It’s strange to think that a year ago today, I was admitted to the hospital to figure out why I had full body pains for a month. I would then end up not leaving for almost another month. If you missed it, you can check out this post, then this one to catch up. I’ll be honest, I had every intention of just ignoring it, because, let’s face it, not much happened other than things left in the past. The only reason I’m writing this post today is because as I was celebrating and supporting a friend on an incredible achievement, the events of the last year deluged me and what I thought were sturdy emotional constructs.
I’ve always been one champion those like me that enjoy time alone and embracing introverted tendencies. There is a significant difference between being alone and loneliness. Being alone is something that humanity responds to on a broad spectrum: from the hermits to the Facebook friends collector, we all have a certain amount of time we can exist away from people. Loneliness, however, is an invisible erosion of the mind that you don’t always feel, like the wind whittling away a mountainside. Loneliness exists in an empty bedroom or in a pack stadium, among family and strangers and imaginary friends.
There was a lot of loneliness during the chemo treatments. Granted, I had my family always there to help. My nurses were some of the best I’ve ever had. And I had friends checking in and keeping things as normal as possible. But for fifteen weeks the chemo would wear down the tumors and loneliness wore down the mind. A time did come when I was so washed out and feeling little more than an “ugly bag of mostly water” that I didn’t have the mental or emotional strength to even perceive the effects and eventually the cancer was gone, chemo stopped pumping, and my body began to recover.
I took the time after the chemo as being a delayed start to my year. February through July never happened, much like a coma, and I was going to slowly attempt to complete the plans I had for the year. Reconstruct and reassemble the life lost in that time, repair the man I was. But that is the insidious nature of loneliness. Its corrosion is not visible. If you try to forge something new with corroded material, it’s doomed to collapse. It’s in our nature to prevent this at all costs because we learn as babies how terrible loneliness is. A part of us still hears our cries for Momma when we were helpless and knew nothing of this strange world. But sometimes we forget that creation comes from ruin. Loneliness, for all the pain it can cause, is like the wind: a force for change and something knew. Many believe that happiness is the cure for loneliness. And I think that is part of the right answer. It’s memories. I say that because we all do things that make us happy, but it is usually small, momentary bursts. They have no permanence. Memories create the strata to rebuild a mountainside and fill in the pits left by loneliness. Only by making new memories, finding new inspirations, can you begin to recover.
So this post is to thank everyone that has contributed to the new memories that are helping me rebuild. The old friends who, after decades apart, can pick up right where we left off. The new friends that inspire and humble me as I continue to discover more about them. The ones I call family, by blood or trust, that are always there if I need them and the strangers open to taking a chance.