Dear Sweatpants & Coffee Tribe,
It’s been a while, huh? We have some catching up to do.
I wasn’t going to write about cancer this time, because there is so much more going on in my life and your life and the world in general. That last one might be burning down around us but it’s all going to be fine. JUST FINE. *wild eyes* Anyway. Yeah. I was going to talk about other stuff.
But the thing is, it just won’t go away. I woke up this morning, logged onto social media, as I am wont to do whilst sipping my coffee, and saw all over my feed that someone had died. A friend of many friends. Cancer. I don’t even know what kind, but I could see by the hole she left that this was a loved person. You would have liked her, people said. I bet I would have, and now I won’t get to. That’s what cancer does – it takes away opportunities.
I did one of those question meme things last night. You know, one of those annoying, copy and paste, post your answers kind of deals. You were supposed to ask your partner a bunch of questions to see how well they know you. (Bob did very well, in case you were wondering. We would kick ASS at the Newlywed Game, except he doesn’t know how tall I am.) It was fun and made us think, but then there was this. “Do you think you could live without me?” I asked it lightly. His back was to me while he rinsed dishes in the sink. I felt a frisson of regret slip down my backbone. Because I know he’s had to think about it. Or rather, that he tries as hard as he can not to think about it. “I could,” he said. “But I don’t want to. I would be sad.” Another thing cancer does is ruin funny memes. It’s such a fucker.
I try not to fall down the well of sorrow too much, though. People are dying of all sorts of things. Aneurisms. Hunger. Car accidents. Terrorism. Being black or gay or [insert high-risk identity of choice]. We are all struggling valiantly in our separate-together life boats.
For me, this is a season of reclamation. The home stretch. I’m done having parts lopped off and having poison injected into my veins and my soft bits fried by lasers. Just a few more treatments to go, and these aren’t even the really gross ones that make your hair fall out and kill all your taste buds and make you have to spend all day on the potty. Targeted therapy. Minimal impact. Then, I’ll join the ranks of folks who hold their breath for the rest of their lives every time they go in for a scan. Or when they get a funky cough. Or when they have a headache. It’s a fun club. You get to compare lasting side effects and make really dark, hysterical jokes about existential fear. We also – I’m sorrynotsorry to tell you this, helpful advice-givers – spend a goodly amount of time making fun of “woo” cures and remedies people insist on sending us. We’re allowed. It’s in the handbook.
These days, my life is about coming back into myself. I signed up for a personal trainer, recently. The sweet young girl behind the counter asked me the standard “why have you decided to join this health club” question and I said, “This past year has been about things happening to my body that I didn’t get to choose. Now, I want to make it strong.” I did not say that I would also like my ass to be smaller and my arms to look like Michelle Obama’s because they’re personal trainers, not wizards. But still. She liked my answer. I did, too.