When I’m knitting, at least I know I can do it over. If I make a mistake, I can un-knit the stitches, even start over completely if I want to. I can look at the row below, see a purl where a knit should be, and repair it right there, before I move on. Or, I can look at the 311 stitches of my Hawthorne shawl cast-on and decide that no, I did not choose the correct needle.
Sometimes the do-over is painful. It can be hard to admit that it’s just not right, and it never will be. Or that the little error way back there at the beginning can’t be written off as a “design element.” There’s almost always another chance to do it over and make it right, or make it better, at least in knitting. That’s one of the things I love about it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it needs to be right, and I get to do it over until I’m satisfied.
In life, the opportunity to do something over doesn’t present itself very often. After all, life is mostly a one-chance thing. We rarely get a do-over.
When I began the writing workshop a few weeks ago, I was wondering what I would have to say that I haven’t said already. I thought I’d sorted, chronicled, and satisfied my need to understand my cancer journey. I was open to the possibility that I might say it better, or that what I had to say could be meaningful to someone else, and I expected that their writing would be meaningful to me.
I didn’t know that, when asked the very same questions I’d asked myself before, I would get new answers. Our writing assignments seem simple on the surface – we explore diagnosis, treatment, and living with cancer. By retracing some of my steps on that path, I’ve discovered some things I missed, some quiet places to sit that I hadn’t noticed the first time. There are some of the same old potholes, to be sure, but this time I can avoid them a little more easily.
Doing it over – going down this particular road of memories and experiences again – is giving me the chance to do so many things: To love that Jane who had cancer. To see how strong I was and am. To really understand how painful that journey could be at times. To believe that I’d be strong enough to do it again if I had to. To know that I’m surrounded by people who care, and who take care. And most of all, to know that I made the best choices from among those given to me, and that I wouldn’t change any of it, for anything.
And what if I could take a do-over with cancer? Well it’s not like knitting, is it?