Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving

It’s a fine line between informative and narcissist, as it is between observant and redundant. Straddling that line is tricky business especially when your memory is shot. None the less, here I am, blogging again.

I was driving up to Vermont on Thanksgiving morning enjoying the scenery, and the autonomy of driving myself and my dozing boys to the place of our choice in Sparky, our safe and comfy new car. I was feeling really grateful, and powerful for getting us packed and out and on our way. I used to be the passenger and now I’m the driver. I don’t know what the heck we packed, but we all had socks and underwear and really, everything else is optional, right? I had my iPod loaded with occasion appropriate music, Alice’s Restaurant and Pete Seeger’s This Land is Your Land. I was writing blog posts in my head about my gratitude and they were poignant and elegant, uplifting and you’ll have to take my word on that as those words are long gone. My brain is still a sketchy thing, it doesn’t retain information for long. J is always asking if I remember this or that and I don’t... I really don’t, even though it was something we did or talked about only weeks or months ago. This unsettles him, so now I pretend -- I know, honey, that was so funny, I could never forget that.

It’s so much easier to be positive and optimistic when you’re feeling better, which is a good feeling, but maybe a trap. There’s a woman named Laurie Cordeiro from Bristol, RI who was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer 2-3 years ago. I don’t know her but I know several people who do {or sadly, did}, and so our common cancer and those six degrees of separation make her seem real {as of course she is} and personal to me. She went through the same treatment as I did at the same age and after her year in hell, she had a year or so of triumph and optimism and took a job at Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation, helping other patients and families and then her cancer returned and I got an email in tribute to her yesterday speaking of her death a few days ago. It’s hard not to wonder how many green smoothies she drank and how often she exercised. She makes all those statistics turn flashing neon, the statistics I’m trying so hard to stay away from.

Her death makes me realize that you never get out of Cancertown because while you were there, you’ve met so many, heard so many stories, and our outcomes will all be different. The lovely Kim I met at radiation, lost her husband and soul-mate a few weeks ago to Multiple Myeloma and there was nobody more optimistic than they were, he was barely 40. Once you visit Cancertown you experience more death than you’ve ever known, even if it’s not your own, it affects you surely. You lose your innocence in so many ways. You have more joy but it comes with corresponding sadness. You have to live every day like it’s your last and plan for the future at the same time. Reconcile that dichotomy. I suppose that’s what we all should aim for our whole lives, but cancer makes it imperative. Little boy has been telling me all weekend how grateful he is for me and we’ve been having such a nice time together and I can’t imagine how he would react if given the bad news I can’t speak or write and try not to think about. He’d look at me with those great big beautiful eyes and say “but what would I do without you? who would take care of me? who would understand me?” It’s unfathomable to me, unthinkable, it’s an experience I could not bear, but we don’t get a choice, do we? I don't like that... I like to have a choice, we get used to excessive choices in our lives, but when it comes down to it, we don't have a choice at all... it's almost a foreign concept... I guess we deceive ourselves with all these small choices. Some children lose their parents, they do, they really do. Oh please, oh please, oh please, let that not happen to mine. If I didn’t have kids, I really think I could be graceful and philosophical about dying young. I wouldn’t like it, but I would go quietly. But I have kids, kid’s that without a shadow of a doubt count on me more than anyone else and who are loved so purely and without reservation in a way that could not be compensated for by any one any where and so leaving is just not an option. Just not an option!

How does one incorporate all this knowledge and foreshadowing into a happy life? I don’t know, but you do, you have to, somehow. You have to learn how to live without thinking I suppose, just forge ahead with blinders on and leafy greens in the fridge.

We're leaving Vermont later this afternoon, have had a lovely time, but I'm resentful for the undercurrent of reality and loss that has followed me here. Was feeling almost carefree last week, so aiming for that again, footloose and fancy free and the stamina to drive home. Grateful and thankful as we’re zipping through the green mountains.

5 comments:

  1. unfathomable, 2 say the least! ...glad ur back <3

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  2. "poignant and elegant, uplifting" <--nailed it!

    i was talking about this topic with a friend today--about another friend with a profoundly retarded (sorry, i'm sure that is the absolute wrong term) child, and how she must feel like she is never, ever allowed to die. and then--kind of dumbly, breathlessly--realizing: EVEN SHE COULD DIE.

    what a crapshoot! you write about it so beautifully. i am glad everything is OK for now, and that are back at b... ("b" is all i need to type into my bar to arrive here, because i peek in so often)

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    Replies
    1. ha-ha, like "h" for me... huffington post.

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