Dying from cancer means being a little bit less alive every day. That sounds weird, and it is. But I look back six months, for example, when I was still tromping around the mountains up in Whistler, driving down to Seattle, and taking hundreds of photos of my cousin's wedding—and I couldn't do any of those things now. Yet there's no obvious mark of when each one became out of the question.
I suspect a lot of "last things" are like that: they pass by as every previous one has done, and you don't realize until later that you'll never do them again. I knew long ago that I'd likely never go scuba diving or skiing again, but that was still well after my last dive and ski trip. When I didn't bring my bicycle out of storage last summer, it occurred to me that I'd probably taken my last ride the summer before. Sometimes it is obvious at the time too: it was clear when we visited Disneyland recently that I was unlikely to see California again afterwards.
Beyond that, I've found myself less interested in some of my main hobbies. I'm winding down my involvement with the Inside Home Recording podcast, in part because I'm too ill to keep hosting, but also because recording music at home doesn't interest me much anymore. I haven't released a new tune online in almost two years, in fact. (I think what I really enjoy is playing music live, and I've been unable to perform a full gig since late 2009.) And after accumulating a bunch of cameras and lenses, I'm not taking very many photographs these days either.
It's not that I'm giving up on all the things I like, but that I have to admit when they're no longer enjoyable or physically possible. Sometimes, for instance, my big SLR camera really does feel too heavy to lug around, which it never used to. Still, I never seem to tire of writing, whether on this blog or in little bursts on Twitter and Facebook, or in comments on other people's sites.
Writing is the creative act I've practiced the longest, in fact. I remember enjoying it very early in elementary school. It's why I started this website back in 1997, to promote my nascent freelance writing and editing business. It's what's made me most of my living for my entire adult life.
So I keep doing what I can do, whittling down to the core of both what I like and what I'm still capable of. Facing my own illness and death is clarifying. The less possible or important things burn off, or I let them drift away. What's left is as much of me as I can keep going. A little less, but still me.