Quiet, Let's Whisper Sing to Each Other
So, my mother has cancer and I don't know what that means in the long arch. I think that the focus should be on her. But where does that leave me?
I don't know what happened when they told her.
I have begun reading In Gratitude by Jenny Diski, which I was interested in without remembering that this was a cancer diary. It was on another end of year list I needed to make my way through. The first chapter is an interesting recount of her being given the life-shortening diagnosis and her decision then to write the book. So, I wonder, what went through my mother's head? I wonder in a deeper way than I have ever allowed myself. Up to now it's all been surface explanations for the the things she did, but I've never really worried about the way she felt. Was she scared? Did her mind go blank? Did she feel, like Ms. Diski, that she was running through the paces of a script she couldn't escape? From here there were limitations to her choices?
Probably not. They still aren't completely sure about the extent of her sickness. She's taking medication, and she seems hopeful. She thinks what's been identified might be shrinking. Another CAT scan, another doctor's visit. She's been through a lot of doctor's visits lately. Probably more than I can remember as I was growing up. I guess a lot of that time was about me and my dad. If it feels like an overwhelming rush to me, I'm sure living it must feel so much stranger.
Then there's the point one must go back to: they don't really know how far things have progressed yet. There's still a chance that she might be sicker than they thought at first. That things may have spread. And that's what the CAT scans are suppose to tell her. Some day, very soon, maybe far too soon, a doctor will meet her in their office with the next batch of results and tell her how long she can expect to live. She's already decided that if it's spread the best that can be done is to try to make herself comfortable. Someday, I might be talking to a woman on large quantities of morphine, who isn't just trying to party.
She's likely the most interesting person I know, so I should take this time to find out more about her...but I am regularly 3 hours away and too selfish to use the phone. I'll have to start recording things on my visits. On the road I learned she played in sand dunes, and to think of her as a child, capable of freely playing, was a kind shock.
At home I find I can only bear to day drink, paint, and watch Phantom of the Opera. Or whatever other film I feel I should have seen. I suppose I am catching up on other stories I feel I should have experienced to supplement a life-time of ignoring the stories most closely related to my own.
I've also discovered today that it seems I no longer want to be touched. For a while I craved it and now the thought of being touched by the people I desired it from the most disgusts me. I'm repulsed.
I miss the moments when things seemed really good.
They are so hard to hold onto.
Yet on my own, it's all I see. It's all I can remember of all the comedies I love. Where two people seem so carefully crafted to fit together, that it would be impossible for any other approach to be taken. One must simply find the one that clearly compliments them. The one they belong with because it was scripted as so. Someone of equal generosity, humor, intelligence and beauty. Someone with a temperament that kindly muffles the impact of all the other person's flaws. Surely finding such perfection shouldn't be so hard? I feel like in moments I have held it. For a second; before among the minutes of the day I found the minutia that would unravel the dream. I have.
If I could just collect those moments. If I could just live in that history. And reject what's coming.
"Just promise me if you get lost, we get lost together."