I’m sitting on a beach contemplating life. My life, as it is now, as it was then, and as it will be someday. Basically, 3 lives. Past, present and future.
You think a lot about life when it suddenly gets threatened, as mine did when I was handed a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis. It was like a sucker punch from behind. Totally unexpected. Now, my day is consumed by what I need to do minute by minute to eat right, take any meds or cannabis oils, get enough exercise, and keep myself positive so that my mind will help my body heal. Having cancer is like a new part-time job.
I’m also thinking a lot about the past. Where I’ve been, what I did, who I met along the way. I’ve found myself going back to the scenes of my childhood to spark memories of what happened. Our recent trip to Oahu included my search for the place we stayed on a base when I was nine and we were enroute from Guam to Illinois. The bungalows are gone but I wanted to know where they had stood, just so I could picture myself walking from there to the beach. I’ve been interviewing my 99 year-old mother trying to get clues about our family’s history and often she remembers stuff, but not everything.
I changed this site from a “Creative Hub” site to more of an archive, where I can store and present stories about my life. I was inspired by my friend, Dave Olsen, who calls this “personal archeology” and “whole life documentation.” At first, I found that idea self absorbed and narcisstic, but now I see the point. We all have a past full of stories and it’s important to document them in a way that someone can know us better after we’re gone.
My past gains more importance when I think about the future. Anyone who knows me is aware that, like the song, I can’t stop thinking about tomorrow. The day I was diagnosed, the second or third thing I thought was that we need to sell our house in Oliver, BC. We were planning to renovate and move into it to start a rural life in wine country, but with my cancer treatments and the chance I may not live long enough to enjoy it, I knew we should own something in Vancouver instead.
Now, when I think about my future, I cannot stop imaging how I will seem to my baby grandson. He was born a year before my diagnosis and lives on the other side of the continent so I have only seen him on four elongated occasions. I wonder how much time I will have to spend with him. Will I see him entering kindergarten? Graduating middle school? Going to a high school prom? I don’t know. And if I don’t last the decade, what kind of memory will he have of me?
I want little Ryan to know who his grandma was because knowing about me will also help him know his own mother better. From what I know about the boy is that he will be a close observer and an opinionated discerner. He will put thought into anything he sees.
I suppose an analog scrapbook would serve a similar purpose, but I’m a web designer, not a scrapbooker.