13. “Right on time” – Epilogue

Writing “a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work” (to quote from an online dictionary) is always a daunting task, dear reader. (Even if one has many years of first-hand experience as an academic, I would argue.)

“Wait – aren’t you going to ask the reader whether they skipped to this part?”

“No,” I said to “Dr. Barb”.

“But that worked well in Perfect Timing, especially the ‘I forgive you if you did’ part,” she noted. So, why not repeat it?

“Because it would feel like borrowing from my past self, not unlike a certain George Frideric Handel.” (This German-born British composer had successfully upcycled his own music, including the catchy Hallelujah chorus in his most famous work, Messiah.)

It’s not just any calendar

“Well, at least you would not be plagiarizing,” stated “Dr. Barb” and smiled.

My top-hatted guide, on the other hand, was more interested in the beautiful cat calendar that hung across from my condo’s front door.

“I would like to point out that today is July 12,” he said with his deep bass voice.

“And don’t forget how important July 13 has been in your life,” he added, adjusting his black, shiny top hat.

My main guide was arguably referring to the 45th anniversary of my father’s death in 1977 and the 36th anniversary of my emigration to Canada, respectively.

“Is there a connection between those particular dates and this Epilogue?” I turned to the writing guide who had been summoned in mid-May 2022 for assistance.

By the way, “Dr. Barb” had asked him once whether he had already been around for Perfect Timing. “No, I had nothing to do with that one,” he replied. “In fact, I don’t ever work with the same author twice.” Fascinating!

“Of course, there is a connection,” the writing guide said. (He sounded remarkably like my youngest nephew when he had figured out that I was, um, “just a bit stupid.”)

“These dates were chosen to serve as a deadline for the first complete draft of this memoir because our past inevitably informs our future,” the writing guide explained. “And the dates also align with the title of this book.”

“Let me guess – these dates were ‘right on time’ just like that karmic episode in February 2021,” said my top-hatted guide, feeling clever.

It had not been lost on me either that the first complete draft of the Preface to this sequel had been penned on February 23, 2022.

It had been on that exact same date a year earlier when I had been given a “special task” by the universe to write down the first part of my cancer story.

“And you were pushing me so hard to get this sequel done by July 13, 2022, because a bunch of two-year anniversaries are coming up, right?” I asked, feeling similarly clever.

“That is correct,” the writing guide answered. (I had first noticed a lump in my lower left abdomen on July 17 and reported symptoms on July 23, 2020.)

As far as the online publication date of this sequel was concerned, I could rely on the universe for it to appear “right on time.”

I then wondered whether the writing guide had “any brilliant ideas for this Epilogue” because he was clearly “on fire” (to quote “Dr. Barb”.)

“Of course.” I was to use “discarded” chapter subtitles to ponder my healing efforts (“Choose two long ones and two short ones.”)

“He’s hired,” announced “Dr. Barb”.


Write on time

If this play on words in the subtitle just made you laugh or groan (or both), you are not alone. “I spoke too soon,” admitted “Dr. Barb”.

Yet, this chapter subtitle works, in my humble opinion. It draws attention to the overall authorial lens I used to pen this sequel, namely that of hindsight which, indeed, relates to “time.”

To that end, I would like to share four important realizations I made during my recovery and healing from cancer over the course of 15 months; that is, between May 2021 and July 2022.


1.) That was then, and this is now (aka “The roaster was too small”)

The first part of this statement is a tribute to my beloved pastor-friend based in Alberta. She would quote “That was then, and this is now” often to emphasize that change is the only constant in life (was versus is.)

Translation: if I stayed flexible in mind, body, and spirit (then versus now), the universe would help me to grow as a human being.

The second part refers to a hilarious story my “TV couple” friends, specifically the wife, once shared with me.

The title/punchline (“too small”) emphasizes that just because someone else did something a certain way in the past – like always cut off the wings of a huge turkey or the sides of a big ham because the pan wasn’t big enough – did not have to mean that I had to follow in that person’s footsteps for the rest of my life, too.

