Wendy Woolfson

Liminal Limbo

I’ve never really looked at my own death in the eye like this before. For many years I thought I wanted to die but what I didn’t know or realise at the time, was that I was in control of that thought and desire, and therefore it was easy to be fearless. I fantasised often about killing myself, how, and when I would do it and what the aftermath would look like. It was narcissistic behaviour at times but also, a lot of the time I was just feeling desperate and lost with no solutions to hand for all the problems I felt I had. It was excruciating and went on for too many years.

Standing at the other side of all of that with my suicidal thoughts processed and all my demons exorcised, I have a clean slate. I am at peace. I have a life that I’m in love with and grateful for. So, when the prospect of death rears its beguiling head back into my life again, it is different. It’s not on my terms anymore, and it’s really scary. I’m not scared of dying, in and of itself, I have a strong spiritual practice that supports me in a knowing that when I die, I will be returned to source in the most gentle and beautiful way and I will be happy with the life I’ve had. I have no regrets in this life, except for not having gone to see Queen perform  in 1985 when I was fourteen at Milton Keynes and instead going on holiday to Benidorm with a friend. It was a great holiday, but I should have seen Queen; Freddie Mercury had been my hero since I was seven years old, and the opportunity never came up again.

It’s not easy to look death in the eye and have a conversation with his good self and play that game of chess at the edge of time. Now, I am older I know what loss is, and what I have to lose. Now, just as my life got really fricking good, I am presented with the very thing I spent many years plotting and praying for. And why didn’t I do it if I wanted it that badly, I hear some of you ask. It always came back to a deep inner knowing that I could get through my struggles and that there were powerful lessons to be learnt in them. I wasn’t wrong in thinking that either, I learnt a great deal from all my hardships and they’ve been put to good use in the work that I do.

I’m standing with barely one step over the threshold of my second, half century, staring down the barrel of a gun, and death is still not an option and for even more reasons than before. I have too much to give.  So much love left to give for a family I do not want to leave, with children I haven’t finished bringing up, and amazing, loving friendships. I’ve made too many plans for work and creative projects, with even in the last couple of months people contacting me, interested in knowing more about my work, and I’m so eager to share and collaborate. I’m not done yet; It feels like I just got started.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in my experience of being in the dance of liminal limbo, at the beginning of a cancer diagnosis but not yet having seen the oncologist to understand more about what type it is and the plan for treatment, how long etc. etc. Facing the dancers pole held low by my surgeon and pain management nurse, wondering how the hell I’m going to make it through as the music plays on. I’ll keep on absorbing the inordinate amount of love and support that has come pouring out to me and my family and be grateful for all of that and all that I have. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, knowing that I can still help others in some way, even if its just sharing this experience.