Love Letters to Life
The worst day became the best day with a flip of a switch from lights out, “I’m gonna die”, to lights on, “I’m stayin’ alive” … Life has the final say.
Love Letters to Life began as a daily writing and painting practice of gratitude after I had a near-death experience in 2018 that left my health and life compromised. Each morning, I wrote and posted online a letter with an image from my artwork, letting friends know how I was doing, what was happening, and how grateful I was to be alive.
Thirteen months later, on January 14th, 2020 at 2:30pm, I was diagnosed with cancer: Aggressive Large Cell Lymphoma between my heart and lung, and Stage 4 Slow Cell Lymphoma throughout the pelvic region. My bones were hollow and not making red and white blood cells fast enough for living – I went home slowly from the Cancer Center feeling numb and thought, “Chemo is not for me”. Going out into the desert to die under a cactus tree seemed like a rational plan being that I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico where there’s desert and cactus.
But that evening at 10:00pm, I received an extraordinary email: “Hi Pamela, I found your website on Ancestry.com. Your profile came up as a Parent/Child match. I reside in Connecticut and am adopted, so I wonder if you might be my mother. You can check out my profile on Ancestry. Please let me know either way if you would like to learn more as I’d be happy to connect with you. Yours truly, Tracy”
I opened the link to Ancestry.com and there saw a photo of a radiant, smiling face that looked like my twin but younger. The baby girl who I had released for adoption 51 years ago, when I was fifteen years old, found me via our DNA match and contacted me on the very day I was diagnosed with life threatening cancer.
The worst day became the best day in a matter of minutes with Tracy’s miraculous and timely arrival, flipping the switch from lights out, “I’m gonna die” to lights on, “I’m stayin’ alive”.
My ferocious, mother-love kicked in, giving the energy, hope and courage needed to go through ass-kicking chemo and going bald: I lost all of my signature, beautiful, long hair.
At the same time, an unprecedented pandemic, Covid-19, spread throughout the world with catastrophic speed and deaths, taking the life of my closest male friend on Jan 15th, 2020. Covid-19 sent everyone, everywhere into self-quarantine except for front-line workers. No cure. No commerce. No travel. No life as we knew it. No help going to chemo.
There was no slacking off for me on any of the daily have to’s: multiple doctor visits, hospital procedures, chemo treatments, medications, healthy meals (I couldn’t taste) and physical therapy. I continued to write a letter of gratitude posted on Social Media, thanking Life for sending in an army of love and support in all sizes and shapes and surprises. Some of those letters had their share of moaning and groaning with tears and fears, and on those days, my family and friends sent me bigger love.
The Love Letters to Life helped my feet keep moving, my heart keep loving, my life keep living, one breath at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time. The result: Cancer free, healthy and strong, in spite of the odds. The gifts: Living in the moment and loving life with all the odds behind and ahead.
Love Letters to Life is a Big Thank You to Life with a message:
Have hope no matter what the circumstances. Miracles Happen. Worst Day. Best Day. Lean into Love.
Pamela Markoya is an artist and writer living in Santa Fe, NM. She and her daughter, Tracy, who lives on the coastline of CT, have a smile-filled and loving relationship, getting to know one another via Zoom during the ongoing pandemic. They look forward to meeting in person and giving one another a hug.
Pamela and Tracy both enjoy posting daily words and pictures on Social Media.
Excerpt from Julia Cameron’s recently published book,
THE LISTENING PATH: The Creative Art of Attention, 2021
Interview with Pamela Markoya, Week Three: Listening to Our Higher Self
Julia Cameron “I pick up the phone and call Pamela Markoya, a Santa Fe artist I have known for several years. I know that she approaches her art through listening, and I ask her to lunch. I believe that she actively listens to her higher self in the process of creation, and when we meet up later at a Japanese restaurant, she confirms my belief…”
Pamela Markoya “My practice is to sit, breathe, and listen,” she starts off. “My writing is an art form meant to be shared. I write love letters to my beloved, with the knowledge that they will be read. Literally, for writing, I put the ink pen to the page and listen to hear the words and write what I hear. It is as though my listening ear is connected to the ink. I could be surprised, and often am, at what’s written.” Pamela sips at her tea and gathers her thoughts. She continues. “I stop writing when I don’t hear anything. The voice unfolds one word after another, distinctively. It has intonation, lyricism and color. Often there’s humor, and I really ‘hear’ the letters coming through with humor and levity. “
“When I paint”, she says, “I breathe and clear everything. Although it is a visual art and informed by what I see, I listen to the brush, and there’s a very clear direction. In the process of mark-making, I rarely change anything. The mark-making is a language I listen to.”