hello world, i’m still here.
There are inconsistencies in the stories I have started to spin about me. Often I lie. I explain away the absence of my hair – as the heat being too oppressive for any other length. I’ve shorn the sides – so it looks like a deliberate hairstyle. My father summed it up as, “punk” – but it works and people believe me. I attribute the chemotherapy burns on my right arm to a birthmark and I fudge the truth about my unemployment this past year with the very vague, “I’ve been freelancing.”
But sometimes I am candid – and I tell whoever asks about the madness that made up these past months. Some have met my pronouncement with obvious relief – that this didn’t happen to them. One even reached over me to superstitiously “touch wood” and ensure that her health remains intact. And I am amused. She couldn’t quietly thank the gods in her head? Seriously? I am sitting right here.
Usually though, it is pity. The pity I can stomach. If I am being honest, I even appreciate the pity on some deranged level – because for all my efforts to move past this, I do feel sorry for myself and if I ponder about what has happened and everything I’ve lost for too long – all my calm unravels. So I try to avoid this.
It is strange – this post-treatment life. My eyebrows and eyelashes have returned – this has helped me return to normalcy in a way that the last day of treatment failed to. I haven’t been blogging – because what is there to say, really? That today I woke up and I worried that the cancer had recurred? That last night, I struggled to fall asleep as I laid there contemplating the reality of my life expectancy and the meagre capabilities of my insurance plan. It is the same worry – every single day. I worry about my death and I worry about my life.
It is unbearable.
I joined a cancer-support group and there I met a man with stage 4 melanoma and his calm in the face of this death sentence moved me. I drove him to the support group and on the drive over, we would talk. He about his fear of leaving behind his two little girls without a father and me about my anger at being robbed of my youth. But he was lovely and he was optimistic. He didn’t want to get bogged down in the statistics that predicted his survival. “I’m alive today and I’ll probably be alive tomorrow,” was his maxim.
He died last week.
And yet – it isn’t that hard.
Z made delicious crab curry on Sunday and we sat around watching Bollywood video clips. My father bought me a beautiful rosewood rocking chair to sit and read in. In this way my days are – dare I say it? – good.
Money is a little tight so I’ve started looking for a full-time job and the tedious task of cover letters is proving far more painful than chemotherapy – but I got to keep moving forward, because really what else can I do?