Going on three days’ worth horrible bone pain. Nothing attenuates it. Dr. is unsympathetic. I’m running a solid 9 on the pain scale and he suggests Tylenol in addition to the other meds I take. It does not work. He grumbles and gives me the mildest opioid there is.

I’m not a pill head; never have been. If I could have a couple of shots of Ruby Red, I’d probably feel better, but the thought of alcohol gives me waves of nausea.

I can’t find my ass with both hands anymore. It started November 4, when I got the call that there was a suspicious finding on my x ray. That day turned my world upside down.

CT scan followed the next few days, followed by a phone call that confirmed lung cancer.

The whirlwind of doctor visits, PET scans, MRIs, biopsies, and finally, a lobectomy of my upper left lobe. The tumor was huge, really. That was January 12. Pain still persists and shortness of breath is my best friend.

Next shock: I started chemo yesterday. Not because of mets, but to knock out any lingering microscopic cancer cells lurking in hidden tissue or organs The regimen is short but brutal. I get a triple dose of two drugs every three weeks. If I can handle it. I asked how long the side effects would last between doses and the answer was airy, but blunt. 4 to 5 days, but those few days would be hell on wheels. My hair is going to fall out soon. Nausea is already paying a visit, but I have good drugs for that when I remember to take them. I can look forward to mouth sores, more neuropathy, blood sugar swings, and weekly blood tests for white cell counts. Whee.

I can’t shoot a rifle anymore. The mediport excludes that. My left side has a pacemaker. I asked when I would get the port taken out and the nurse said, ‘never’. That hit hard. I will not be cured. What a kick in the ass. I have a small bit of gratitide for the port, though. My hands and arms are still bruised and tender from the needlepoint they performed for the lobectomy. Now all the blood draws can be done in my chest.

This next part is the most important.

My support system is amazing. I never expected the outpouring of care and love from the people I know even though I’ve not met most of them. Offers of rides, monetary gifts, food, phone calls and texts, you name it. My independent life has been humbled. I’m just now learning to accept with gratitude the help and hope so freely given without expectation. This is the essence of love. I want to hide my face and weep for the grief I feel, but then I am reminded of so many people lifting me up and gladly carrying me, and so I won’t give up. I will never give up.

I always thought if I ever had a disease like cancer, I would know it, feel it like an alien in my body.

It hasn’t been that way at all. The symptoms crept in one small twinge at a time, one extra cough at a time, one afternoon nap at a time.

One day, I was willing to bet I had a touch of COPD. I would have lost that bet the next day.

The medical machine crunk up slowly, idling for a scant week. Then that machine, that infernal machine, kicked into gear and started rolling toward an end I cannot see or fathom.

I’m not sick-yet. I’m not at the finality of the diagnosis-yet. But, I am paralyzed on this new road. It’s not familiar and it looks dark up ahead. The steering wheel is in a white-knuckle grip.

So, tomorrow, the machine picks up speed. Someone said, it’s like being handed a grenade with the pin already pulled.

bare trees against sky during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A therapist once told me that I thrive on becoming rather than being.  He was

right, but I didn’t understand at the time it is a double edged sword

The excitement of becoming is a drug that can chase one into madly searching for somewhere to land

Being. Ah, being. Just being. It sounds like stasis. Boring, Stuck.

At this age, I realize that stasis is equilibrium and that is a very good thing. Balance.

Not a teetering on the edge kind of balance, but a discrete place of action and calm.

Pity this wisdom comes so late in life, but the richness of nuance and meaning adds immeasurably to each precious day on this side of the dirt.

Experiences become a symphony of light and serenity

of satisfaction and grace notes of grief and booms of being one in this place

while memories race to claim a seat in reality, they add color and depth

to what is already at hand

I want to taste and feel and understand and stay still in the moment

It is a good thing, a very good thing, to be here.

scenic view of mountains during dawn
Photo by Stephan Seeber on Pexels.com

 

This morning, I arrived at the intersection of mortality and denial.  The past, present, and future sat at a cafe table, sipped lattes, and watched as my steps became hesitant.

The past delicately placed a five on the table.  “My money’s on knowledge.  She’s seen this one before and chose–well, if not wisely, then correctly.”

Present added a fiver. “I don’t know. Lately, she’s been just waiting and not doing. I’m going with what I see now.”

