Well, I made a right hash of that.
I was going to post something… then wasn’t… then thought I ought… then knew how private it was… then remembered what I’d told others. Maybe being honest might help someone else going through the mill…
When you get slung into surreal situations, there is a sort of fail-safe that plays out scenarios in the safety of half-buried imagination. Lets you try them on for size, if you like. Get a feel for how they fit. The calm, unfazed acceptance, the screaming fury, the sanitised sanity of philosophical serenity…
In none of them does your oxygen canula keep filling with snot when the tears even you don’t understand keep coming. When it is a relief to have answers you would cheerfully scream at. When the dying becomes the easy part and living, knowing how much it is going to hurt those you love, becomes the hard bit.
And then you have to tell everyone. And no, you still don’t really have answers… just a few facts and generalisations.
And what you really want to know why they said, just a few days ago that it might even be treatable…
Because it isn’t.
It is small cell cancer. It has spread to the equivalent of stage four-plus. Which means they can’t treat it with any view to making me well again… though the palliative care may well help me live in good condition with it for a while.
The prognosis is not good and that particular doctor… a chest specialist, not an oncologist commenting on my case, will only generalise and say ’months to short years’.
Well, what’s different between me and everyone else then, except a bit of fair warning? We’re all in that particular boat really. Death can happen any time and I just get chance to be a bit more organised about it.
I’m determined to make it to Cairn Holy with Mary in Spring.
I can work with that.
Will I see the heather in bloom again, though?
Can’t handle that idea. It makes me cry.
And all of a sudden, I’m fed up of being reasonable. Sensible. Logical.
I actually want to be unreasonable about this. To break things. To say it isn’t fair that I won’t get to a ripe old retirement. That I can’t share time with those I love just because I can… because now there will always be a limit on possibility. Because I’ve been here, you see. I know what it is like to lose those you love most to cancer. It changes how you see things, how you experience and remember things… how you store memories.
It can and often does make everything more precious.
But for one night, you almost wish no-one cared at all, because then, you wouldn’t feel them shake in your arms, or see the hurt and loss looming in their eyes, knowing that you can do nothing at all to stop that.
And that, after all, you shouldn’t.
That you know, deep down, that this is part of their story and learning too. No matter how well or how badly you handle both the news and the fallout, tomorrow will be a new day.
You will learn how to walk through a world where the rules have slipped sideways a bit. Because we do… we are adaptable creatures, humans. And your loved ones too will find their own path through their shadows… hopefully a path where we can all share laughter and lunacy along the way. Making the Living of it worth its capital ‘L’.
But for one night only… maybe it is okay to get it all wrong, go to pieces and just say oh, bollocks.