A couple of years ago I title my blog, The Sustained Chef, primarily out of the irony that chefs are engaged in. There is an inordinate amount of talk about sustainable food, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy and environmental practices, but when it comes to living sustainable lifestyle as a chef, we give it a blind eye and continue to brag about how many hours we put in last week. So I made a conscious commitment to try to change that in my own day to day habits and practices.
Since that choice, it seems like I’ve been challenged daily on whether or not I will stick to that commitment. And I’ve concluded that in this equation there is the same constant and the same variable; life will always be ready to hand me more than I think I can handle; this is a given. But it’s up to me to determine how I choose to respond to those demands.
I learned Monday of this week that my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma. This is all we knew at the beginning of the week. No type, no stage, no information other than it was indeed cancer and it was malignant. Here we go again.
Karen encouraged me to leave town and go be with her, since I had plenty of experience sitting through cancer consultations. My presence and counsel would be of comfort to mom, but what I did not expect was that it would have the same effect for me.
Walking through the Valley of the Shadow is just that; it is a walk and it leads through a dark place. There is no route to circumvent it, nor is there a bridge to cross over and avoid it. Grief must be met face to face. And so I did.
The result was a wonderful few days with my mom and sister. Who can determine when the last time just the three of us were together? I saw the old homestead with new eyes of appreciation. The springtime sights and sounds were accelerating and in so doing, its healing effects were being felt. I was being sustained by the beauty all around me.
The consultation with the doctor revealed a non-Hodgkins lymphoma, termed follicular lymphoma, which is quite common and in many cases requires no treatment. We breathed a sigh of relief in the midst of our anxiety, and whispered a prayer of thanks in response.
I guess the continued lesson for me is that no one escapes unscathed. Hardship eagerly awaits and I cannot devise a scheme to avoid it. But I still have choices at my discretion. Will I choose to keep walking down that road? Will I choose to be afraid and avoid, or will I actively keep looking for the redemption of the moment?