Sometime in September 2012 I received a call from my OBGYN that has forever changed my life.
“Victoria, listen, the genetic tests we ran last month came back and I wanted to call you to let you know what they were. The results are positive, you have inherited the breast cancer gene”.
Ok, I don’t have breast cancer, but learning that I am twice as prone as the general population to developing cancer is quite unsettling. I remember feeling claustrophobic in my cubicle and bursting into tears in my director’s office. To this day, I haven’t quite put my finger on why I cry or get a knot inside my chest every time the subject comes up. Am I grieving the loss of innocence? Have I been initiated into a life in which I must honor the inevitability of death?
I used to write short stories about a girl named Vera who dared Death, or the grim reaper, to come to her at night just so she could feel something. Little did I know Death was waiting for the right moment to show herself to this so called Vera. The truth is, I am fascinated by the archetype of Death and all that it represents.
A couple of weeks after getting the verdict from my OBGYN, I remember telling the oncologist I was referred to, that I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that my genetic make-up and breasts were a ticking time-bomb.
“No, it is a life-sentence,” she said candidly.
This made me realize that death is an intrinsic aspect of our human experience. Yet despite the inevitability of death, we engage in behaviors that deny its wisdom. We buy and surround ourselves with material things to reinforce our identity and its self-perceived omnipotence and immortality. That is until life comes knocking at our doors to remind us that we are not living life, but rather sleeping through it. It is here that the gold lies, for the awareness of death can be a much needed springboard to living life to its fullest and seizing the day. After all, death does not have to be this morbid “event” we are led to believe.
However, we do not need to receive news about death in order to come back to life. A moment of getting in touch with your beingness is all it takes! So take a deep breath, stop focusing on doing-doing-doing, and focus on just being for a minute. Feel the air touching your skin, listen to the sounds around you, see the colors, the textures. Make room and listen to what the voice of wisdom within has to say about how to truly come alive.
What are your thoughts on death? Have you had an experience you’d like to share in which you have felt truly alive or come face to face with “death”? If so, please leave a comment because I’d love to read about your experience.
Thank you for reading, and see you next week!