I’m a lot happier these days and nothing has changed. I still live in the same small house, have the same job, get annoyed at the same things and have the same old irritating habits like my penchant for misplacing anything important: passports, taxes, work papers, keys and my glasses. I’m a lot happier because each day I wake up (I still groan as I pry myself from under the sheets) feels like a gift. It started when my friend died of cancer at 49 leaving her children and her life behind. I got to know her well only at the end having known her not so well for over ten years. When I helped clear out her condo, it felt, as another friend so aptly said, someone pressed the stop button on her life, while she was in mid-sentence. It wasn’t like clearing out an elderly person’s house. I felt her presence so acutely as if she was going to walk in and continue her life, as if she would just pick up where she left off. It felt unfinished: her work papers, newly bought groceries, freshly painted children’s room.
I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know someone who has died of cancer and unfortunately, the longer we live, the more likely we are to know more and more people who pass this way. I don’t know what my end will be and perhaps it’s morbid to think about, but thinking about it and realizing it could happen any day makes me really want to enjoy every day. It has made me hug a lot more, give more compliments and be grateful that I’ve woken up yet again, something I’ve always taken for granted. Better yet, it’s made me do some things that I’ve put off like writing a will, telling people how they’ve made a difference in my life, and working harder on my new book. Sure the other side may be way better, free of pain and sorrow and all the hard stuff that’s on this side. But I really like this side. It’s what I know and at times, it’s a lot of fun so I want to stay here for awhile, for as long as I can. That’s why tomorrow morning when I, night owl and sleep lover, get up far too early and start that tedious morning routine, I’m going to be very happy, because once again, I’ve woken up to a new day.