Lesson 41: Forgive yourself

12 years ago

Northern Yarns HEAD

From the moment I was told that I had rectal cancer, I have been consumed with guilt. I have asked myself a million times why? Why did I fail to have a colonoscopy at the age of 50? Why did I convince myself that cancer would never invade my life? Each time I would feel nauseous or fatigued or find myself pulling handfuls of long, red hair from my comb, I would tell myself I was getting exactly what I deserved for playing deadly games with my health.

I managed to stop hating myself but I could not forgive myself. I was thankful for this second chance. I wanted more than anything to start making my dreams come true but life was a serious matter and I could never let my guard down again. My main focus was survival.

For the first time in a long time, I traveled alone to Augusta to attend a meeting with my coworkers. For me, it was an odyssey of sorts. Armed with a fine array of CDs to listen to (Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Joni Mitchell) and satellite radio to keep me on the edge of my seat (Suspense Theatre), I found the drive from Connor to Augusta therapeutic and invigorating. While in Augusta, I even managed to get turned around a few times, which only enhanced my adventure.

I was thankful to be with my coworkers once again. The meeting room was filled with hugs, best wishes, and hand squeezes. As I sat in their midst, I realized that everyone and everything was unchanged. I was back in the game. This was no place for regret and self-reprimand. This was my life. I would make other mistakes. I would stumble. I would even fall from time to time but the world would continue to twirl on its axis.

Before I departed for home, I decided to revisit a place I had discovered quite by mistake the evening before. Surprisingly, I found it once again; that in itself quite miraculous. Sitting a considerable distance from the road was a small, medium brown house. The front lawn was adorned with healthy white birches, waiting patiently for the lush green leaves that would arrive with the warm days of spring. Scattered among these trees were plastic blow-up Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. When dusk arrived, these bunnies and eggs would glow and the stark white birches would dance with the reflection of traditional Easter colors such as lilac, green, yellow, pink and blue. It was genius choreography.

I sat there in my car, smiling at the lawn display. I have always been drawn to the sparkly, shiny things we decorate our lives with. It had been a long, long time since I had allowed myself such a peaceful, effortless moment.

I made one more stop on my way home: Target in Bangor. How I love this store, with its bright overhead lights, aisles of neatly arranged merchandise, and grand array of books. I purchased a bag of Peanut M&Ms, a bottle of Diet Pepsi, and a pair of pink and yellow flowered sneakers; perfect to wear on the road to self-forgiveness.

Editor’s Note: Belinda Wilcox Ouellette has lived in the Caribou area for all of her 56 years. She presently lives in Connor TWP. with her husband Dale and their Goldendoodle Barney. They are currently working on building a home in Caribou. You may contact Belinda online at: dbwouellette@maine.rr.com.