Clarity, or maybe just delusion

"Lust…is cool.  Yeah, it's really cool…but love and nurturing — are better." — Dr. Simmons (the onc)

An odd preface, I know.  It's a lovely late summer day, breezy as usual, with birds chirping and Coast Guard helicopters punctuating children's screams.  This neighborhood is all kids!  The Hubby's diving in Monterey today and Pt. Lobos tomorrow with his dive buddy RM (stands for Running Man), our previous next door neighbor.  I used to be fairly good friends with RM's girlfriend (partner or whatever but "not wife") until about three months ago when I'd had enough of her various and sundry manipulations and withdrew from almost all activity connected with her.  Alas, I have to be civil as her significant other is Hubby's friend and dive partner and relations must be maintained.  I begged off this trip and Hub knows better than to try to defend her.  He's already been in trouble for succumbing to her guiles—I don't think he wants to go another round with me on this.  I remind him that one of the rules I was told when this cancer thing struck was, when you have a terminal illness, you no longer have to put up with any shit—you don't have to do all those horrid, obligatory things, make nice with toxic people, etc.  So I'm courteously distant.  She's probably charming him to death with her good looks and endless babble.  She's like a character in a novel, maybe House of Mirth?  Same issues, to be sure.  Lucky for her, RM is sufficiently stumped to tolerate her last three years of self-chosen unemployment.  Anyway, that's another post.
It's not often I have the time to sit in the backyard and do what terminally ill people are wont to do, which is reflect on their lives.  (Speaking for myself, I guess, as perhaps that's not universally true.)  All sorts of crazy memories wash in at the strangest moments—things which undoubtedly fill journals packed in the garage somewhere.  I should find those and read them before I pass.  It was a short period of my life though, high school and college, and I don't mention too many family events.  I took family life very much for granted and wasn't too observant or interested.
It's sometimes difficult to write about cancer.  There's a part of me that wants to be personal and emotional and there's the part prevented by a public audience from speaking with too much honesty.  I really don't talk about my illness much anymore.  It stresses people out, makes their eyes glaze over.  I don't discuss the really strange self-care strategies I've resorted to because of this illness.  The Hubby made a hilarious cartoon about how I have a bathroom emergency whenever we're in public.  But really, it would suck if I were somewhere inconvenient, like the countryside or touring an ancient ruin in a foreign/third-world country.  Then reality hits and I recall how lucky I am that I still have a modicum of control over those systems.  Someone I know does not and I could be headed there soon.
I'm not being pessimistic.  If anything I'm complacent, due to the extended good health Tarceva has allowed me.  I need to wake up, realize I'm on borrowed time, and act like it.  People make plans all around me, forgetting that I may need treatment in a week or a month, that I may not be well at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  They forget I can't wander around all day, without rest and shelter from exposure.  The hardest thing is trying to understand what it's like to have numbered days.  I couldn't imagine death or fear or incapacity and had lost grip of following my dreams until my diagnosis.  So I can't expect anyone, not even my husband, to understand what it's like.  There's a deep sorrow that can't be explained.  For me it's a sorrow for all the things I won't get to do, and all the things I don't have the energy to do now.  There's a clarity, true—the kind I had a bit of when I was very young—the kind that values hedonism and encourages leaps of faith, that revels in the moment, that thrives without material indulgence.  That sort of clarity requires energy and impulsiveness, neither of which I have, so yeah, it's frustrating.  I no longer lament the missteps of youth which prevented me from being a financial success in mid-life.  On the contrary I'm thrilled to have engaged in so many amazing adventures, even if they're amazing only in my own mind ๐Ÿ˜‰  I wish I'd kept it up and not succumbed to the mediocrity that chasing money reduces one to.
As always, I'm not ready to go.  Neither is anyone I know battling this wicked thing.  Sadness at loose ends and unfulfilled hopes.  I guess I'm not much of the type of person that rallies for a cure and all that.  I wish I were, and maybe I would be if I weren't the ill one.  My rallying is with the universe, to show us the way to healing and a better life, and to a cure as soon as possible.  So get with it, Universe.  

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5 thoughts on “Clarity, or maybe just delusion

  1. My Dad dealt with the knowledge that his time was limited by reaching out and doing everything he could to be prepared. He made sure Mom was taken care of. He started writing sort of a memoir. I think he did not want to be forgotten.My Mom was the opposite. She withdrew. She kept fighting the illness mostly out of a sense of obligation to keep going at whatever cost, but she didn't really want to be here any more. She was just afraid of the alternative.I don't know how I will be when it is my time. I would like to be more like my Dad, but I know that I have more of my Mom in me than I would like to admit. I tend to cocoon when times are hard. If only we could attain and retain that clarity without the hardship that usually comes hand-in-hand with it. Even now, I have already lost some of the perspective that I had just a few months ago.

  2. Are you watching "The Big C" on Showtime with Laura Linney? It's brilliant. Tell that f-ing Universe to hurry up. I will shout a bit at him/her as well!

  3. It's peculiar but I see my parents following a similar pattern as yours did. My Dad's hell bent on getting his memoirs finished and possibly published by the end of the year and although I want to help him, it's slow going for me. I think my Mom holds on for the sake of trying to help everyone as much as she can, though she isn't well and has admitted she's tired and doesn't want to go on. I don't think she knows how to do anything but survive. They've been stoic all their lives, having lived through the war and fled the Marcos dictatorship. So I try to be stoic, especially as I wonder who will care for them and my unwell brother when I'm gone…as my well-to-do but self-centered sister just can't be bothered. Oh, the drama!

  4. I just watched The Big C for the first time tonight. I hope I can record the pilot. I only have Showtime for a promotional period so I may have to wait to finish the series. Amazing casting. Unlike "Kathy", I was very open with my diagnosis in the beginning, but am more reticent about it these days. I've never been to a support group meeting—maybe now's the time to start. I need to stop being such a control freak, be assertive and delegate, and learn to let go…of stuff and perfectionistic habits.

  5. You have to see the pilot, last week was only the second episode, so I'm thinking it's still being repeated on Showtime, hopefully before your promotional period runs out. You might even be able to see it on their website during the promo period. The casting and writing is brilliant. And I can't help but thinking that all of us need to stop taking care of other people's feelings and start feeling our own more. Plus I love that it's set in Minnesota…where people can be a little too closed with their feelings…and where I was born and raised. ๐Ÿ˜›
    If you're ever up for that glass of wine and meeting in person, would love it…and I have "The Big C" recorded if you can't get your hands on the upcoming episodes.

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