I lay in the makeshift recovery room, watching the dust motes dancing in the afternoon sun as the light came slanting in sideways through the blinds. The one window faced west, so the mornings were bright and soft, but the evenings were golden and spectacular. If I adjusted the hospital bed just right, I might catch a glimpse of pink-purple clouds.
The room was where my mother lived in when she stayed with us. She’d returned to Hawaii when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so that my sister could care for here there. This way my husband could focus on balancing a full-time job with parenting and serving as my in-home nurse. We hadn’t changed out the hospital bed she used. It turned out that our procrastination was fortuitous. This was where I would spend the summer healing from surgery. I would become proficient at using the remote control to raise myself to a sitting position or to elevate my legs so I wouldn’t slide down in the bed. The surgical drains, which protruded from both sides of my body and had to be emptied every few hours, meant that side-sleeping was not an option. I’d never thought of turning onto my side in the night as a particularly luxurious act, but you try lying on your back for weeks and see if you don’t start fantasizing about curling up like a cat.
I don’t have many clear memories about those first few days after I came home from the hospital. I faded in and out of consciousness, rousing only to swallow medicine or eat a few spoonfuls of food. A trip to the bathroom was a major undertaking that required strategic planning and mentally rehearsing every movement. My newly-flat chest throbbed with pain, so the darkness was a welcome respite from the glare of wakefulness. I felt as though I’d been razed, like a field now bare of crops. What I know now is that I was lying fallow.
In the blessedly oblivious blackness that came after I gulped down the meds, muscles and tissue were healing. Sometimes, I heard visitors in the house, or I could overhear phone conversations, and I’d close my eyes to shut out reality.
But what I do remember about that time is the light, and the way it filled that tiny room. The way it fell on the covers, the desktop, the piles of books. I turned toward it the way a potted plant will grow toward the nearest source of sunlight. And every time I opened my eyes, I took in more of this new reality, with its strange outlines and unfamiliar contours.
There was loss, yes, but also, new growth after the destruction. What grew in the light was determination, acceptance, focus, and clarity. I had carried the seeds all along, but now they were coming to life. It didn’t matter that this wasn’t what I’d planned or wanted. This is what I’d grown.
Here are some questions to consider:
- What has been planted in your life that needs light?
- What do you notice growing inside you?
- How are you tending this new growth?