I came across this short story that I wrote many years ago for a Creative Writing class. It starts with a young woman who has just been told that she has an inoperable tumor in her brain. She is informed that she will lose her vision, her speech, her mobility, and finally her life.
Here is her internal dialog as she leaves the doctor’s office after receiving this death sentence.
Destiny leaves the dispassionate austerity of the Medical Center. She tries to wrap her head around the details just disclosed to her by a virtual stranger. A stranger who dispassionately revealed her termination to occur within the next six months. She walks without awareness of her movement. Her movement is without the typical purpose of destination. Her limbs are no longer engaged in the process. They are moved by the brain’s desire to save its vessel from unthinkable danger.
Suddenly, Destiny is compelled to stop this mind-numbing process. She spots a circle of emerald-green grass that is perfectly outlined by a chalk-white walking trail. In the center of the circle stands a simulated geyser in the form of a mythical dragon. The dragon purges fiery red water out of its mouth in sympathy for Destiny and in disgust over its role as sentinel to this discordant scene. The area is perched on the top of a hill giving a magnificence view of this monument to health. It is a physical manifestation of opulence and pride.
Destiny sits on the emerald-green earth. She feels the earth’s coolness rise up into her now racing heart. She feels its coolness at her feet like a foggy mist threatening to envelop her. She begins to panic, feeling the grip of death so physical upon her. But, feeling cold in life does not mean that a person is experiencing death. She still has that to look forward to. She realizes that she is simply experiencing life. So, she eases herself into the cold ground beneath her as if burying herself alive. The ground comforts her and provides her with a sense of belonging. She doesn’t question this feeling.
Destiny sits for hours. Her thoughts drift to how she will live with the knowledge of her imminent death. Then she realizes that the real question is how will she live the rest of her life. She had never lived for NOW. She has lived task-by-task in delayed gratification. She has sought the social ladder’s promise of happiness following success. She was always becoming, moving so fast that she left herself behind. Now, with little time left to become, maybe she could just BE.
Suddenly, the active process of ‘becoming’ takes a second place to the more passive process of ‘being’. And, ironically, she is certain that the more passive process of being will inspire the process of becoming herself.
In a flash, the very things that she would eventually lose take revenge on their upcoming loss. The simple gifts of everyday became more acute and alive. The air smells of sweet honeysuckle. Yet, Destiny cannot remember smelling honeysuckle – ever. The sky becomes a myriad of quick-change disguises. A stage where, as a little girl, her mother would take her to see “The Best Show on Earth”. As a child, she would watch Old Man Time, with his hollow, round mouth skip across the sky chasing unicorns and buffalo. One scene after another transported by a soft, gentle breeze. Destiny feels a gentle breeze caress her. She marvels at its intimacy. It brings her back to the caress of her mother. This memory opens up the flood gates of unconditional acceptance. This is Destiny’s moment of Being. It transcends all of her moments of becoming.
Destiny inhales as if it were her very first breath. Her exhale appears to release all notions of self. This release clears a path to self-discovery. The oxygen expands her nostrils, her lungs, her chest. It tickles like a feather going down. This was not a process to be taken for granted.
Destiny lifts herself up and heads for home. She does not know for certain what challenges and wonders await her. But, she knows that she will live more robustly. She will pause in all the right places. And, in the end, she will make the music she was meant to make. She also knows that living robustly does not mean living without challenges, regrets, pain, disappointments. But, somehow, she feels that the omnipresent breeze will be her support. And, she knows that her mother is in that gentle breeze, loving her from her own emerald-green place in heaven.