Future smirked and placed a ten under the cold candle. “You all know I have to cover both positions.”

I looked both ways and sighed. There must be a third choice I cannot yet see.  Frost may have gotten it wrong. I took out my notebook and started writing down the possibilities.

Wings sprouted from my shoulders and lifted me up, over the intersection, over the obstacles, away from the cafe. From above, I could see both roads.  I clutched my notebook to my chest and smiled. So, the writer’s way, then.

A passing waiter collected the money off the table and smiled at the trio staring openmouthed as I disappeared.

“It’s a push. Better luck next time.”

marsh

 

 

 

He tucked a cigarette behind his ear and stared at the blinding sand and the sad, blinding, dead-end strip of sand stared back

It knew it would win in the end

I watched his boot trace a silly amoeba, then dot a couple of eyes with the toe

and the sand stared back

There’s a silence in the country that pierces deep and dark and fills unsuspecting hearts with historical grief from hundreds of years of spilled blood and screams and ripped out hope

‘Stay here and suffer’ the silence begged. ‘Let it eat you alive, this soul stabbing pain’

He let the old rage come in and fill his body with pulsing red  He felt a high pitch of keening sorrow as it pushed aside the rage

it stabbed his lungs

He fell to the sand, the eternal sand

the wondrous grounding of soul came to quiet

He dipped a finger into the sand and tasted grit  tasted salt  tasted what was

what is  what will be

the beating of his heart remains connected to the sand

He felt dizzy and heard a drumbeat of the elders passing him a mantle

in the passing of a low rider

I sling words with feeling without skimming on the surface like a cockroach across a puddle.

I get drunk and cry with my pen instead of writing about my tears.  Anyone can do that.

I drag myself through a slimy alley of darkness and live to keep it a secret.

I don’t have time to spout pretty words and platitudes and cocktail party phrases.

My life, my existence is this: every word counts.

Every stinking drop of sweat on this table is a poem. Every lamentation for lost vices pushes a limit. Every painful sunrise is a testament to being laid bare every night.

Every click of the compressor motor on the refrigerator counts down to the end, closer than the beginning, and I am alive to feel every second of it, taste every bitter dreg of it, lose myself in all the places where I don’t matter.

I took a walk in the woods one day on a well-worn path dappled with shade and sun

beside the path, a quiet creek made its run

to the ocean, you say, but maybe to a thirsty belly or a still

 

The earth felt alive and laughing at my puny existence as I ground out the miles without a real sense of distance,

but miles went by.

I heard a hum, like the twang of a lonely banjo that slides in and out of the mountains after a midnight rain when the fog settles low

The hum of the earth, the world, the sentience of startling rocks that pace my path, not as stumbling blocks, but

guides to the secrets of the ground

If I only listen and dissolve my barriers of skin, mortal skin

 

 

I went out between rain showers to stock up for the next few days

and my guy was in there, doing his thing, selling the booze, chatting up the customers

I got my stuff, he showed me a stash of a rare minibottle that I covet

He said he saved it just for me, and you know, just for a minute, I thought that we are more than just customer and clerk. He thought of me when I wasn’t there.  In my pathetic isolation, I believed that.

But it was ok in the end.  I told him I needed to write today, and he said, today is a good day to make some great poetry, what with the rain, the grey skies, and a couple of pops of liquor to lubricate the wheels, I mean, that’s what I do when I want to create.

And in that moment, we connected. He said, your eyes are twinkling today.  I said, you look about sixteen with your new glasses. He said, write about it!  It’s a good day to write!

In the half dark, I write.  The rain falls soft, then hard. The tv murmurs in a back room. And I write.  I write. The booze sits untouched, waiting for a celebration or maybe a wake, but the words come

strong and sharp and cut me to the quick.

 

donation

keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos

$1.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 drink the good booze when she’s flush and the shitty stuff when she’s broke.

I know she won’t listen, because she holds out hope that it gets better.  She has to believe it gets better, otherwise, she will shatter into a million pieces, maybe end up pushing a grocery cart and feeding pigeons with the crumbs in her homemade dreads, drinking buzzballs, collapsing into a heap in the park.

donation

keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos

$1.00

Wondering where the dream went.

If she’s lucky, she will claw her way out to the other side and sit under a bare bulb over the kitchen table, thinking about her younger cosmic twin just starting out, sipping a fine microbrew and sending not good vibes but survival vibes.