When your physician informs you the results of a biopsy that indicates your clock may be nearing midnight, how do you handle that news?
Me? I grabbed Oly (my camera) and her bag of lenses and tripod, and trekked down to Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA.
A sea water soaked log, sized perfectly for an observation seat, welcomed me.
December’s Pacific Ocean along California’s central coast takes on near-neon shades of blue and teal. Incoming waves have shed summer’s passiveness. They roll in faster. They croon louder when they reach the rocky shoreline. They fill the air with salt that clings to your lips. They make me clean Oly’s lenses often.
California grey whales swim south on their annual trek to the warm waters of Mexico. Dolphins pirouette their sleek bodies as they grab a bit of air above the azure tide. Shore birds pick the sand for tiny crabs.
This scene from three years ago, sticks to my memory without an ounce of rolling fog. Each step I took was other-worldly. I was alien. I was lightheaded. Now what? Maybe I’ll plop my ass on this log and shed my shock and fear into the sea with my salty tears. Shit! I don’t know what to do.
But that’s why I brought my companion, Oly. I dismantled the 12 mm lens for my 150—always a safe bet when I was unsure what to photo. Sanderlings, plovers, gulls and sandpipers scooted and shuffled about—not at all concerned about me on a nearby log. I focused and snapped a few shots, but they left me uninspired. So I became the proverbial lump on a log that gazed across the wet sand toward the western horizon.
Not even the magical ions bursting forth from this vast blue sea could inspire me beyond my imminent death sentence as most every website with information about the rare and incurable, uterine carcinosarcoma (UCS) I explored, indicated.
I mean, a week ago life was normal. Lunch and wine with my buddies; buying fresh local produce at Farmer’s Market; waiting for that fresh chunk of halibut that Spouse grilled for dinner to land on my plate; Spouse and I laughing together and planning our next Eurovan adventure. But now, maybe I should be planning my funeral, get my business in order, and get ready to rejoin cancer world.
I’m not one to sulk and wallow in my own misery. So I switched to my 300 mm lens. Some interesting activity up the beach caught my eye. I zoomed in on the scene. Suddenly I forgot about my morning conversation with my physician. A pod of brown pelicans — maybe close to a hundred, the males in their colorful mating plumage, and the females seemingly enjoying the attention, beckoned Oly and I to get a little closer.
Camera gear held close, I did my best invisible walk up beach to see what I could capture. Slowly, I planted the tripod in the sand, about 20 feet away from the pelicans. Snap. Snap. Half an hour later, I moved it in 10 feet. The pelicans could’ve cared less. Then I made the move within 5 feet. Soon, I was one of the pod. Exhilaration overcame me like the waves on the sand.
Life comes and it goes. It’s how we roll. Play. Dance. Make love when you can. Feast. Laugh. Take wing. We’re all in this together. We share stardust. We share the sea. We share the air. Take comfort in this joyful moment. Let it be your guide.
SNAP. SNAP. SNAP.
Today I’m a thousand miles from the sea. Today I dwell at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Today I’m a year past my predicted end date. And today I feel good.
Three years ago, the targeted treatment that I’m receiving now was still in its testing stage. Last fall the FDA approved the treatment for UCS within certain perimeters. My perimeters are a perfect match. Perhaps it will rewind my clock away from midnight. I mean, through the blessing of skilled medical care and the message I follow from a pod of pelicans three years ago, the clock already has slowed. And with it my vision and senses are more alive than ever before. Frankly, it’s almost spooky. That’s not a complaint. I’ve taken wing.