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Have you ever been to the ocean the day after a storm? The waves remain slightly agitated and debris from far-away mysteries drifts in slowly all along the shore. The water is often murky, leaving you to question what rests within it. These are the days the driftwood arrives, a smooth piece of wood, sanded down by the friction of its environment and brought to the beach at nature’s behest. The tide pushes and pulls the wood, and the wood obeys, powerless to stop its undeniable strength. At first it moves gently, calmly, but as it nears the shore, and as the waves begin to tumble one over the other, so too does the wood. It flips top over bottom. Its jagged ends, which aren’t so jagged anymore, dip and press into the sand but nothing can stop the momentum of those rippling, bubbling, and incessant waves. It tumbles and progresses and regresses and rolls, and then eventually, with one soft, gentle nudge, it comes to rest on the wet sand.

Up until this morning all I could do was sit around and wait. I knew I had cancer but no one could tell me what we were going to do about it. I have been drifting along, the turmoil of the storm having already left its abrasions, and I have had no choice but to ebb and flow with the news.

Today was different. Today I met with the surgeon who told me she believed she could operate and within hours I had a CT scan, pre-op bloodwork, and an out-patient procedure all scheduled for tomorrow. The surgeon is direct and confident, kind and competent, and I can feel slow, steady breathing coming back to me, while the power of everyone around me lifts me up and pushes me forward.

I am no longer an aimless drifter. Tomorrow I will be poked and scanned and scoped. I am confident that over the next several days I will feel flipped and pushed and pulled from the momentum that I know I am powerless to stop. We are moving forward at a pace that neither my husband nor I can comprehend. And we go willingly and eagerly. Barring unexpected discoveries, I will have my surgery exactly two weeks after my colonoscopy.

The sand is still far away. Despite this momentum there is a long way to go, but I have the wind at my back and feel warmth and light all around me.

I have always found driftwood to be beautiful. I will never know what it came from. Maybe it was a part of a ship that sank into the depths and only it survived. Maybe it was a branch from a tree on an island that broke and was blown into the sea. Maybe it was something I couldn’t even imagine. The only thing I can know is that it is different from what it was, it may even be better.

Driftwood is proof that incredible transformation can come out of adversity. I always hear that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. But I suppose sometimes what breaks you makes you.


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