This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.
Dinner with Mac
Tuesday, April 4, 2000
We all hear how we are supposed to savor life and even each moment and the message is repeated so often by those with terminal diseases, such as cancer and AIDS.
Oddly, it often made me feel guilty. I would be watching TV or just doing nothing and think, shouldn't I be doing something meaningful? After all, I have cancer and been told it is terminal. Shouldn't I be doing something more important with the minutes and hours of my life?
Then the other day I was standing in the kitchen, at the very spot where I had collapsed two months ago to the day, watching Mac eat dinner. I was leaning against the sink watching him in front of me as he nuzzled at the bowl I had just filled for him. It was the usual: a couple of cups of the dry food and then a can of the wet mixing it up. Usually I put it down and give him a pat and leave him to eat alone but this time I stood and watched as I have many times but tonight was different.
I shoved my hands in my pockets and watched as he sniffed and nuzzled at the food, seeking out the chunks of meat to eat them first and as he did, I thought about the moment. What I was doing - enjoying watching my good friend eat dinner - was exactly what I wanted to do. There was nothing else more important than enjoying his movements as he would take a mouthful and then look up at me while he munched, some of it dropping onto the floor as he so often does. Then he would return to the bowl to look for another piece of meat that was buried in the kibble.
So I stood there and watched him eat and crunch happily at the dinner. It was as if he enjoyed my company as much as I was enjoying his.
And I realized that we don't have to be doing "important" things to savor moments. Perhaps the more ordinary and common to our live, the more important they are when we take the moment to enjoy them.
And I also realized that I don't have to feel guilty about it any more.