I've been having my own private Lent since the end of October when I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, through two back-to-back cancer surgeries and the ensuing recovery, then learning there was a third cancer--ovarian--which took me to the festive journey of 18 weeks of chemo.
This is not a complaint nor a litany of suffering. I KNOW other people have it far worse than I, and I know my prognosis is good while so many do not have that. I am deeply grateful for the skilled care I've received and look towards a hopeful conclusion
Nonetheless--cancer means you are stripped down. Utterly. You are brought right to the core of your being, your faith, your marriage, your family, your body, and whatever fantasies you had about health and a long life. It isn't necessarily a bad thing to do this; there is no question that suffering and giving up big sections of your life (and hair) leads to a softer heart, a quicker sympathy for others in difficulties, and a sense of overflowing gratitude just for being upright, dressed, fed, and living with someone you love beyond life itself.
So, I am not giving up anything for Lent this year. No fasting either. Gotta keep my weight up. But I am going to get my ashes with a friend soon, and that will remind me--not that I need reminding--that I am dust and ashes, and some time (praise God let it be later rather than sooner) I will join the earth and my God for the next stage of my life where I will be something other than dust.