Bits of life

I’ve been reading the wonderful columns by Dana Jennings, who writes about his experience with prostate cancer for the New York Times. His words often — almost always, in fact — move me. Many times I’ve cried because in writing about himself, he’s written my own truth, and some of my own experience. His past couple of columns have been about returning to lifeand recovering.

Recuperation from cancer is mostly physical. I recuperated from surgery and radiation, and I’m still recuperating from chemotherapy. Cells divide, hair grows, strength returns. It’s a process, predictable and expected; not without its ups and downs, but nearly inevitable.

But recovering, that’s a different matter. It’s not simple, not predictable. Every single person who has had cancer has a different recovery experience. And it will go on for a long, long time — you don’t just wake up one day and say, “Well, that’s over and done with; all better now!” You climb, crawl, walk, stumble, until eventually you’re upright, and the road is smoother than it was before.

I’m not on the way to becoming my old self, either. I’m creating a new self from the one who traveled that hard road full of unexpected twists, turns and roadblocks. I’m adding bits of my old life back, little by little. I choose familiar things as I encounter them — a favorite shirt, a visit to the water, a comfortable position in which to fall asleep — and add them to Jane, where they become part of me again. I decide to leave other things by the side of the road — stuff that doesn’t matter, shoes that don’t fit, arguments that can’t be won.

A couple of weeks ago I added a visit with my family. There were hugs and kisses for my little mother, who I hadn’t seen for a long, long time. There were laughter and tears with my sisters, my brother, and their families. My heart filled, and I felt something fall into place. Another bit, reclaimed, making Jane.

My first knitting project of the new year was this Pretty Thing cowl in Bijou Spun Lace Weight Yak. I added one repeat to the pattern and used US 3 needles. It’s more than just a pretty thing — it’s divine. I have Kris to thank for the yarn as well as the exquisite Herend experience (see the photo at the top of the post).