It wasn’t until my body was curled into itself and heaved erratically from the grief that I heard the bugle call me out of the valley. It wasn’t until I was standing at the top of a mountain in a celebration that I decided to make an effort to stay out.
For the last few months, I felt like instead of pulling myself out of a valley of emotions, which I slipped into after realizing we couldn’t adopt for years, that I’ve lain in the dark grass at the base of the slope, languidly ripping the heads off of dandelions in sadness.
Recently, a precious friend passed away from a recurrence of breast cancer – a woman whom I admired and suffered alongside – and I continued to sit in a valley of sadness avoiding people – ripping up weeds that looked like flowers to make myself feel better.
It usually begins the same way. The weight of being a survivor sits like a yoke around my neck as I drag my feet back to bed to sleep off the emotions. I lose interest in everything and sleep off days, weeks, and sometimes months – and am a passive spectator in my own life. Damaged cells aren’t the only things chemo leaves behind.
But this weekend while celebrating my sister-in-law’s wedding in Wintergreen, Virginia, I stood on top of the mountain. Though the air was hot and sticky and didn’t have the crisp bite of Colorado air, there’s something about standing from a higher altitude that puts everything in perspective.
I’m still here.
The lush green trees carpeted each hill which the sunlight illuminates in different shades. Some valleys are darker, deeper while next to it a mound curling up is moss green. That’s what I saw from there – higher up, on the other side of sadness or difficulties, is a place where you can see it’s not all valleys and the beauty of it all rises above the downward slopes.
I’m still here.