Letting the light in.

 My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.

- Martin Luther -

            Celebrating my daughters Race for Life-a jewel to treasure this week! 

I read this quote this week and it made me pause. There is no doubt that music has been an important part of my life. I’m a singer songwriter fan and also very much enjoy those whose voices are the instrument too, not necessarily together as that can be a hard ask! I notice, however, when I’m most stressed and anxious because of life and it’s travails I can’t listen in the same way. Somehow I takes up too much room in my head. Perhaps my brain is too overwhelmed by making sense of things or just getting through each day. 

At other times it’s been reading, my usual solace, that has left me. I have found I can’t concentrate or as soon as I dip my eyes I’m asleep but not now thankfully. I’m enjoying every form of reading but I need to be selective. I don’t do sad just now, nor dark, just escapism or thoughtful well written books are as much as I seek. And I do love an audible book, a story in my head to take me away to someone else’s life and place is a gift, especially on the harder days of chemotherapy. 

Mostly when I’m on the ward, I have the AirPods ( I treated myself to them at the start of treatment- wise decision) in place, some banal novel in my ear and my eyes closed. Otherwise I’m too open to others pain and it’s hard to witness. It’s the emotional pain really and that maybe my projection but mostly I sense that I feel it in them too. And it’s hard not to hear the stories. See the veins give in and fight back against the cannulation. The defeat as their story doesn’t unfold as planned, a scan showing treatment not working, a blood test requiring attention. A slow giving in to the cancer ruling your life and the gradual acceptance of it. Your own life reflected back in theirs, maybe differently but at its core we share that connection and it feels visceral. 

I wonder for the nurses who do this work day in, day out. Their kindness soothes us, their smiles and quiet competence a support to a world that feels unsafe in so many other ways. They are getting used to me now, pitching up in the wheelchair. We know where the real accessible toilet is after a bad start and I know the rhythm of the day and what to expect. The summer is moving past slowly and I’ve had to give it to just making it about getting though the treatment. Tentative plans for trips are now cancelled until later. Not only am I tired and vulnerable but covid again is everywhere. 

For many people I know they are infected with it for the first time and really don’t feel great. Thankfully they also so far have recovered over time. Honestly it feels surreal, we talk of life being back to normal but almost everyone I know locally has covid. It hasn’t gone away but masks are rare and any sense of shared protection has gone. It feels a lonely place to be. I do understand wanting life to go back to normal but it’s like a mass denial, supported by governments who have given up trying to have any semblance of control. Thankfully vaccines have helped and we aren’t back in those early days but for some of us the fear remains raw. And omnipresent. 

So I have listened to some music recently but it’s been Leonard Cohen! Does that reflect my state of mind? I some ways it does but that means a reflective place and there is no one like him for getting to the heart of matters. The Anthem is one I’ve often quoted and not only the words but the anthemic nature of the song brings a special  comfort in these difficult times in my world and the wider world too. ‘There is a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in’. So here I am getting through, trying to let the light in and enjoying the things to celebrate, however small they are. 


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