Category Archives: Word for 2021: Cherish


Last fall, my husband received a devastating diagnosis. He has Stage IV metastasized prostate cancer. Although this news packs a powerful punch, and there is no soft, kind way to share it, I need to let you know about this major change in my life, dear friends. I am sorry for the pain such news causes.

We have had time now to process the initial shock, to learn much more about what happened and is happening to his body, to begin the process of “getting everything in order,” and to start letting people know about it (although he’s a very private person). And in the middle of all the adjustments and doctor appointments, we are living our new life, which now has a one to four year time limit to it.

We have entered a new world — the world of cancer patients, survivors, caretakers, doctors, nurses, technicians, counselors. Cancer has become the kernel of truth within our daily lives now. Ever-present.

Cancer is a tremendous opportunity to have your face pressed right up against the glass of your mortality.” But what patients see through the glass is not a world outside cancer, but a world taken over by it—cancer reflected endlessly around them like a hall of mirrors.

~ from The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

My husband describes the first months of his disease as “surreal.” Surreal because he felt mostly healthy and normal except for the side effects of his treatment medications, and some pain that came occasionally. His body has been tolerating his treatments well so the cancer has been controlled for the time being. That is slowly changing as this disease finds new ways to get around treatments, but the inevitable decline has not started, yet.

Cancer is an expansionist disease; it invades through tissues, sets up colonies in hostile landscapes, seeking “sanctuary” in one organ and then immigrating to another. It lives desperately, inventively, fiercely, territorially, cannily, and defensively—at times, as if teaching us how to survive. To confront cancer is to encounter a parallel species, one perhaps more adapted to survival than even we are.

~ from The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

He entered this disease in excellent health, with excellent vital signs for his age, and no “co-morbidities,” using the term we’ve heard so often during this Covid-19 pandemic. He was, and still tries to be, active and fit. He feels his best when he is out on his bicycle. Genetic testing showed no genetic mutations that would have caused this to happen, and that, gratefully, are not something our children and my husband’s brothers need to worry about. It just happened. It is real…but it is not yet “real”. Surreal.

Right now, we are deeply grateful and profoundly sad. Grateful that we have time left to be together, to live life together. Grateful that we can face this disease side by side, as we have faced every other challenge in our 52 years together. Grateful for each day that he wakes up in the morning and is “mostly well.” At the same time, we are both profoundly sad, and the sadness comes in waves between otherwise “mostly normal” days.  We are seeing everything in life now through this new lens of impending loss, and are living each moment with crystal clarity. 

And from this vantage point, with deep feeling, I want to ask you to please cherish those you love. Please cherish yourself. Please cherish the daily-ness of your lives. Please cherish all the little things, because, as they say, those are truly the biggest and most important things. Live your life to its fullest, each day, because “today is all of time,” as my grandmother wrote in one of her poems. Today is all of time.

Rainer Maria Rilke: Thoughts on Marriage

52 years and cherishing every moment…

I recently read Letters to a Young Poet, by the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, and found it full of warmth and wisdom. I was particularly touched by his thoughts on marriage that were included in one of the ten letters he wrote the young poet. After 52 years of marriage, I thought he eloquently expressed our own truth.

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926

I Cherish…#4: My Best Friend

Pam and me on the rollercoaster, 1965.

I cherish… my best friend, Pam. We met on the first day of school in 7th grade, in band class. We both played the flute, were seated next to each other, and discovered we were both wearing essentially the same outfit. After a moment of hysterical laughter (forgive us, Mr. Bird!), we proceeded to become best friends. For a lifetime!

Pam sitting on my parents’ memorial bench. She visited it when we were unable to travel to visit it ourselves during quarantine 2020.

There have been times when we’ve been out of touch for awhile, but the minute we get back in communication, the friendship picks up right where it left off.  Since the COVID-19 quarantine started in 2020, we’ve been visiting each other by Zoom. It’s been delightful to ignore the miles between us and the pandemic that keeps friends and families separated, and just visit and laugh on Saturday mornings.

We cherish our shared memories of family members now gone. We cherish our memories of our teenage years and the “capers” and adventures we shared. We cherish the unconditional love and support we have given each other through all the ages and stages. I can’t wait until we can travel once again so that I can visit my buddy, Pam, and give her a great big hug.

Best friends.


The word I chose to guide me through the year 2021 is CHERISH. I am keeping this word ever present in my mind, every day, and I thought I’d start sharing with you some of the people and daily kinds of things I am cherishing right now.

I Cherish…#3: The Grandboy

I cherish my one and only Grandson, Kai. He has been the delight of our lives from the moment of his birth 14 years ago.

The word I chose to guide me through the year 2021 is CHERISH. I am keeping this word ever present in my mind, every day, and I thought I’d start sharing with you some of the people and daily kinds of things I am cherishing right now.

I Cherish…#1: The Daily Things

The word I chose to guide me through the year 2021 is CHERISH. I am keeping this word ever present in my mind, every day, and I thought I’d start sharing with you some of the daily kinds of things I am cherishing right now.

At least once a week, my husband and I pick up a coffee and then head to Fern Hill Wetlands, which is not far from our house. During this winter season, we sit in the car, drink our cups of coffee, and talk over the important (and unimportant) things happening in our life right now. It’s a wonderful way to start the day…together, talking things over, watching the eagles and the waterfowl, and the always dramatic sky.

I cherish these together moments.

My Word for 2021

For the last few years I have chosen a word as my focus for the year. The first word I chose was HOPE, and it was so appropriate for 2019. Then I chose GRATITUDE for 2020, and that turned out to be the perfect word for such a crazy year. It reminded me each day to focus on the positives instead of all the negatives that surrounded us all.

Now that 2021 has finally arrived, I’ve chosen a word that will remind me each day to be present in the moment; to appreciate the love and beauty that surrounds me; and to treasure all the people in my life.

So my guiding word for 2021 is CHERISH.