I have absolutely no idea where I will be when Dec 31, 2015 rolls around. Very ill? Very healthy? Somewhere in between? With a new liver? With my same, sick liver? Dead? These are all distinct possibilities.
I incorporated a New Years ritual suggested to me by one of my favorite fellow PSCers into one of my regular beachcombing excursions at the dawn of 2015. I wrote down all the things I was worried about on little pieces of paper (biodegradable paper, of course) and sorted them into two piles: 1) Things I Can Control, and 2) Things I Cannot Control.
The Thing I Can Control pile contained precisely three pieces of paper.
The Things I Cannot Control Pile was a mini Everest.
I filled my pockets with Things I Cannot Control and walked down to the beach. When I got to one of my favorite outcropping of rocks I read each one out loud, crumpled it up, and threw it in the emerald-green waves. Here is a random sample:
That they will find liver / bile duct cancer that would mean I am not eligible for transplant.
That some other health issue will crop up that will mean I am no longer eligible for transplant.
That I will fail the psychological component of the transplant testing and they will take my incapacity for denial and dark humour as signs that I am, in fact, clinically insane (and therefore, no longer eligible for transplant).
That I will die during the transplant surgery (my doctor took great pains to drive home the point that 10-12% of people do not make it through the actual surgery itself).
That if I survive the transplant surgery my body will try to reject the new liver.
And so on and so forth...
Soon, there was a flotilla of Thing I Cannot Control papers bobbing around in the water. I began to climb towards the next beach but, when I looked over my shoulder, I saw that instead of floating out to sea the Things I Cannot Control were hugging close to shore, following me like an attacking fleet from the Napoleonic wars. I grabbed a nearby piece of driftwood to splash them away.
"Go away!" I shouted. "Shoo!" Sweat broke out on my forehead. These Things I Cannot Control were stalking me. I wanted them GONE.
I scrambled across the rock, hopped down onto the next beach, and found a bigger piece of driftwood. I lay in wait for the flotilla to come around the curve of the rock.
I waited there, with my driftwood weapon poised for battle, for several minutes before I started to feel like a complete dork. The flotilla still did not round the corner of the rock as expected. Where had it gone?
I hopped up back on the rock where I had thrown the papers to get a better vantage point. My eyes scanned the green waves but the Flotilla had simply vanished.
Where had they gone? Had they sunk? Had they floated off in another direction? One thing was certain, they had disappeared.
And then, on the top of that rock at my favorite beach I experienced an overwhelming wave of peace. I was going to be okay. I didn't know how, or what path would take me to okay, but I knew I was going to be okay.
Now, while Dread and me are childhood friends, I have just met Faith in passing. I would describe her as a "recent acquaintance".
My knee jerk reaction was to doubt my moment of grace, to try to explain it, to shoo it away just like my paper flotilla of uncertainty. As much as the Things I Cannot Control were scary, daring to have faith in the unknown was weirdly even scarier.
I know, deep in my soul, that learning to have faith - even when all signs point to the contrary - is one of the lessons I am supposed to learn in this lifetime. To have faith when there is no proof to support it. To have faith that all is unfolding as it is should. To have faith that everything makes sense on some higher plane that my human brain is simply not equipped to comprehend.
Yet Faith still scares the bejesus out of me.
Still, I thanked the ocean for taking care of my Things I Cannot Control for me. I wouldn't say my Flotilla of Doubt had transformed into a Flotilla of Faith yet, but it was a start.