Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Carpe Diem

“Live life to the fullest.”
“Celebrate life.”
“Carpe diem.”
I’ve heard them all. But as another angioma patient wrote on Facebook, “not all near-death experiences cause you to jump up and live everyday to its fullest.” Summer’s angioma is located in the brain stem and is inoperable. She is scared of the very real possibilities of her heart stopping from beating, or of suddenly losing the ability to breathe. She spoke of her fears paralyzing her, preventing her from taking life by the horns.
Summer has lived with her fears for a year. I have lived with mine for more than seven years now. My fears rear their ugly heads when something new happens, a new symptom, a new bleed, new angiomas. I become anxious every time I recall that I am at high risk for early onset dementia or that angiomas can grow back, and I’m fearful that my epilepsy isn’t fully under control.
But these days, most of the time, my fears hide far beneath the surface, and when they do resurface, they rarely paralyze me.
I should be able to seize the day.
Sometimes I wonder whether I do live my life to the fullest, whether I celebrate life like my friends and breast cancer survivors do. Sheryl, at the age of seventy, learnt to fly-fish, and took up dragon boating. She paddles competitively and has participated in national and international dragon boat races. Darlene didn’t even jog before her diagnosis—now she runs marathons. She rarely traveled out of town—now she travels across the country without blinking an eye and she recently came back from a trip to Europe. She’s tried sky-diving, attends glitzy shows, and throws pool parties.
Like them, I live more passionately than in the past. Though also more quietly. I take leisurely walks, stopping to absorb my surroundings. I’ve taken up yoga and writing.
I have absolutely no interest in sky-diving or skiing. Fishing and glitzy shows have never been my thing. And I gave up on dragon boating after injuring both shoulders.
Is it a matter of personality? Perhaps if I was more gregarious like my friends. I would live more like them. I’d travel to developing countries and instead of focusing on yoga, I’d go back on the water to scull.
Perhaps it a merely a matter of energy. Too much of the time, I struggle through debilitating fatigue—I have nothing left to seize anything. And the all too frequent headaches prevent me from even remembering that diems are here to be carped.
Could my way also count as a celebration of life?

While living up on the hill with my now ex-husband, I dreamed of living within walking distance of the shops, the cinema, restaurants, work. I now live at the foot of that hill. Though I still need to drive to work, I can now walk to the shops, and along the river.
It is a lovely day outside, and I do need to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I am well rested after a decent night’s sleep.
This diem is definitely calling out to be carped, my way.

I believe I will take a leisurely walk over to the grocery store.