Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)
It is 12:56. And I am waiting to find out the results of my latest biopsy. This is such a familiar feeling. Unfortunately. What is it like out to find out if your future will be scrambled? At this point, I have had so many biopsies that haven’t been actual cancer (though a number have yielded results dangerous enough to require surgery and I am permanently in a high risk zone) that I have developed certain coping skills that get me through the waiting periods and the painful tests without too much emotional scarring. I have cultivated a certain pleasant blankness that includes focusing on the moment I’m living in and doing whatever little task I have at hand, and cutting myself off from making long range plans. It is only sometimes, at unexpected moments, when the darkness completely eclipses the light and I start to sob and shake so hard that I don’t even know what I’m afraid of—is it the helplessness? is it the pain? Is it death? Or is it being tortured to death? I sob and my poor husband stands by, thinking he’s not being helpful when really, he is. By not running away, by witnessing my sadness, he most definitely is. And then, I stop, and we watch Downton Abbey, and try to figure out if Lady Mary is enigmatic or just kind of a bitch.
No biopsy will ever be as bad as the first one—until I get the one, which I no doubt will, which will let me know that the game is up and cancer is here. The first biopsy was the worst because my children were young. I could not get over the terror that I was about to betray them by dying. I felt myself not to be an individual so much as a figurehead. I was Mother. And I felt that I could not let them be un-Mothered. They needed to trust that I would be, at very least, alive. I remember so clearly feeling as if I were behind glass, watching the rest of the world go through its busy motions. Sounds felt muffled. Even my beloved husband could not reach me. Other people were alive and I was somewhere between alive and dead, in a very special zone that normal people didn’t belong to and should never see.
It is 2:00 now. The results are supposed to be here, I’m supposed to get a call. I’ve been calm. I’ve been busy. I made phone calls and emails. But now, the sky feels heavy, as if it’s crushing down on me with extra gravity. Ring, phone. Just tell me. Just tell me what my future is going to be. I’ve waited long enough. Just tell me now.
Writing Prompt: How have you learned to cope with potentially scary news?
Back in like Ancient France or whatever they weren’t beeyotching about wheat, oh no, they were like, oh thank you Goddess Ceres, here, we’ll make an awesome picture of you with gold leaf in it just to say how awesome le baguettes and la croissants and je ne sais quais else that’s made out of wheat is. But here in America? Non. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia, Public Domain).
You know what’s better than a piece of freshly-buttered sourdough toast? A piece of freshly buttered sourdough toast with a Belgian waffle and an everything bagel on it, that’s what. But now two (2) doctors have nagged me sufficiently to throw up my hands and say ALL RIGHT, I will TRY your stupid “GLUTEN FREE” diet even though I had an endoscopy and it did NOT show that I had celiac disease and I don’t even believe in gluten free anything and I hate the idea of being that “special” person who has to have that “special” thing at the restaurant and ask how everything is prepared. I know, I know, that’s just a form of snobbery on my part. Why shouldn’t I care what I eat? Food is life’s fuel. And, honestly, I generally eat pretty well. Much of that is the husband’s doing. He grows a fabulous garden each year and it’s always a race to stuff in as much produce into each meal as possible. He also has made me much more willing to give up on the super-cheap deals on chicken and beef in favor of the painfully expensive organic cuts where each cow has its horns hand-rubbed each evening and each chicken is knitted a pair of leg warmers so it doesn’t get cold as it roams freely over the acres and acres of Happydale Farm. Yeah yeah, I love the planet. But now I’m going to have to hunker down and do the walk of shame in Trader Joe’s and look at that package of oatmeal to see if it’s Gluten Free. Why shouldn’t oatmeal be gluten free? I guess some places, wheat hangs around the oat schoolyard and acts as a bad influence on the virtuous oat students, contaminating their virtue. So you have to make sure that they are kept away from each other. Sigh. There’s so much I have to learn. Another thing I’m confused about is that one of my doctors wants me to give up dairy and the other wants me to give up sugar. I guess it makes sense to give up sugar–even more than wheat, really. But does that mean maple syrup and honey, too? And isn’t something like organic Greek yogurt actually a very healthy food? Does anybody have any advice about how I can survive the next two heinous months?
Writing Prompt: Help a gal figure out how to go gluten free–I beg you.
My poor husband must submit to being the subject of truly terrible drawings of his unbelievably handsome countenance. Here is part of my penultimate journal entry of 2014.
So this is the sorry state of the latest journal of Ms. 135journals or so. Paint splatters from a painting on the other side of the paper. Not a very handsome likeness of Mr. 135journals. Conversation about drywall and counter mounted compost bins. An experiment with using gel medium as a transfer technique for a picture of a woodpecker that wasn’t entirely successful. But–despite the house construction, the health problems, the dented fender, the mess in my art room, I feel very lucky to have this year. I am so glad to have had time to learn about art, to read books, to talk to friends, to share a life with this beautiful creature whom I have loved since we were teens. I am proud of my wise children, and of the family I grew up with, and the one I married into. And of my family of friends.I I have had some grim times this year, but there hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t had a chance to learn something interesting and new in our great world of wonders. Even on the worst days, there is (are?) Kim Kardashian’s butt problems to amuse me. I haven’t lived up to all my hopes for myself. I haven’t been as good a friend as I wanted to be. I did not do enough to ease my friends’ sufferings, and I hope I do better next year. I did not drop XX number of pounds. I didn’t finish writing my novel. But oh how lucky I am to have had this difficult, beautiful, year. It was a like my messy journal, full of experiments, boring little everyday details, splashes of color, wrinkles, and nostalgia. It surprises me, as I wrote (illegibly) in the entry above, that we are “almost out of year!” I hope that you readers–and thank you so much for reading this very scattered and eclectic blog!–found some good in this year, and that next year will unlock a new treasure chest of wonders for you as well.
Writing Prompt: What surprised you this past year?