Yesterday was a heavy one as days go of late. In the morning was the CSC support group, where we talked of the death of a fellow member two weeks ago. Jody. It was hard to say her name, hard now to even type it; she was in her late 30s with small children and fought pancreatic cancer for two years before it had the final word the way pancreatic cancer usually does.
Then in the evening the annual solstice party held by old friends in north Berkeley where attendees imbibe, sing carols and write down something they wish to let go of with the passing of the old year before throwing the paper on which it’s written into the fire. And in between I saw my oncologist for the now-monthly checkup, hoping that once again there would be no news which in this case is the best news of all. Plenty to ponder all through the day, plenty of feelings to zap me when I wasn’t looking and when I was too. No wonder I feel worn down to the proverbial nub today.
The checkup proved no big deal fortunately, the usual long wait followed by an unusually short visit. Five minutes I think, which was just the right time span for no news: the bump hasn’t grown a bit in the three months since detected, labs still look great, bye-bye and see you next month. After January it’s a PET scan for me about which he commented, low enough so only I could hear, that he hoped he wasn’t jinxing me by saying he mostly thought it would show nothing. Me, I’m thinking that maybe if he’s right we can go back to seeing each other every three months. That would be splendid. Having not-so-good news to share with you, I’ve decided, is highly overrated.
The oncologist’s pronouncement was a relief of course, though to me a small one because I’d been pretty sure going in it would be no big deal. Didn’t bother to let anyone know I was going at all apart from a brief mention during the support group – another checkup, ho-hum – and didn’t myself think much about it until when after a half-hour in the waiting room I noticed I was growing irritable in the way I do when tensing up.
Didn’t say anything at the party later either: why bring conversation of illness, even if it’s really about recovery, to what is already the darkest night of the year? So while sitting on the stairs in my friends’ house, looking down into the living room at the people singing by the warm light of the fire and taking in the beauty of their voices raised together in the old familiar songs, if I did tear up thinking of how fortunate I was to be right there at the moment – to in fact still be here at all – I said nothing about that too and wiped my eyes before anyone could notice.
Because what I was thinking about just as much was how things might be that evening in Jody’s house. Not everyone gets to still be here. The only consolation is in remembering that, I remember her. And that’s probably the best thing I can do.
(Republished from my personal Facebook account)