Two evenings ago, I browsed through Netflix in search of something to watch. For some reason, I was pulled towards the Documentaries section. I enjoy watching documentaries but usually, I get distracted by the film and comedy TV series sections where I don’t have to think too deeply and topics brushed upon are generally less serious, at least the ones I tend to watch.
So when I hit upon Cristina and scanned through the synopsis, I wasn’t quite sure about whether I really wanted to watch it seeing that it was about cancer. I wasn’t in the mood for anything too depressing but it was a mere 37 min watch so I figured why not? I can always hit the ‘pause’ or ‘stop’ button and switch to something else.
After watching this short film, I felt this silence in me as a flurry of thoughts whirled in my head.
Why was Cristina struck with cancer. Not once but twice.
Why did she suffer?
Why did she die?
She seemed the epitome of life and love. She was young, doing well in her career as a script manager in Hollywood. She had met the love of her life and they married even after he found out about her first diagnosis. She fought cancer once and won. She was so optimistic. Her future, so bright!
How did she get cancer?
How does cancer choose its victims?
How did it not die the second time around?
She mentions having lived a well balanced, healthy life. She didn’t smoke, hardly drank, didn’t do drugs, ate well, exercised. And still! It ate away her muscles and reduced her strong body into skin and bones. She fought on with positivity, light-hearted banter with her army of supporters, and tried to hold on to statistics that suggested she may have a chance to live 5-10 years with what she had.
A few things she said hit me in all its truth. She said something like how the closer you are to death; the more alive you feel. I guess for me, that holds a lot of water in that in an ironic way, the ‘sicker’ and closer to death I am, the more creative, the more ‘awake’ I feel. It’s almost as though everything gets clearer in its lucidity. Perhaps it is this notion that life should be a balance of everything, and upsetting the balance by going towards the extremes heightens our awareness of emotions and experiences.
As Cristina reflected on her illness, she said that she had experienced real, true, pure love with her husband, Bruce. Through the film, it was apparent their love for each other and the bond they shared. She shared that she would rather have had this love than to live a long life and never found a love like this one.
She also said that perhaps her life, as short as it looked to be, might be a reminder to people that the only guarantee in life is RIGHT NOW because yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is never really there. To have ‘right now’ is a gift that we should all embrace.
For many of us, it should be a wake up call to live. LIVE. To be alive. It reminds me of something I once said during recovery – that we only have this life to live, and we have the rest of eternity to be dead. So why? Why do I let myself slip ever closer to the edge of death when there is so much more to live for? Why do I hang on to destruction instead of trying to build myself up into something more? Why do I feel the need to be in control when I know that control is in essence me losing control?
There are people who have no choice in the illnesses that strike them, that they have to fight through. And something that I remember thinking before is the fact that as much as ED is a psychological illness, it is also an illness that I can master over. As Dr. L once reminded me, my stubborness can also be seen as determination. If my mind is strong enough to pull me down into the deathly pits of ED, it can sure as hell pull me back up into the splendor of life in all its beauty and once in a while, its repulsion as well. It has done so more than a few times, and it can do it again.
But as F reminded me yesterday, it’s not about talk but about action. And I need to start acting as much as I am currently experience mental inertia. 😦