My illness has the benefit of pushing me further into the now. My mind drifts off to the “what ifs”, the “could be(s)”. The myriad of fears that lay possible in the path before like a giant chasm waiting to swallow me whole. I stop, toes dangling at the edge. For a moment let the wind brush my cheeks then retreat.
Now. Here. Today. In this moment I breathe.
But as my HS friend Emily wrote “with cancer there is no finish line. There is freedom from the active disease, but never from the threat it may one day return. So the tests and checkups stand as markers on a road that never ends.”
My last scan threw me into what my mom calls “wait and worry”. NEW showed up when I yearned for status quo. So now I need to be tested again in 3 months. Not a year as I hoped. The doc tried to assure me “this would be backwards, a unique progression for my disease”.
“But I am a study in the unique.” If it is odd and rare, unlikely, I have it. I laughed, “You are not comforting me.” He knew he wasn’t. But statistically at least one of these times I need to fall into the norm. Right?!!
And to boot my oncologist is leaving. This means starting over with a new doctor. Not my favorite thing to do. It’s like someone taking away your blankey, handing you another and insisting it’s the same. Perhaps in time it will be but not at first. Right now it does not bring comfort. It isn’t worn on the corners nor does it smell familiar and safe.
I think for everyone this translates differently. I have no children to bring me to the present. I have no partner to hold me in the dark. For me, it’s propelled full blown Wanderlust.
So when I got the most recent news I immediately took off for New York. I’ve wanted to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit. And I am blessed with a dear friend crazy enough to jump on board my messugahs.
Therefore, I have been completely reckless with my pocketbook. And irreverent in fuck it! I plan to live large even if it actually turns out to extend into my 80s. I refuse to spend less on my soul than I do on my medical bills. If only I could swing more time off I’d head to London for the Chanel Privé exhibit.
The thing is I am immensely fortunate. To have friends who have given me refuge, shade in the blinding glare of illness. I am the beneficiary of a legacy of love. I do not know how to begin to express my gratitude. Is there a gift for that?
So, I’ve decided to do a flyby to my 25th High School reunion. It is my year of yes after all and I’d been responding to my classmates “NO” far too frequently. This could be the last chance you get crossed my mind (the cliff’s edge).
I find recently I’ve become preoccupied with the illusion of intimacy. 25 years later I have closeness with people who have no knowledge of my life in the interim. Yet it is undeniable, unshakeable.
But I am not the same person. I am more vulnerable and intolerant of mental riffraff. I’m swimming with boxing gloves on.
It should be interesting. My closest HS friends won’t be there. But there are a few I’d like to see. A few who have been present to moments of my recent struggle I’d like to thank. A few who’ve made me laugh. And a few that’ve made me feel beautiful again. And one who sadly understands and has made me feel less alone (see above).
The moment I booked my flight trepidation set in. Going back has a way of drawing cancer nearer for me, like living in an ever shrinking box. The walls- past, future, what-if and could be growing closer.
I no longer live carefree. But I can feign composure and plan to play; fill my times with the sites and tastes I love, to live full blown.
These days mortality’s still close, the reaper’s hand upon my shoulder, a welcomed companion. I live differently now. There are days I linger at the edge longer than others just to feel the warmth of the breeze below. I’m not afraid of falling.
Next up on my agenda I get to be a plus one. The recruiter is receiving an award for her amazing skills. And again she offers me refuge. So I will be heading to the Bahamas where I will check swimming with the dolphins off my bucket list and have some much needed time with a soul mate- reciprocating over cocktails.