In other words, old behavioral patterns must not turn into vows of sorts (or vice versa.)


2.) As I let go of the need to arrange my life (aka “It’s a balancing act”)

Credit for the first part of this realization must go to Deepak Chopra, specifically to his free 21-Day Abundance Meditation program online.

My top-hatted guide had first drawn my attention to this awesome online resource when I had finished my last round of chemotherapy in late January 2021.

Chopra’s short yet inspired daily messages each end with a “centering thought” prior to the actual meditation part, and they continue to make a huge difference in my spiritual life.

Chopra’s “centering thought” for Day 13 is given below. It provides clear step-by-step instructions as to what individuals like yours truly need to keep in mind as they try to control every facet of their lives.

To that end, please humour me by reading the following section out loud (or, if you prefer, in your head) and emphasize the word(s) that are underlined:

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …

As I let go of the need to arrange my life …  

If that exercise was helpful, you are welcome. If it was not, then you have my writing guide to blame. (He can take that sort of criticism, he assures me.)

The second part (“It’s a balancing act”) describes my approach to life nearly two years after my cancer diagnosis. I would like to thank “Barb 2.0”, my health (or healer?) guide, for insisting that I checked in with myself (and her) regularly, if not daily.

Insightful questions such as “Is this urgent?”, “Can this wait?”, and “Is there someone else I could delegate this task to?” are now as much part of my “new vocabulary” as a cancer survivor.

I have also put incredibly powerful statements such as “not my job,” “not the right time,” and – my favourite – “no longer me” at the top of my list of “appropriate responses in times of a (perceived) crisis.”

Translation: to keep on growing, you must adjust your internal and external dialogue or risk falling back into old and completely useless patterns.


3.) Single and catless (aka “Some things don’t change”)

This realization comes to you courtesy of a keychain I had bought at a Farmer’s Indoor Market in Regina during my second checkup trip in November 2021.

My life in a nutshell

Its cute message puts a smile on my face every time I read it, and for good reason.

It draws attention to two important facts about me – no partner, no pets – that had not changed during my time of recovery and healing.

After all, I had other, more important issues to attend to. (Hint: re-read the Table of Contents of this book, if you cannot remember.)

The bit in brackets, “Some things don’t change,” emphasizes that humor has been my wonderful companion in times of joy and in times of sadness.

In fact, trying to make myself and my readers laugh (ideally out loud) throughout this sequel served as a bridge into my soul’s journey. Depending on the situation, it also mirrored it at times.

“That’s pretty philosophical, even for you,” my top-hatted guide observed.

“We call it feminine wisdom,” he was told by a smiling “Barb 2.0”.


4.) Where is my tiara?

This rhetorical question refers to my “sparkle,” that is, my overall energy level. Feeling like a “diamond” had been an important goal of my cancer survivor self (if you remember the limerick from the Preface.)

However, taking a look at my “tiara” almost one year after finishing cancer treatments and realizing that my energy level had only reached 50%, was a tough pill to swallow, to say the least.

At the same time, it was an excellent reminder to be patient with myself. My body, mind, and soul needed time to stabilize after a lengthy period of physical turmoil.

On that note, I want you to know that my “sparkle” noticeably changed as I was healing and recovering to the better. Why?

Because the universe had granted me a much-needed, if not overdue, physical, mental, and spiritual reset.

“That’s called a karmic course correction in my book,” my main guide pointed out.

“We call it fate,” explained my health guide, “Barb 2.0”.


You want to keep me?

Quick question: what was the final sentence of the previous chapter, “A new priority”?

“Is this some kind of, um, test with, like, grades and stuff?” my inner child asked. She was enjoying a big chocolate chip cookie.

“No,” I said patiently.

“The answer is ‘It is, however, not the end of this book,’” replied a confident “Dr. Barb”.

“I don’t understand the question,” my top-hatted guide commented, audibly confused.

