Limbo. It hurls me up in the air like a Marmaduke falloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, a rope at each paw, suspended over real life. Put me down. Just put me down. I want to sink into something certain, things like ground and gravity.

Limbo sits in the chair next to us while we wait on a pet scan, a job offer, an acceptance letter, a proposal or maybe just a second date. When will the doctor call? Where we will live next year? Will mom even make it to see her grandson born? When will our soldier come home? And whatever will we do with ourselves in between?

So we go on making cupcakes on birthdays, taking garbage cans to the curb on trash day. We go on meeting the school bus and the deadlines. We eat three meals a day and endless snacks, then go on trying to jog it off. But most of time, it feels like filler. This life. Just filler. These are the packing peanuts, we think, nothing but static-ridden, weightless styrofoam. But there should be something more in this box, a present, something gorgeous and fragile, a crystal vase, perhaps. Move aside, packing peanuts. I'm trying to find the real thing.

When does the real life start? It starts, we assume, when the limbo stops, when we hold the crystal vase in hand. When the cancer is gone or the promotion goes through or the house sells. When the parade is finally over and we sink paws to the ground for what feels like the first time.

But we're missing it, aren't we? Life is in the limbo, the parade, the packing peanuts, the chemo-therapy. And we're missing it.


In the limbo-uncertainty scale of things, the days I'm in now wouldn't register very high, not in comparison to the days I've lived before. So now is probably as good a time as any to figure out how I might enjoy the parade while 100 feet in the air, the next time Thanksgiving and fierce uncertainty roll around.

My best friend's sister has cancer. Limbo and chemo. It's not even remotely fair. But do you know what she did the other day? She ran 10 miles. Because the Boston Marathon is only four months away, and it's going to take more than cancer to keep her off the starting line.

She's showing up, owning what life looks like now, not wasting a difficult today on the mirage of an easier tomorrow. I want to be like her when I grow up, to keep my eyes open for the whole parade, even when the heights are dizzying.

I wonder if one way to deal with limbo is to trade acute awareness of what we don't know yet with acute awareness of what's real and right in front of us. For example, I can pull my daughter and a moment close to my chest, laugh when she giggles and says I'm "quishing" her. I can straighten my back, stand like I'm hanging from a string, listen closely to what my senses have to say. I can notice how chili smells strikingly close to body odor. (It must be the cumin?) And how when icicles hover together, they become a cross between percussion and strings, making frozen music. And I can drink with a straw just so I can clink the ice and hear the chaos in whatever it is I'm drinking.

Taking the details in with fervor, sinking into the sweet ordinary moments next to the ones I love. It's not like running a marathon while battling cancer. But I think it's a start.


Are you in the middle of transition, struggling with uncertainty, fear of the unknown, limbo? What things, what people, what moments are real and right in front of you? What helps you to show up, to own your life, in spite of the limbo?

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