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Control isn't always possible, but feeling and imagination and a touch of transcendence are. I've taken to grabbing a cup of tea and heading for the roof of my Lower East Side apartment building on mornings when sleep doesn't seem to be an option. Last Thursday at 6:40 A.M., it was pouring. The drops of rain pelting against tin flowerpots sounded like bacon frying. The air smelled like geraniums and lasagna—the old Italian restaurant on the ground floor was already prepping for the lunch crowd. My sweatpants were soaked, my hair was dripping, one of my slippers was floating away, but lights were starting to switch on all over the neighborhood. Oyster-colored trench coats and black umbrellas were beginning to make their way down Second Avenue. Here were people and puddles and pigeons and trees and taxis, and I got to experience every deliciously drenched inch of it.

I have cancer but I also have windy summer mornings in the rain and an active sense of awe at all that I can still touch and taste and see and hear and breathe in at any given moment. I have the crystal-clear understanding that recovery is worth only as much as the life you're recovering.

Lila Keary is a frequent O contributor.

Keep Your Spirits High

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