Recently a reader asked what the “red, red wine” in the title of my blog was all about. It struck me because anyone who knows me knows that if it’s after 5:00 here, chances are good there is an open bottle of red, and very few things make me happier than sharing a glass with a friend or loved one. But until the reader asked, I never really thought about how loaded that glass of wine is….
USA Today just published Weighing Cancer Risks, From Cellphones to Coffee . The gist of the article is that there are few things that AREN’T implicated in cancer. The article asks which is worse: the leeching of chemicals from a Styrofoam coffee cup, or the very fact that you’re sitting (not exercising) while drinking it? In fact, California Prop. 65 requires the state to annually produce a list of all known carcinogens and/or reproductively toxic chemicals. Last updated in May 2011, the list includes nearly 800 chemicals, some of which are found in my red wine. My chemotherapeutics appear on the list as well. I am not sure it is even feasible to avoid them all, and I can hardly imagine the impact of the stress created by worrying about it.
Life is fleeting. The verdict on the health benefits of wine is still out, and I’ve yet to be with a group of survivors which doesn’t use that ambiguity to our advantage! So why the “red, red wine”? Because I’m alive.
One of the blessings of being a survivor is that we can embrace deeply the reality that we are mortal. In doing so, we can wake up each and every day seeking to reap the most from whatever life brings. That gift is in no way the exclusive domain of survivors, nor does every survivor embrace it. But there is something quite poignant about looking one’s mortality in the eye and cheating it! Borrowed time is especially sweet.
After my treatments were done, surgery was behind me, and I was seeking to find my “new normal,” a friend gave me the gift of a necklace. The attached charm was a book of sorts…a gold spiral that lifts up to reveal a silver plate with a quote by author Emile Zola. It reads: “I am here to live aloud.” I wear it now, and I wear it often. I love when people ask me about it because it is an opportunity to share. It is a constant reminder of the support and friendship that was gifted to me by her and so many others during such a challenging time. And too, it reminds me of what I live for.
It’s not always easy to live life with intensity. There are times when it is exhausting, and others when I need to dial it down just to be tolerated by those around me. But for me, surviving has been much like upping the ante on the rainbow…it no longer exists in muted, translucent pastels, but rather in bold jewel tones; bright and engaging. And the pot of gold is right there in front of me always, one coin for each day I was never promised, another coin the new friend that enters my life, one the old one who still hangs around, the embrace of a loved one, the sweetness of a kiss, the beauty of a sunset, the sip of red, red wine.