Ode to Joy

It’s hard not to be sidelined with the mounting signs.

I recently meet with someone in the cancer field, and as we talked about my 10-year-old diagnosis and how I’m feeling (which is great), she used the word “hopefully” when discussing how I’m “cured of cancer.”

I am in the midst of helping my mother create a family trust, and discussing things like “being incapacitated” at best and dead at worst.

I receive a heart-wrenching Facebook notice from a husband who is telling his friends that his wife, who is my age and has a son who is Hans age, is not responding to her treatment for her second round of breast cancer, and has been given less than an appealing outcome for her future.    He speaks of months.

The card catalog of experiences that make up my life tell me that she is not me.  That my mother is simply being prudent and smart about organizing her end of life, so that what my father worked so hard to make and she worked so hard to keep stays in the family, instead of going directly to the government.  That people get uncomfortable when taking about the future, and for whatever reason cannot help themselves but to qualify things with words that (perhaps unintentionally) deflate and terrorize.

So here in this moment, when I am starting to spin, I will write instead of words that will buoy.  Inflate.  Caress.  Boost.

My vision is that my lovely strong amazing mother will live her life as she has up to this point, riding her stationery bicycle and tending to her home, cheerfully showing up at my doorstep at any time of the day or night, until the day her heart decides to stop pumping and she slips like a red-hued leaf in autumn from the end of its branch and falls effortlessly, calmly, and dreamily to the ground.

That I will live out my life in the strong embrace of my family, in a long and varied swirling, twirling, exciting melange of people and smells and sights.

That Verna will shrug off what is currently consuming her body, like a snake slipping from its old skin, and emerge with health and vitality, knowing that what people tell you about your body and your life is an external discussion about an internal situation.

Because life – this life, our life, how life comes into being and changes over time – is a mystery.  No one knows what the future will bring.  And that, perhaps, is a gift of sorts.  We can guess all we want at what the future will bring, but is it not true that many times we stand surprised at what actually occurs.  That we never saw it coming, but it came all the same.



Filed under Beautiful things, Just something ...

3 responses to “Ode to Joy

  1. paula

    you pull a million little pieces into being with your writing. we are preparing for the end with John’s dad and this was beautiful timing for me today. thank you.
    hugs, p.

  2. Alexis

    thank you, sue, for this one.

  3. Lisa Greim

    I met my Kaiser gynecologist yesterday — my de facto cancer doc, since I’m not allowed to go outside the system, even for the UCH care team that still wanted to see me every six months (it took me five years to graduate from three-month recalls). She felt me up and ordered a mammo and told me not to bother with the Kaiser onco team, who would just look at me cross-eyed and wonder why a person with no signs of disease was bothering them. So I will send my UCH oncologist an email and let him know I’m still alive.

    Anyway, this doc was a woman about my age who took my family history and was amazed at Mom, who has no chronic conditions at 80. Heart disease? Nope. Diabetes? Nope. High cholesterol? Nope. All her first-degree female relatives had breast cancer, but not Mom. Eyes, bones, blood pressure, ability to do the Saturday New York Times crossword in ink, all fine. “Is she overweight?” A ha ha ha.

    She will bury us all.

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