In response I played an important memory clip from early July 2022 of a conversation in my head. My inner child had taken the lead.

“How long are you going to stick around?” she had asked “Barb 2.0”, sounding unexpectedly serious.

My health guide suddenly looked weary and sad. She was visibly worried that without her keeping me on the straight and narrow (ideally forever), I was going to fall back into old habits despite having survived a critical health incident.

“I don’t think her work is done here yet,” my top-hatted guide observed.

“I agree,” stated Dr. Barb.

“I think you should stay with us forever,” my inner child proclaimed, channeling her inner drama queen.

“You mean all of you want to keep me?” My health guide looked positively stunned.

“Barb 2.0”, who had joined my “inner crew” after I finished cancer treatments in late March 2021 and done an outstanding job ever since, began to cry softly.

Everyone (in my head) was dumbfounded by her emotional reaction, to put it mildly. After a few awkward moments, my main guide took off his top hat. (Apparently, it scratches.)

“I know what will cheer her up.” He smiled when my inner child began to hug “Barb 2.0” tightly to show her deep admiration.

“The diamond ring that ‘Dr. Barb’ gave to herself as a present for finishing a doctorate,” he stated.

The piece of jewelry to which my main guide was referring had been quietly gathering dust in my safety deposit box at the bank.

It had seemed like an excellent idea in the mid-1990s to task my former East Indian roommate to buy “whatever $300 will get me at your trusted jeweler’s shop” in her hometown, Chennai.

However, when I put this sparkling “reward of sorts” on my finger, it felt weird. “This isn’t me,” I remember thinking at the time.

After all, when would I ever have an occasion to show off this gorgeous gemstone without being asked by someone (or everyone?) whether I had recently become engaged (to, um, my “dead German composer boyfriend”)?

To my great relief, neither my roommate nor “Dr. Barb” had been upset with my less than enthusiastic reaction.

Interestingly, my inner child was miffed about me not wanting to wear the diamond ring in public, as she loved all things sparkly.

(The argument that this piece of jewelry would likely increase in value over the years, even if it was not a Stradivarius violin, was completely lost on my “little one”, by the way.)

Upon my return to Saskatchewan in mid-August, I was going to retrieve the ring from the safety deposit box, have it professionally assessed – and then wear it.

It would not only be a visible reminder of how much I had changed since my diagnosis, but also keep me accountable to the universe to put my health first.

“I appreciate the sentiment,” said “Barb 2.0”. She was visibly moved by my main guide’s gem of a suggestion.

Then the writing guide drew attention to himself by pretending to cough. “Um, excuse me, folks, would it be okay for me to stick around as well?”

“That would be very much appreciated,” answered “Dr. Barb”. She knew from first-hand experience that copy-editing could be a pain in the neck.

“And don’t hesitate to contact the universe for more help, should there be a third part in the making,” the writing guide added, winking at me.

“A trilogy? You’ve got to be kidding.” I was shaking my head in disbelief.

“Maybe not right away, but sometime in the future,” he suggested, grinning from ear to ear.

They want to keep me!

Was this writing guide perhaps implying that I would, um, finally find the love of my life, win the lottery, and get a cat (not necessarily in that order) …?

“Who knows?” said “Barb 2.0” (with an enigmatic smile!).

Then she put on the sparkling new “energy tiara” – that the universe had gifted her for a job well done – with pride. In fact, she was never going to take it off because it fit her perfectly!

Suddenly, I realized that an important question had been weighing heavily on my mind.

“How can I be sure that I am to share more stories of my past, present, and future with my readers – and when?” I asked her.

“The universe will let you know, my dear.”

“Thank you,” I said from the bottom of my heart.

In hindsight, Perfect Timing and Right on Time had helped me turn into a much better version of myself.

And for that, I would always be grateful to the universe, regardless of what the future would hold in store for me, surprises and all.

Spoiler alert: when I finished this chapter on July 15, 2022, I considered it – and the first full draft of this sequel – complete.

I was wrong.


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