Waiting for life’s next chapter can be exciting, whether you’ve been laying groundwork with a tingle of anticipation or letting things fall into place as they will, like leaves in autumn. That sort of waiting and often the Birthday or Christmas kind, holds a sweetness for me or an umami thrill that has glided me over bits of the road that have shaken my chassis and blurred the scenery for a bit. Sometimes the very idea that the future isn’t written in stone has helped me over times when I’ve been broken on rough road and can’t see much of anything.
I’ve had an immense capacity for waiting, even in dark moments. But darkness intensifies what seems like patience in me, turning it into a grotesque version of anticipation that irritates and provokes like fingernails on a chalkboard, and hurts like lost love.
When the waiting is very dark I’ve sometimes written about it here. Often my capacity for patience and ability to see that light can follow dark has made it seem that I’m saying something different than I am. My poetry especially often says things to people that I hadn’t intended. I’m working on accepting that and on getting better at saying whatever it is I think I want to get out in my writing. Today I’m going to try for bluntness.
Before Thanksgiving, I needed to redo a mammogram. Soon after, I had to schedule a needle biopsy. The earliest date they could give me was December 28th. Waiting for that sort of thing through the time of year I take to heart and usually enjoy at least half of the time, made me feel like I was receding, like I didn’t belong. I took some solace in knitting simple pieces for family with soft yarn, and making cocoa butter/shea butter bars and basking for a while in hopes that the pieces would come out right and be welcome. Mostly my world grated on me. After my post referring to Lincoln, I found it hard to write anything and hard to escape.
The biopsy showed cancer. Monday I go to see a surgeon, knowing that early detection is a gift of sorts. I know this because I had an even earlier detection on the opposite side over twenty years ago. No chemo, no radiation. This time there’s talk of radiation, but I know from years of paying attention and reading and medical shows on TV, that I need to wait for the surgeon to get a look inside and see exactly what’s going on. I know about margins and things. I remember understanding the doctors when my mother went through ovarian cancer even when other family members needed clarification on certain points. I feel pretty confident about my outcome because of all the things I know already.
My N.P. was surprised I didn’t have questions. I won’t have answerable questions until I’m presented with real choices before or after the surgeon has a look. When I get to Monday’s appointment I will want to talk about anesthesia, because the local I had for that first biopsy so long ago wore off in the middle of the surgery. The idea of the smell of cautery in an operating room (which I hadn’t thought of) would have made me sick to my stomach before that. After it, not even the nurse’s rushing to stand behind me, massaging my temples and speaking to me softly as I cried, can soften the memory of the smell and the feel of it.
I hate waiting. I suppose I’ll seem patient while I do it for however long it takes to know that I’m done with treatment and things look good again. However I might look, I don’t anticipate feeling patient.
I have information. I have a good understanding of ‘doctor speak’. I’m immensely grateful for the healthcare republicans think I shouldn’t have if I can’t pay for it myself. I’m grateful for family and friends.
I try to be a grateful person, but I’m not good with hearing how strong I am. (And I’m so sorry now if I’ve pissed anyone off in the past by telling them that during their dark times.) Although I’m grateful for my strength, I’m pissed off that it doesn’t look or feel like what it is when I’m using it. Maybe I’m just pissed off period. I understand that people have gone through and will go through worse times than this one is for me. But whether I get my regular writing mojo back tomorrow or much later, I’m interested now in getting in touch with my inner pissed-off chick who’d rather scream about this, whether anyone wants to hear it or not.
I wrote a short poem on Words One Hundred about how some of Christmas Day went for me (a very nice time for the most part) even though the undercurrent bleeds through even when you’re having a good day. I’ve been trying to begin a post about how to make the cocoa butter moisturizing bars because I remembered to take a picture, but I don’t know when I’ll get that up.
I want to be an artist who throws color at the canvas and only cares that it’s right, not that it’s pretty. I want to write whatever the fuck I want, if only the words would come to me. I don’t want to write about the cancer, but if I think I need to, I will. It’s a part of life; it deserves ink. Mostly I just want to be free to be angry and not hear how positive thinking and glitter ponies will make the road easier. (‘Glitter pony’ being my euphemism for “there’s always light at the end of the tunnel” and “remember God never gives you more than you can handle”, etc.) I’ve got positive thinking covered. My friends know that.
My stuffed bunny is threadbare (yes I sleep with one — want to make something of it?) But if anyone tosses me a glitter pony (and isn’t too young to know better), they better be sure to duck so it won’t hurt when I toss it at their head. I’m thinking of retiring the bunny my daughter gave me so long ago and replacing it with a squooshy brown bear or another rabbit, brown and lifelike, to be soft and warm with me under the winter covers. I deserve that.
And one of those tiny key lime cheesecakes from the Magnolia Bakery that recently went up to seven dollars (that I could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.) I’m trying to talk myself out of getting only one or the other for this month’s splurge. Because I deserve that, too, despite water bills and taxes and everything else that doesn’t stop coming just because I’m having a hard time.
I’m grateful that we haven’t had much snow here this winter, the streets and sidewalks are clear, and I’m sure-footed as I make my rounds.
I told you I had positive thinking covered.
Now it’s time to roar before the quiet and the waiting allow too much of the dark in. Because there is dark, and I don’t think positive thinking means I should pretend I don’t feel it.