The past few days have been very reflective. I’m so grateful to be cancer-free right now, (even if I’m not pain-free yet! Argh.) On December 6th, just two days after signing on with Canada House Gallery, I had a second mastectomy and all pathology reports came back clear.
Compared to this time last year, I feel much less panic and despair. It’s kind of sad to look back at what we all went through and yet there is a certain sense of triumph in this reflection today. I have met new friends, seen old ones fall by the wayside, created new works, cried, laughed, thrown away lots of uglies, found beautiful new things in life, learned how to throw on a wheel, and I’ve learned how to receive and trust, to wait and to balance. All of those are in many ways, just a string of decisions.
While I know it’s a stretch to talk about illness as a gift when it exists also as a trauma to family and self, looking at the good things in our lives is what has brought us through.
I’m so grateful to my adopted Blackfoot family and community, the Elders, the traditional medicines, prayers are paramount in my wellness. The Big Smoke at The Banff Centre was beyond words for all of our family. I feel more a part of this community, learning new things every day, than I ever have before and I cannot ever thank you all enough for your ongoing welcoming of our family. Grandpa Tom has been with us from the first day of diagnosis, and Auntie Charlene CraneBear and Leah Bear Chief’s inspirational, positive postings each and every day on Facebook were things that lifted me when I was alone and quiet.
I’m thankful for the beautiful family I have – my brothers and sisters-in-law, Kim, Ulla, David and Douglas. I’m so proud of the work they do in this world and that every week, I get a call from Doug, no matter where he is in the world and what he’s doing to help others on this planet. Without my brother David’s help in the last residency at The Banff Centre, I wouldn’t have been able to express myself in paint in such magnitude…and that kept my spirits lifted in a year without painting.
My mom and dad just happened to fly into town on the day that I had the mammogram that diagnosed the disaster for our year ahead. It was a sorrowful, difficult Christmas last year, but they have been there to support us from day one, even when my Dad had a heart attack in the spring. We simply could not make it without you.
I’m proud of my children and my husband who have nursed me through everything. It’s not been an easy year, and they have seen the ugliest side of it all, without complaining – they just kept helping and assuring me that I would get well, even when I didn’t believe it. Thank you Benjamin, Kevin, Jacob and Grace.
Kevin especially – you’ve held us all together like a rock this past year. You’re exhausted, I know it… I hope this year if full of rest, rejuvenation and sleep after this wicked marathon.
2014, I hope will be my “Year of Gentle Making”. I have a few things planned, but not set in stone to reflect artfully upon my experience. With a few more prayers, rest and recovery I hope soon to be back in the studio in a meaningful way. My wish is for everyone to take some time for themselves, to be in good health, keeping your mind and heart open and to have as much time with your family and friends as you possibly can. Everything else can wait.