Judge less, love more . . . Less fear, more joy . . .
I’m wondering if it’s possible to bridge the gap between who we are and who we want to be. Completely bridge it.
When we were interviewed about your living wake, the reporter acknowledged your mantra, “Just judge less and love more.”
There are a million words and nothing that can be said about a stage four cancer diagnosis, just as you are starting a new phase of your life. A million words and nothing. So you try to make sense of it as best you can, right where you are. You wrap some things up and drop others. Avert your gaze from dissonance when it points at you. Lob the unacceptable at those you know are brave enough to be hit. Gently hand off the sacred bits to the ones you wish to carry them further.
“We start making judgments when we get out of bed in the morning,” I said to you, trying to come at the concept from another angle. “Is this day worthy of my rising or shall I just lay here?” But you were somewhere else with your context. Fair enough. Getting out of bed had taken on a whole new meaning for you; our king-sized was a haven. And an escape.
And so back to my wondering. Wandering. That gap between who we are and who we want to be. For me, judgement roots in something deeper. Fear. And there was no shortage of fear for you, in your dying. I watched you assign more than one judgement, and often pull the same back. And now I wonder . . . Were you asking more than praying? Chanting? Were you asking us to judge YOU less and love you more? Because as you said, you were just doing your best? Always had been? I put a question out to you today, and heard your words back. “Never stop fighting for yourself, Jana.”
As I hold this peace you hand me now – even in the moments where I feel it could be clouded by my own fear and judgement – I am struck by just how much I want to give. Yep, give. The gifts you gave me (in your dying) are innumerable. I have never worked so hard to hold – allow – space that was unoccupied . . . because you were doing your best. And so in the process, I could hear the both of us. I could let you lay on your side of the bed and not judge. Grieve, yes. But let everything you were not saying, speak.
And so now what’s curious is that I still have energy for others, as well as myself. Maybe that does not look like what others might want it to be; it didn’t always look as you desired. I might be judging and fearing but in still hearing the distinctions within, the love and the joy both make an appearance. I can feel afraid and not close doors. I might even send a care package or two.
Your family once asked me – early on in my caring for you – where my sacred space was. I told them it was sitting still, on the stairs. Because it was. It was not at a nail salon. Or a massage. Yoga class. As I learnt from the rants in the Young Adult Cancer Canada Supporters group, self care looks entirely different on the marathon of caring for someone with an unpredictable disease like cancer. Self care is entirely self defined, and becomes redefined.
But I did find my sacred space. I tripped into it in the open air yoga studio in Costa Rica. Likely you were meditating right beside me, in your samurai pants. I found myself laying on a blanket, in my nana’s backyard. I was looking around and feeling the way it felt to lay there as a kid, stage set by my loving nana, for maximum comfort. When I think of her now – and her yard . . . the quilts and tv trays and snacks and the sight of her in shorts and rubber boots – I wonder how my care for you – of you – measured up to those moments on the grass, with snapdragons and sweet williams nearby.
So perhaps as I find myself – somewhat miraculously – reaching toward a desire to give, to be open . . . I wonder if my mantra is more than – less fear, more joy. I was being a bit cheeky. Wanting to challenge you as to how judgement is human.
After eight months of watching you struggle from the depths of your being, I am not spent. I don’t look in the mirror and wonder as to what is left in me, as I can see the potential for self-replenishment. I can go to my nana’s yard. And dissonance is now ok. I can judge and let it float and speak to me, so that it can then go. I can fear I will be drowned by the judgement of others . . . and then I want to send those care packages.
I’ll still keep fighting for me. The fight may not look as you meant it when you gave me those words. But they linger around me. And I am doing my best. I have more to give, in new ways, even when I am sitting on the steps.
“Funny how the things I’ve hated toss around my mind, like they were something unkind. Why did I leave you behind?” (Avid Dancer)