Saturday, 12 September 2015

Enlightenment - To be or not to be? That is the question -

I have long forgotten asking the Universe why things happen the way they do. I never project too far into the future because I am never sure what is around the corner for me, so I live my days as much in the moment as I can and surround myself with those that I love. 

What I do know is life is so fragile and can change at any moment.  We all have to ride the waves and our attitudes define who we become on the other side of our experiences.  Then you have those defining moments in which your life will never be the same again.   Through my own experience, I have learned than sometimes when we take too long to make decisions the Universe makes them for us.  It can shake us down to our very core and be excruciatingly painful both physically and mentally.  It makes us reevaluate who we are, why we are here, what we want and what we are supposed to be doing on this crazy planet.   

Pain makes the world stop. You look around a world which was normal the day before and yet it now seems so far from the truth we wonder how people can carry on without noticing.  Its like all of a sudden we wake up and everyone else seems to be sleepwalking. The shift in us can be so great that it can change the course of who we are and where we thought we were going. 

Just as our bodies become sensitive and cannot longer tolerate certain foods over time, it becomes the same with people and situations.  For a time we still eat things knowing that we are going to pay for them later.  Over time our tolerance levels get lower and lower until our bodies immediately reject or react to something that it doesn’t like.  As we become more and more aware of ourselves the same things happen in our relationships.  That old friendship circle maybe tolerable for a while, but then you will find you become less and less like the people you once called friends.  Socializing with them will become so unappealing that the only logical thing to do is to move away from it.  Friends will change, relationships will change, jobs will change as each one no longer is a reflection of you. This then has to be replaced with something new, which is another entirely different blog for another day. 

During my recovery a few things stood out that were glaringly obvious. I discovered the people that really cared, and the ones that just said they did.  I noticed the people that I could have genuine meaningful conversations with and those that were transparent and shallow.    The kindness of strangers restored my faith in humanity and those I thought would support me during my illness are the ones that disappointed me the most.  I learned never to underestimate the power of kindness and who I should spend my most precious gift of time on. 

All I know is I am wide ‘AWAKE’ and working my way towards becoming an ‘ENLIGHTENED’ being. After all,  we are all headed in the same direction, I just prefer to do it with humor and a light heart. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Through My Fathers Eyes

I remember getting alot of adult attention after my father’s death.  A steady stream of people flowed through our family home baring food and gifts to cheer us up. I guess it worked because I cannot remember being a grief stricken child. At school my art design was chosen for the Christmas card competition (and it wasn't very good!). I was given leading roles at my ballet school and my teachers were nice, caring and generally overcompensating especially around the father’s day celebrations. I was never given a real opportunity to grieve the loss because everyone around me always wanted to make me happy.

The earliest recollection of my father being sick was visiting him in hospital.  I remember that visit because I buried my head in his overnight bag so I didn’t have to watch the nurse change his drip.  He thought it was extremely funny, although my fear of needles lasted for the next 27 years!   One day I sat on his knee and looked him right in the eyes.  ‘Dad’ I asked, “Are you going to die?’  My father had been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.   How do you tell a 6 year old the truth without breaking her little heart, so of course my Dad lied ‘No Princess, I’m not going to die’.  When he passed in 1978 at the age of 36, I was 6 years old and my little baby brother was 4. 

The magic in life just seemed to slowly disappear.  Quite suddenly as everyone got back to their own lives things got hard.  I not only lost my Dad that day, I lost a part of my mum as well. As I grew older I became angry and resentful that my father had not only died but lied. I was never able to let go of the hurt although my adult logic knew why he done what he had done. I guess you can never really appreciate what someone is experiencing until you experience it yourself. 

When I was 39 years old with young children of my own  I was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer.  The frightened little girl, who stuck her head in the overnight bag resurfaced.  I was given an opportunity to see my father’s diagnosis through my own eyes and I was finally able to grieve the loss of my father.  I would look into my babies eyes at night and feel the overwhelming sadness and heartache my father must have felt knowing he was not going to see us grow up.  I cherished every moment with my family, not knowing if I was heading into the same terminal diagnosis.  The time I was able to sit on the floor and play with my boys became ever so precious.  My husband became my career, my strength and support. He took over the running of the house to the organizing of everyone’s life.  I only had one job, to get myself well so I could give my boys the opportunity to have what I never had growing up, two parents.  My surgery was successful and after months of chemo, radiation and healing I was given a second chance at life. 

Four years after my surgery and 37 years of my father resting up at the crematorium my mother decided it was time to scatter his ashes.   I think we all would love one more day with a loved one that has passed and I feel so blessed at having had the opportunity. Even though I always know he is with me in spirit, I had a physical connection and something to hold onto for one more day.  His urn lay next to me while I watched TV, I held him in my bed and cried.  I told him how much I love and missed him, and he spent his last physical night watching over me from my bedside table.  I got to hold him in my hands again as my mum and I scattered his ashes in the sea and I now keep his plaque in my garden.  I felt life come full circle and I was finally able to put some closure on the funeral I did not attend as a child. 

My experience with cancer allowed me to open up and release the part of me that needed to let go.  I still feel sadness even while I re-read this blog. I don't think that will ever go away but the anger and the sense of being robbed of my childhood no longer has a place in my heart. 

Michelle Lykokapis
Stomach Cancer Survivor