I’ve been swimming three times in the past week.
Big deal, you might be saying. It IS summer after all.
But it’s just Thursday, I’ve been working 10 hour days, and I don’t actually belong to a neighborhood pool. And did I mention that I sunburn easily?
For me to go swimming three times in an entire summer is the norm. But not this year.
If anyone invites me to go swimming, I’ve got my suit on and am lathered up with sunscreen before they can blow up their arm floaties.
This summer, I’m swimming.
I think it all started when I bought Tilly her swimming pool. She has had so much fun in that thing, and in fact, practically begs me to go swimming far more often than I let her. We have had a bit of a drought around here, and if the city is limiting lawn-watering, then surely they would frown on me filling a dog pool with fresh water every day.
But when I do fill it, Tilly is just like a kid. She splashes, she jumps in and out, she’s happiest when I am nearby and she can get me all wet.
The weekend before I learned of my cancer recurrence, I had decided to get a new swimming suit. For various reasons, the weekend ended, and I had no suit. The next couple of days were filled with tests and bad news. But when I realized a coupon I was planning to use was going to expire the next day, I decided that even though my world felt like it was crumbling, I was going shopping.
I came home that evening with a sporty new two-piece suit – more modest than my previous one-piece – and the next evening, when a friend asked if I wanted to join her and her family at their neighborhood pool, I said yes.
I don’t know what life will be like in a year. But given the choice between worrying what might happen down the road and going swimming right now, I’m going swimming. And chances are, next year this time, I’ll still be swimming. At least that’s the way it’s looking like right now.
This worrying what might happen — it’s the same kind of worrying Andrea Levendusky was trying to avoid, looking over a table full of cotton towels and wooden crates at a flea market with a friend. They were picking up old vases and looking through a box of crumbling photos, wondering about those people’s lives all those years ago. Those unnamed people in the photographs.
If we will be forgotten in 150 years,
I would rather just be in the here now.
I would rather hear your story amidst these old cheese graters and depression glass.
Life is the living, and not the planning. We are living our lives as we talk about what we wish we were. But in 150 years, when someone could pull a photo of us from the box,
they will see the life we lived,
not the one we wished we did.
And that’s the life I want, too. A life lived, not wished for.
Two weeks from now, I will be waking up from surgery, another six-inch incision carefully stitched together on my abdomen. During the weeks after that, there will be no more swimming, as the skin heals and the wound turns to scar. No more swimming in the weeks after that, even, as radiation beams pass through that same scarred skin, burning it til it’s pink and shiny.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll put my new two-piece away for the season, or at least for a couple of months.
Until then, though, I’m gonna keep on swimming.
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Each Thursday, consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.