What happens when you don't know how much time you have left in your life, but you are still filled with as many desires as an energetic 320 year-old? To learn a new language, climb the steps of the Parthenon again, have a third baby (impossible now!), go to Divinity School, see New Zealand, and do more and be more than you could even imagine?

We all struggle with this as we age--the BE SERIOUS NOW time when you hunker down, lean in, and figure out, "What's next?"

But the stakes are higher when you've had cancer, and though things may look good, there are no guarantees for time left. My inner compass says, "74, baby," but what does IT know?

Recently, a dear friend whom we hoped had "beaten cancer" has found there is a small shadow on the CAT scan.  What to do? What treatments are left? Can we be hopeful but not optimistic?

God only knows.  Sometimes I think God is on crack--impulsive, hard to please, and able to confound us at every turn.  We get good results, go out to Alina's to celebrate, order a new dress from Amazon, and plan on renting a villa in the Tuscan hills (surprisingly cheap!). Then a bad scan comes in, our hearts plummet, and we start thinking about buying a cemetery plot and whether we prefer cremation or a good old-fashioned Catholic burial with Holy Water and ceremony. God's whiplash.

How to keep a sense of balance and yet be realistic?

I am not really sure. I have a butch-up faith, great attitude, lots of supportive friends, two (2!) faith communities, a beautiful house and view which sustain me, an adorable bouncy dog, and a husband to die for. (Sorry, couldn't resist that.) But how can I craft a life for myself when I simply don't know how much time I have left?  Here are some of my thoughts:

--Do not go back to college.
--Forget about being a ballet dancer.
--Put aside that old Latin book. It ain't gonna happen.
--Do not plan an Alpine climbing vacation; you don't have the spoons.

Yet it isn't all sadness and regret, at least I hope it isn't. Here are some things I am putting in place for myself:

--Get wiser.
--Read the Bible more thoroughly and compare translations. (This will make me look cool when I stand up in the UCC for Sermon Response.)
--Strengthen the relationships I have, deepening the love I have for people.
--Volunteer at the Soup Kitchen and continue bringing food to the Survival Center.
--Throw away useless junk, recycle, and re-gift. (I have way too much stuff in my boat of mortality)
--Practice humility.(This happens naturally when wearing a Johnny in the hospital and portions of your fundament are seen by strangers.) I will listen first, talk second; don't assume my opinion is always right; and think less of myself and more of others.
--Get more laugh lines around my eyes and mouth. (This isn't hard when being married to a stand-up comic.)
--Continue to "mother" my adult kids IF and WHEN they need me to do so. Maybe I'll just morph into a big, sympathetic ear.

Then it won't feel as if God is on crack, because our feet will be planted on solid ground, holy ground. Because God is there--in the whiplash, in the good results and the bad, in the horrible waiting. 

Let's have good desires rule our lives and the days left to us. Let's make good choices, help the unfortunate, and call our Congress people to stop The Donald from destroying our country. 

And love. Just love, holding to Julian of Norwich's words:  All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
Because--no matter how long we have left, if we love widely, expansively, and without thought to the cost, all will be well.


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