Oh, hello Angel of death

No, I didn’t call you

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I’m not ready to go yet, but I swear there are days I turn around and I see the her walking toward me with chocolate. She’s enticing. Not like the cold angel of death. You can’t escape her.

Sometimes I think I may call out for her, In dark bleak painful moments of despair. And she comes. When I act surprised to see her she tells me I wanted her with me.

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This is what you want… This is what you want…no, it can’t be?
It can’t be…

Fallen

Some days I pick a song of the day and just listen to it over and over again. Perhaps it’s not the healthiest coping skill but whatever…it’s better than some I’ve had in the past, believe me. I sometimes find it so ironic (the most ironic!) that my whole life was taken from me the moment I was ready to give it up- and so many days I would do anything have it back. No one can teach you that lesson…it has to literally slap you to the floor.

We are fallen…
Tell everybody
We’re just gonna ride it out…
(There really isn’t another option. No one can tell you that either…)

Good Friday

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There is nothing “good” about Fridays… My grandma died on “good” Friday four years ago. My husband’s mother died on “good” Friday 1990. My evil step-father was an abusive fucking asshole, but sometimes when we had money, he would take us to the gross awful Waffle House on Friday after he scared the shit out of us watching scary vampire movies (Sammy Terry).

I hate Fridays.

And didn’t the so called Christians murder Jesus on Friday? What makes that such a “good” day?

Shheeessshhhh… We have a pretty fucked up definition of “good”….

I hate Fridays. I hate “good” Friday- can this day just be over already? I bet that’s what Jesus was thinking too -when he was nailed to the cross…like hurry up, in three days I’m gonna raise from the dead. And then! Oh! Just wait! People are gonna remember me forever! By eating ham! (Which, I also hate! Gross) and hunting for eggs and eating chocolate bunnies! Awesome Jesus! We got that right! You’re welcome!

Sometimes it’s like we don’t even try! Oh! We will also wear pastel colors to church!

Go hunt some eggs in the grass and eat this chocolate rabbit! Jesus is alive AFTER we nailed him to the cross! Amazing! Let us celebrate this miracle…with baked pig and chocolate shaped like rabbits.

The nights can be long when you’re being chased by busses

My friend is quite ill. Just this week she was going in for a consultation for brain radiation for her brain tumors, which once stable, have now rapidly begun to grow. She is my age, with two teenage children, fighting cancer for the second time. Fighting to live to see her children grow to adults. She is a beautiful delightful woman; one of those people who listens carefully. She is real and truly kind. She is smart and brave. She has her moments when she wants to give up but she is nearly always positive, and she seems to have this part of her that believes with everything that it is possible she will live; despite what the docs say. And I believe her, more than I believe the oncologists.

There are times she will message me late late at night, in a panic, looking for words of comfort. These are the moments it hits, the panic, the pain, the fear; when you are awake in the silent darkness of the night, and you feel the panic swelling in your chest and throat like a balloon. Those are the nights you know you won’t make it. And you long for comfort.

What to say…I’ve confronted the issue of what to say a millions times, as I’m sure people have when they speak to me. Of course there are millions if articles online that talk about what to say. “we’ll get you through this”. Is a good answer. And also what not to say, “my mom, best friend, dad’s ex wife died from that”. (Bad bad thing to say). I’ve confronted the problem of what to say more than ever before, simply because I now know so many people living with cancer. Having cancer myself has made it harder, not easier, to know what to say–because I’m acutely aware of both the importance of reaching out to folks and the impossibility of touching the lonely place where they find themselves.

My friend is living what I fear most. I identify with her, and yet I am gratefully aware that I am not in the same situation she is. I am angry that she is not in the situation I am. That there really are no more treatment options available or her at this time, and she is still willing to do anything to live. All I could do was acknowledge the ways in which we are on the same path and be honest about the ways in which we are not, at least not right now: her children watch her go through chemo again and again; she continues to suffer the side effects over and over again; she must radically and painfully recalibrate the terms of her hard-won hope.

When I was first diagnosed, several people offered comfort with variations of the phrase, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.” Kindness motivates these words. They are driven by the desire to tell the cancer patient that she is not alone, that her condition is a universally human one: we are all mortal. Yet, it is the very glibness of the cliche that underlines just how abstract mortality is to the speaker. He does not truly believe that it will happen, only that it could; otherwise, the phrase would be unbearable to utter.

There is a difference between knowing that you could get hit by a bus and waking up to the knowledge that you have already been hit by a bus, that you didn’t die right away, but that your injuries will most likely kill you soon. We all know that we will die, but those of us with life-threatening chronic conditions live that knowledge in a different way. When well-meaning friends deny that difference, it only heightens for the cancer patient how lonely it is to be sucking on the bus’s tailpipe rather than glancing idly at its distant headlights.

I do not forget, however, I try not to get stuck and live the unrelenting knowledge of my own creeping mortality. Some days I am successful, some days that is not so easy. But I know as the texts and emails from my friend grow shorter and shorter that she feels alone and distant, playing a game of frogger with cancer busses each day, terrified of being splattered, And so, all I can say to my friend (and all I would want you to say to me) is: wherever this new therapy takes you, I’ll follow as near as I can, and I’ll be waving into the abyss that divides us.

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Into the ocean

Sometimes I feel like I’m floating in the ocean a mile from the shore. I can see people on the beach and sometimes I can even hear them. They are laughing and playing and lounging without a care in the world. But I can never step foot on that beach again.

Sometimes, when I get good news, or feel well, the waves bring me closer to shore. It is during these times, my feet can touch the bottom of the ocean and I feel the warm sand.  I find it much easier to live when I’m closer to the shore.  I don’t feel alone. There are times when people venture out toward me. I can talk to them and even splash in the shallow water together. I convince myself that I am a part of their world. But suddenly, at a moment’s notice, the waves pull me back, deep into the cold dark ocean. It’s okay. I can swim. But there is loss. I miss the camaraderie. I’m outside, once again… looking in. Looking in at a world I can never be a part of again. I grieve as the world gets smaller and smaller right in front of me.  I can see them on the beach..playing, dancing…eating…laughing…without a care in the world.

This life is very much different than my former life, but it is very real. I am always wet. My muscles and limbs can never find rest.  And it seems like no one understands. I know that no one certainly wants to come out and join me. As the deafening sound of the ocean crashes upon my ears, drowning out life on that shore.

And I try to wait it out as I tread water out here in the vast ocean. Hold my head above the water.  Hoping for good news once again.

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