“Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.” Richard David Bach, (American Writer), Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
We have left the harsh cold of snow-land, the world of white and winter, and have arrived in Florida, eager to listen to the music of the wave-washed coast. We are ready to bask in the warm sunshine, and it is here that I have found the sanctuary I need to write “the sequel” to, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag.
That narrative is a book I did not originally set out to write. Just a little more than a year before I published it, I had arrived at death’s door after a 4 year struggle with illness and suffering. I survived against all odds, it was an amazing triumph of the surgical medical team, home care workers, my caregiver/life partner Mark, my body, and my human spirit. I fully embrace the full and glorious extent of this, and I am in awe.
During that year I was engaged on the battlefields of body recovery. My goal was to transform myself through a spectacular recovery. As I am a writer, one of the ways of clearing my thoughts and laundering my emotions is to write. And so, during that year, on a daily basis, I would write a word, a sentence, or paragraph on how I was feeling, what had happened, what I was experiencing, and where I thought I was.
I felt my light needed to sparkle and shine once again. I had high hopes. I knew I was recovering but didn’t know how much recovery would actually occur. Is there a limit; or is it limitless?
Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, chronicles the journey of me, an ordinary person, who had to endure a devastating illness, emergency lifesaving surgery, the creation of Percy (stoma), and the year long recovery that brought me to my 1st ostomaversary. On that day, we enjoyed a celebration of life, filled with friends, good eats, and all the sparkle July 21, 2012, could bring.
On the next day, I sat down and read all of the musings, rants, and laughs I had experienced and jotted down in the darkest and lightest of moments during that year. When I had finished reading, I realized that in spite of myself, I had written a book that would become, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, From the brink of death to recovery through humour and inspiration. And, it was also the day that the full impact of reality set in, and I realized that although the official recovery process was now completed, the lingering carnage from the original disease, the damage from the extensive surgery, and the emotional toll it takes to adapt and live with an altered body function, was just beginning.
Percy, my life sustaining stoma and I are at the beginning of our, “beginning again”. Hmm…well ah, beginning of what, why, when, where and the how of a new life, new self, a new normal, whatever the heck that’s supposed to be, at any rate.
My journey is not complete. No journey I suppose ever is. So, marching to the beat of the recovery drum that sets the pace, I am now writing “the sequel”, which will be published later this year. It will be a book in which, together, we will explore the fact that regardless of your life altering occurrence, the truth and authenticity of whatever has struck you like a bolt of lightning cannot be erased. And, one of the key’s to success is to know and believe the grief you feel is not a place where you stand stuck. It is a process, a challenging and remarkable journey.
The sequel is about not being bound by physical or social challenges. We all have the ability to get on with life with the cards we have been dealt through strength and determination. Percy (Stoma) is co-writing the book with me. Well, what can I say? That little stoma has an opinion on everything, and we know Percy likes to toot his own horn.
Of seagulls, sand, and sequels in life, we observe from the edge of the waves, a vast ocean of life and possibilities. As Richard Back says in his story – Jonathan Livingston Seagull, “Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”
Jo-Ann L. Tremblay