About ten years ago, a friend went through successful treatment for a cancerous tumor on his tongue. He was not yet 40 and the treatment was horrendous. In addition to radiation treatment, part of his tongue was removed and reconstructed from his other tissue. One of the short-term side effects of treatment was that he lost his sense of taste. He also had to eat a liquid diet so his food also lacked texture. The preparation of all of his meals ended with a trip to the blender.

He has recounted to me at least a few times, the day he experienced, “the most flavorful” meal he had experienced for a long time, as his sense of taste began to return. It was a salmon meal I had made and brought to him, his wife, and his then young son. And yes, it had been prepared in a blender.

A salmon smoothie sounds like a really bad idea. It sounds like it would taste terrible. But as was regaining a lost sense, he noticed what he had gained rather than the fact that it did not taste like salmon he’d enjoyed before cancer.

Eight years ago, when I went through cancer treatment, so much changed in so little time. One of the changes is that I spent the summer, a glorious Seattle summer, in and out of surgery. There was no hiking or camping that summer. However, the following summer was an absolute delight. I hiked. I camped. I’d enjoyed it before, very much so, but I felt a keen sense of joy after the previous summer. The experience was dialed up in intensity.

And now, along with the rest of the world, I find life having changed all at once. We have all lost something in this pandemic. It has been challenging for us all. For some of us, it is harrowing. Fortunately, I am healthy and I am not forced to work in dangerous situations. My family and friends are healthy. I am not so worried about potential death. Yes, it could happen, but it is likely that I will be alive when the COVID-19 pandemic is ended by effective treatment and a vaccine.

I am allowing myself to wonder about what it will be like to savor the experiences that I will again have, to venture about the world more freely. I think about the first time I will be able to give my mom a hug again.

The waiting is hard but the waiting is necessary.

Be well,