Monday, September 03, 2007

The World As it Should Be

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday. It sounds good - small tumor and they caught it early. Still. I don't think I need to say how much this grips me. After watching Crazy Sexy Cancer on Wednesday and reliving all the emotions and memories, now this brings it back even stronger because it's personal. My heart goes out to her so much. Even though there is not a doubt in my mind that she will be "cured" (...no one really uses the C word in reference to cancer because, well, you're never *really* cured, it's always lurking there the possibility of recurrence or metastasis), I know what she is going through. I know how completely overwhelming and impossible it seems that this is happening, that this is your life, that you will make it through this, that you will feel joyful or relaxed or carefree again. Ever. (You do, eventually. Eventually you get lost in work again, cuss at drivers who cut you off, feel frustration about the size of your ass, and stop seeing unfolded laundry as a sign that living itself is just too impossible. This too shall pass. It really shall. As unlikely as it seems.) I remember feeling the intense need to DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. NOW. Oh my god, just fix it. And at the same time, the feeling of total helplessness, because there's nothing to do but wait. Wait and see. For me, the waiting and wondering was almost harder than going through the treatment... almost. Because you don't know what will happen. Yeah, they say it's a small tumor and they caught it early, but what if they cut you open and the cancer is EVERYWHERE? What if you have complications? What if you don't wake up? What if you DO? Then what? Then there's a gaping wound in your neck and you feel like if you lean your head back it might fall right off, or if you sneeze all your insides will come exploding out, and eventually there will be a huge scar on your neck and that will never go away, and now you don't have a thyroid and maybe the cancer will come back anyway maybe it will come in the night and steal you away and in spite of all your best efforts and all the vegetables you have eaten and all the healing you have done and all the moments you have lived as though you are not a sick person you are a sick person... ? Yes, eventually WHATIF? stops becoming your All Consuming Entire Existence and you stop living with the clarity of a Mortal Person because, quite simply, it is too exhausting. Sometimes you have to just sit on the couch and eat candy bars from the vending machine and watch bad re-runs on TV, even if it might be your last day on earth, because you just can't live on the precipice of life all the time. But even once you do move on, there will always be the Reliving of it. Talking with my aunt, I experience all the fear and emotion and pain again, just as powerfully as the first time, it seems.

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Just to show that life does move on and you do eventually get to do things you love again and not be a Sick Person, I will tell you that Adam and I went to Harper's Ferry on the border of WVA and MD yesterday to walk around and go hiking. I wanted to hike farther, but the foot was pissed, so we hiked to the overlook and back and called it good. The hike goes over an old bridge across the river and up the hill on the other side to a rock outcropping where you can look down on the town of Harper's Ferry and get a good view of MD/VA in the distance.

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Adam is leaving next weekend to spend 10 days in Kansas with his family. That's TEN of the mere THIRTY he has left here in DC before he moves to Hawaii. Ten days to test out being alone. Because come October? He will be gone. I didn't think I cared. Truthfully, I thought, ok, he's going. Probably we are not meant to be together (if we were, wouldn't we [I] *know* it by now?) and maybe his leaving will be good for me, maybe it will be a catalyst for new and exciting things to come into my life. Maybe it will be like the End of an Era and I will be able to move on to a healthier, happier, more fulfilled chapter in my life.

But.

The closer it gets to that time, the more I realize that I do care. I care a lot. In fact...

I'm dying inside.

I feel a little catch in my throat when I ask him how many kids he wants to have and he makes his arms into a big circle and says, I think I can get my arms around maybe 4 or 5 of them... or he washes my dishes while I'm in the shower, not because he should, and not even to do something nice for me, but just because that's the way he is... or when he tells me that walking beside me through cancer, especially holding my hand in the hospital after surgery, he felt like his soul was fused to mine... and when I ask him if he still likes me even though I'm not as skinny as I used to be and he says, you don't even know what you're talking about... but do you still love me? and I already know the answer is he would love me still no matter what.

My Person is leaving me. What does this mean?

I don't know. I don't know.

And I'm eating my heart out.

I roll the window down
And then begin to breathe in
The darkest country road
And the strong scent of evergreen
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home

Then looking upwards
I strain my eyes
And try to tell the difference
Between shooting stars and satellites
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home

"Do they collide?"
I ask and you smile
With my feet on the dash
The world doesn't matter

(Death Cab for Cutie)

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That's all I have for now. I want to tie this post up in a neat little insightful ribbon, but I can't. This post is messy and complicated, just like life, and sometimes you can't figure it out and you can't make it better and it's not ok. You just have to breathe and put one foot in front of the other and hit the publish button and trust that everything is as it should be.

"Do they collide?"
I ask and you smile
With my feet on the dash
The world doesn't matter

4 comments:

Spirophita said...

Hang in there. :) Maybe you should say it, just like you do here, to him. Sometimes love isn't about a clear "yes" or "no." Sometimes it's about friendship, about believing in another person's possibilities, about that person being a part of you. Sometimes only when there is a chance of losing do we really realize how important another person can be to us.

maxie's pad said...

I cried throughout this post. The connecting tears. I know how it feels to be afraid that your head is going to fall off if you lift it off the pillow. I know about love and loss and saying goodbye. I know about volumtarily swallowing radiation. I know what it feels like to be told you had cancer.
Dear Michelle, your words are eloquent and soulful. Thankyou for touching me.
thyca sister,
maxine

"Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

move to Hawaii, silly.

Shop said...

and the wonderful ending to the song...


when you feel embarrassed then i'll be your pride
when you need directions then i'll be the guide
for all time.
for all time

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