State Of Grace

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

12th August 2016
I picked up the contentment from the sea. It blew in on an invisible wave of air and flowed all around me. I stopped and faced it and closed my eyes, let it wash over my face, clean my hair, blow away the stale air of indoors. I tipped back my head and opened my eyes again and looked at the clouds. They were perfect cartoon clouds, rounded and puffy and drifting lazy across the sky. I watched them for a while, my hands holding the damp washing.

I was there. Right there. On my lawn outside my house with the sounds of the school drifting down from the hilltop. My cat did eights around my legs looking for attention and a moment to leap up into my arms, which he only did if I looked down and called him. The chickens were methodically picking their way through my new seedlings; I could hear them behind me.

I looked at the cat. 'Up you come, then,' I told him and up he bounced, landing in my arms. Together, with him providing the deep warm soundtrack prrrrrrrrrrrr we watched the chickens. I knew he was waiting for a chance. I knew the chickens wouldn't let him and he probably knew it too, deep down where he made his purr, so he played this game where he'd creep up on them and chase them a little and they'd cluck angrily and turn on him all puffed up and he'd run off, twitching his nose. Now he ignored them, rubbed his head against my chin and settled himself over my shoulder, a living shawl.

I carried on hanging out the washing, the cat balancing, me bending down awkwardly balancing him back.





All those things and something else; a feeling I was due this, after the ups and downs and sheer hard work of the last few years of moving and children and family illness and depression and my autoimmune illness and relationship difficulties and all of it, everything else. Nothing huge but together all very massive and overwhelming.

I breathed in that perfect sea air and smiled, tickled the cat under his chin and looked out to sea.

I didn't want to try and describe it any more; I just wanted to feel it and enjoy it for I'd never known anything quite like it, sober. Straight. In the morning.

I listened and all the sounds were just right: the distant dog, the children's playground shouts and squeals rising and falling in the wind across the village, the seagulls, the waves, the wind and the chickens' baby dinosaur noises that meant worm worm mine mine gerroff! They were like little golfers, the way they ran, little armless golfers, their plus-fours chubbing about their legs as they dashed after the newest member of the flock who'd pulled an indignant worm from the ground and was going to take it away from her sisters to eat it under a bush on her own thank you very much.

I smiled to myself, grateful, thanking I didn't know who because I don't believe in any one Thing or Who, just in the energy that fills us and surrounds us.

For a few seconds, I was in a state of grace. Suspended for a few seconds in my life, able to see all the best bits of it and appreciate them and feel them and experience them fully and know how beautiful they were. I was right there in that moment and it was a moment of perfection. Me, the washing, the cat, the chickens and the sea.

But I am too in tune with life, generally. I know when periods of difficulty are coming my way. I was given this short perfect moment, shortly before this thought burst into me:

Oh shit, what's coming...?

For I felt it, something wicked, coming at me over the sea.



at me.

I looked up at the sky. I may have mumbled thank you, for those perfect moments I'd just known.

In the next instant, I had a glimmer of an idea of what was coming.

Really? I thought. Do I have to? Fucking Really? (This last 'really' would have been in italics if I was able to do it.) Really?

And the answer, drifting down at me from whence all that good had just entertaineth me, was Yes. Yes, really.

'Oh bring it on then,' I said to the sky. 'I'll bloody well deal with it.'

It was that night I found the lump. So tiny it almost wasn't there, but I knew right then what it took the next five weeks and a lot of tests to find out for sure.

The C word. I wasn't able to say it for a while without it being a bit uncertain. Cancer. Really? Again: italics.

cancer cancer cancer cancer

My birth sign. My grandmother's death sentence.

By the pricking of my thumbs after the temporary extraordinary state of grace I'd found myself in, something wicked this way came.

Apparently I'm being brave and positive and tackling it head on at a rush - as I do everything. This is good because I'm feeling like that inside too, post op, still sore, but positive and four months down the line of this weird trip. I'm glad the exterior and the interior feelings are the same. I've not fallen apart. I've taken on the challenge - not willingly but knowing I had no choice. It was coming, whether or not I wanted it to. Like a roller coaster or giving birth, once it's started there's nowt you can do but hang the hell on and go with it.

I've learnt a hell of a lot in these last few months. It began with this state of grace, this tiny peek at life's beauty, this knowledge that I'd actually reached a peak and for now, would get no higher. There was another hill - there's always another hill. And that hill hath lessons and up we climb because the only alternative is to sit on your jacket and use it as a sledge and slide






Not an option. I want to get to the top again.

I've always been trying to live properly and fully and well, having posters and cards and inspirational quotes written on my windows. Live now! Live, Love Laugh! Live every day as if it's your last! Don't have regrets.... You know the kind of sayings, right? Everyone's got a favourite. I had heaps and in the end I wasn't really living any of them; I just liked having them around me.

Being told I have cancer is the biggest push to live life fully I've ever had or ever experienced.

Wow. Everyday, I get Wow moments. Lots of them! Always with an exclamation mark at the end! I've never lived so fully.

And here's the rub: if it wasn't for that state of Being, that perfect moment hanging out my washing surrounded by fur and feathers and the big blues of the sea and the sky, I'd never have allowed myself to be enough IN the moment, to just stop and feel and experience it, without rushing and thinking and planning and all the things we do every day, and if I'd never allowed myself to be fully in that moment I'd not have felt the wicked thing blowing in at me and I'd not have found the lump because why would I even have checked?

What an exquisite irony, and one I am grateful for being given.

All agree I found it early. So tiny it wasn't seen on a mammogram, even. But the nurse told me if I'd not found it, if I'd not checked, it could have been there for......... YEARS.......... Sorry for shouting. Years. By which time, it could all have been too late becasue it could

spread the


over place

and I would have been dying instead of learning how to live.

Interesting. I was planning to write a story this evening about a bloke who thinks he's in a state of grace and uses it as an excuse to murder baddies but the whole thing's a con and... I won't give it away in case I decide to write it again. Instead, I've written about my own little state of grace, my own tiny glimpse of peace in a moment. I hope you enjoyed reading it. And don't be scared, in case cancer's a thing that really scares you. It's a monster, sure, but it's a monster we are all capable of taking on, and smiling whilst we do it.

And the best thing of all? I remember how it felt to be right there, in that place, with my cat and my chickens and my washing. And I allow myself to be right There, wherever I am.