Three chemo cycles down, They are shitty. I have a small window of normalcy after a cycle and right before the next one. I take care of business, get snacks for Jane, wash clothes, and maybe wash a dish.
It always starts with nausea. I try to get a handle on it before it gets to the watery mouth stage. Then food starts tasting hideous. My bald head starts hot flashing. Joint pain ramps up to unbearable levels. Exhaustion hits hard.
The mental and emotional side effects follow the physical side effects. Depression, despair, hopelessness, and frustration kick in with a vengeance.
There is no managing it. There’s only gritting my teeth and gutting through it. I count down the days to the next cycle. I visualize pier fishing. I feel good in my dreams. Until the pain wakes me up in the night.
One more cycle. Five or six weeks of hell. I’m still lucky.
How can I have a crisis of faith when I don’t believe? What are the words that capture this free fall and freedom? If I don’t drill down into discrete issues, well, it breaks off into limitless voracity of the best way to go with a joyful transition.
Whether that is life, extraordinary life, life beyond death or nothing, I don’t know.
Very few experiences move me to the sublime. Tony Jones does. Father Nathan Monk does. Rodney does. Music is my goddess. Just as certain permutations of religion have adherents, as do I with music.
Sometimes, a song will strike me like a bolt of lightning. Southern gospel is great for that. There are tons of closeted people in gospel. Anyway, Depeche Mode was my epiphany today. “Personal Jesus”? My Southern Baptist upbringing says, they ain’t no Jesus but what the One says! Ok, then.
Double canasta was the game. The cards were so flimsy, we powdered them before every marathon. Sweet tea and cigarettes fueled our competition. At some point, mother and aunt fixed supper for all. Males occasionally subbed but they were placeholders for the female energy that ruled and they knew it. I learned unimaginable lessons at that card table.
You wanna know what’s sad? I’ll tell you what’s sad.
It’s sad knowing that your cosmic twin, thirty years younger and fifty pounds lighter, is
sitting in an apartment in a giant, never sleeping city
feeling just as alone and isolated as you are, but she
still has hope. She thinks she’s jaded, but she’s not. She thinks she’s weary, but
she doesn’t know yet of the soul-crushing exhaustion of chronic empty bank accounts and crummy lovers and shitty food
She has no idea what despair is, and that’s a good thing because her still pure soul would disappear with the realization that nobody cares. Not really.
Imma tell that girl, my cosmic twin, to make friends with her isolation because it’s gonna be there for good. Imma tell her that despair isn’t so bad when it’s a catalyst. Broken dreams pave the way to reality. Imma tell her to…
Shame. The running narrative has always begun with white-hot embarrassments of random memories.
The ice pick of shame starts tapping into hidden corners, chipping away at the carefully constructed brick walls around those things I cannot forget, nor reconcile.
It drives me to write, to rage, to sit inside the storm until it passes. My instinct no longer compels me to flight but to let it flow until the inevitable occurs – a blessed numbness of sleep.
By the light, I can see how to put up the walls again. All day, silent activity consumes my emotional energy.
Ah, but sunset comes slinking back and brings a terrible sadness with it. The horrible, weeping, random grief is not as often as in my younger days, but when it comes, it comes with layered complexity.
What I had thought was wisdom has turned out to be merely decades of experience in dodging that dreaded ice pick.