Wednesday was a special day for me. I spent an hour talking with Angelo Merendino. (Please go look at his photos at mywifesfightwithcancer.com). I wondered what it would be like talking to a photographer without the benefit of his photographs to look at. He is clearly a visual person, having captured their time with cancer in a deeply revealing, compelling and openhearted way.
My concern was for nothing. His words and heart are reflected in his photos- everything goes together. I was moved and transported by his story, imagining their life together but also remembering my own time with cancer. I have my version of those amazing images, the hairless head, the huge smile, the empty bed. And so he took me back to the joys and the sorrows of living with cancer right next to me. He also reminded me how those times are connected to the way I live now, the ways that my experience of deepest loss wrote itself on my life. It shows in the way I conduct my marriage now, the way I love my children and my friends, the way I work, even the way I talk to checkers in the super market. I cannot find anything in my life that wasn’t deepened by facing up to that most difficult time.
So I am grateful, not for the experience, but what I was able to learn form it. Not for the loss, but what I was able to gain from it.
And I’m grateful to Angelo, for the reminder.