I climbed the hill behind our house in the freezing rain today -- my birthday, and also the eighth anniversary of my leukemia diagnosis -- and it sounded as if I was walking on potato chips. Papa's Rock, my destination, attempted a smile despite its disappointment with the weather. The forest litter at my feet glittered. The emerging greenery laid flat in surrender, caught by surprise.
It was a completely different experience than my previous climb, two weeks before, on Easter. That afternoon was blustery but the sky was blue, and it took only a little effort to believe that spring was coming. I stilled myself, as my father liked to when in the woods. As I sat on Papa's Rock I felt as if I were inside a living, breathing thing, awakening.
Bugs were out, for crying out loud.
Today, as I stood beside the rock, I felt ... cold. Ah well. But feeling cold is feeling alive. And here, on the other side of cancer, that's plenty good enough.