A few weeks ago my love and I went walking, with cameras. It was a glorious spring day. The sun shone through petals of newly formed flowers. I longed to take their portraits. I did take their portraits.
To gather the intimate face of a young blossom, I often find it best to get down on the ground, on my knees or belly, and shoot up through the petals. This day I scrambled about on the rough asphalt road before a stand of small, yellow, German irises blooming in my neighbor's parking strip. When I got up, a clump of crabgrass -- roots, dirt and all -- was stuck in the mechanism of my knee, and the hard, shiny, black plastic patella was suddenly all scuffed and scratched, never to reflect cleanly again. Later, when I took my leg off and turned it upside down to change my shoe, dirt poured out of my shin. I was elated for days afterward.
Such joy -- yet few people seem to understand. When I told the folks at work about this, their first impulse was to pity me having to deal with the way I change my shoes or dirt collecting in my fake leg. I had to explain to them what all this meant, how this collection of weeds and dirt delighted me, affirming my life and rewarding me for my choices.
I went to so much trouble to be able to do this for a few more years, to be in the world with love and my sweetheart, to garden, to photograph and draw, to get close up with every tiny bit of my portion of the living planet, crawling around on the ground and getting all battered and grungy in the process. Opting to keep my life even with the kinds of complications brought on by amputation was a big commitment for me, a deeply considered choice but also a huge gamble. There was no guarantee that any part of this would go at all well, that there would be no further complications or that my cancer would not immediately metastasize further and kill me within weeks or months -- which, purely statistically speaking, it's still likely to do at any time.
I have been incredibly lucky. My gamble paid off. It's been a giant pain in the butt on one level, of course, but I've already won almost two years of beautiful days and the fulfillment of my every passion. I should have written about it, about how I got both my knees all scuffed up and dirty just like a little girl making mud pies, right when it happened, when I was still in love with that day that I had just lived and the fact that I could have it at all, but the thing is, I feel like that a lot of days. And I've simply been too busy having these days -- as well as other days which aren't so wonderful, 'cause this is real life after all -- to jot them all down as they come.
Shoot, I haven't even had time to finish out that roll of film yet, the one with the irises.* I'm waiting for another lazy morning with perfect sun. When it comes, I expect I'll be in it, really in it. I have big plans.
*Obviously I did eventually get that film developed, hence the photo I ultimately managed to include for your viewing pleasure.