As I was kick sledding back after dropping the boys off this morning I was coming around a slight bend and heading up the little rise towards the park by our house when I was momentarily blinded by the low angle early morning northern sun. We have been extremely fortunate to have a really nice run of sunny days this week. The moment though reminded me so much of those days growing up as I came up Buckskin drive towards the Dudley blue house. So many times (and I am sure it still happens) I remember coming around the large sweeping right hand turn just by the Laleeve (sorry on the spelling) house and having that momentary blindness from the sun. The angle of the road and the curve puts one in a perfect spot to be looking right up into the setting sun as it dropped further down in the valley between Emerald mountain and in the distance Sleeping Giant. The temporary blinding light was quite frequent. Despite the fact that I don’t recall ever there being an accident because of this arrangement there was a healthy fear every time the sun punched your retina.
The feeling is not really fun but it is amazing in that the moment after you blink and adjust your vision again there is a sense of relief and a realization of the beauty and warmth the sun is providing maybe even a more close examination of your surroundings. A feeling which is tough to forget and I am sure so many people have experienced this. Although our northern sun is not as intense as in the high Rockies this flooding of the brain with sun does often happen. The angle of the sun here seems to find the eyes easier as it is right along the horizon for a good portion of the day. I have always sort of enjoyed the overwhelming flash of light as I make the adjustment back to normal vision. Maybe it is because of the memory of this feeling as I came towards home growing up, maybe it is because the sun triggers some primordial response of calm and relief in the body, or maybe it is because just for a split second I am forced to slow down and take a roll call of my surroundings and functions.
What ever the reason is the moment is one of those little times which I have often reveled in. I seem to have more moments of stalling to enjoy the light these days which is nice. As I have mentioned so many times that I can thank cancer for helping me keep a keener eye towards the world around me. That being said I still wish I could have learned to do that some other less dramatic way. I think one of the most striking realizations about this is how often I probably ran into some patient who could or even did tell me about these feelings. A patient who desperately wanted to communicate this epiphany with those around them. Alas, they couldn’t or more likely those around didn’t listen (including me). I also find it so wonderful that during this last year so many people have taken the time to read my posts, listen to my thoughts, and really take them seriously. To me this has provided me with so much strength. I really do miss my job of being able to help people understand their illnesses. I don’t know if I really help patients but there is occasionally a feeling that I do and that is wonderful. I think I would have gone stark crazy had people I know not been following me so closely and taking a look at their own world because of my thoughts.
In the moments of blinding light I have lately found myself again wondering how can I continue to help others who face these waves, rocky roads, or never ending climbs I have talked of. I wish everyone of them could read and take to heart that we live in a time where although we can’t beat cancer for sure we have a much better chance. That hope is important. Accepting that we will die is important but reveling in the fact we are still here is equally important. I think of all the struggles this past year and I am sure I will come up with some way to help but for now I am going to revert back to what I felt would be helpful when I was in Seattle. Brooke and I have been exploring possibilities and ways to start a non profit to raise money and purchase a small apartment complex in Seattle to help families from Alaska and maybe other locales to make the arrangements of housing while facing a stem cell transplant easier or a bit more predictable. We have batted around a bunch of ideas on how to make this work but I am no great community organizer or fundraiser. So I will ask my support group if they have people they believe I can or should talk to who would be of help. I have some ideas and I will admit I have been bit hesitant in getting going for no other reason than I am sure the idea will take far more effort than I can imagine. Yet, I have to start somewhere and sometime so why not now.
Although I may be blinded a bit now by the returning northern sun or just by feeling a bit better, I want to start moving forward with this. I am being a bit vague in what I have done so far as to see what thoughts smarter people than myself may have. I will try to keep everyone informed as I delve into the process. I am sure that I have many corners of blinding light before this idea comes to fruition but I hope to one day make this process easier for patients and families such as mine. The experience should be less like a brick wall and more like that little blast of sun which I was so fond of coming up Buckskin drive in the evening and which refocuses me now.
Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.