of grace.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mountaintops and Valleys.” Describe a time when you quickly switched from feeling at the top of the world to sinking all the way down (or vice versa). Did you learn anything about yourself in the process?