By James M. Iacono
Just about 3 years ago I told you of the detour that a good friend of mine had to take. It wasn’t by choice. It wasn’t part of a blueprint that he had engineered long ago that would define the closing years of his earthly journey. Simply put, the path he was on suddenly came to a road block. He was forced to take a detour, a rocky road, one he would be on for two years that sadly but mercifully came to a dead end.
I am now on that detour. I have cancer. Just saying those words seems surreal. I feel no different…. great in fact, as I readily admit I have been blessed beyond the highest bar I ever imagined for myself. But cancer is a possession I now have, in stark contrast to “having” a new palomino, or “having” a cold, or “having” a case of the yips on the putting green. It’s closer to “having” bad judgment in selecting new friends, for somehow I let it in to the temple - my body. It’s a paradox regarding how it arrived. Did it come in like a tempestuous tornado- blustery and unbridled, for my world sure feels upside down now.
Or was it more like a slinking sleuth…. tempestuous but as sly as a backdoor thief?
One thing I know is that it has my attention. I am watching what I eat, I’m joining a gym, I’m reading up on my prognosis, my emotions going from cautious optimism to destined doom. Through it all, I realize the one familiar possession I still have is my life- and what a life it is! How blessed am I to have a supportive wife, kids that are now on their own, friends that offer me encouragement or a helping hand whenever I need it? I have riding buddies, with whom I can marvel at the beauty of these foothills, share a story or a joke, and with hair blown back, drink a warm Santa Ana wind. And, of course, I have horses. They are always awaiting me in the morning, greeting me with a whinny when they hear the front door shut, cueing my imminent arrival to the barn. They seem to sense something awry, nuzzling more than usual lately. But there’s something so perfect about the routine- About the morning feeding, the mucking, the watering, the supplements at night, and of course carrots… the crunch of satisfaction that every horse sings , and sings, for an endless chorus of encores. It is something so perfect, that I yearn for its repetition as if it is the motor that sustains me.
I know I have friends and cousins who would say climb on my back, let me carry you through this season of life, I will get you to the other side. But Nash or Lacey or Jackson don’tjust say it… they literally let me sit and get comfortable while they carry me. They carry me down into canyons, up the foothill ridgelines, and through the Arroyo. They let me enjoy the scenery, while they take pleasure in my joy, in my lightness of being. And it’s not something they offer just when my cards are stacked against me, when I’m down on my luck. They offer me a ticket to ride whenever I ask- a juxtaposed relationship that mimics history as far back as man has walked this earth- that is until he discovered a better way to travel. My horse carries me through this time- just as he always has.