Saturday, January 04, 2014

Forty-five

Today is my 45th birthday. From where I sit, that's quite an achievement, given what's happened over the last six months or so: I learned the cancer in my face had come back, and that this time there was no cure. (Short version: You can only kill it with radiation, which I've already had twice. The human body can't cope with radiation three times.)

In the meantime, I've been on a couple of different chemotherapies designed to slow or reverse the tumor's growth, and we're also looking at clinical trials. It's been a tiring, frustrating challenge, as I've mentioned before.

And each time there's been a bump (ha!) in the road, I've thought, What if this is it? What if this is all the time I have?

I've seriously not known if I'd make it to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. But looky, apparently I did.

And I don't know how much time I have ahead. Enough, I dearly hope, to enjoy my parents' visit in a couple of weeks. Dare I reach for our wedding anniversary in February? What about seeing the arrival of the 30 hyacinths I planted in the fall? What about The Boy's birthday in June? Is that asking too much?

While it's a cliché I'd happily punch in the face, all I can really do is take it one day at a time. Today, for instance, The Boy has booked us a suite at the Hotel Commonwealth. I intend to spend the day in my pajamas watching movies before taking a large and indulgent bath. A week ago, staggering through the exhausting side effects of chemo, the idea of leaving the house was too much to contemplate, so this is a big step.

And a nice change for The Boy. I certainly can't go on without mentioning everything he's done to keep me sane over the last few months, falling into roles he never expected, learning medical skills he really shouldn't need to know. Finding me things to eat. Taking on more of the household chores. Going out in snowstorms to get medical supplies. Letting me rail at him because there was no one else around.

Y'all better be good to him, is what I'm saying.

So, day at a time. Most will be quiet, subdued, nap-enhanced; this seems to be my modus operandum. And where once I may have struggled against that, now I accept it. I have books still to read, movies to watch, things to say.

So I won't get another 45 years. How about 45 days?

Yeah, I can do something with that.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With elegance, charm, and tear strangling truth - you write more than I can bear to think.

Suzie

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bairn we love you so much. We hope you and Diego, who we both agree is the best person you could have at your side, have the best day you can manage and of course you ain't going any where yet. We will see you soon. Stay strong. All our love
US2

3:55 AM  
Blogger Brynn Harrison said...

Your dignity and eloquence show your true class in face of mountainous odds. You are an inspiration and I'm richer for having met you. I remember our first meeting in a UCL disco all those years ago, it made me happy to meet such a voracious person from the homeland. Again I read this with a tear in my eye and lump in my throat with my fingers crossed. I send you all my hope and love. Brynn

4:16 AM  
Blogger Brynn Harrison said...

Sorry that should have been vivacious.

4:17 AM  
Blogger j. said...

I woke this morning and, for whatever reason, plunged into deep thought and prayer, meditation about what comes after, wondering where all my loved ones have gone, and picturing my own end of time. Soon after, I read your words, and now I carry you and Diego in my thought, in my heart, all day, always. This day is filled with love, and may your hearts overflow.

9:42 AM  
Blogger KimB said...

You amaze me, as I've commented many times before. Diego is perhaps a teeny-bit more amazing, if that's possible. He's the person I'd want by my side to face the world. The both of you, the strength that sometimes you may forget you have, is just awesome, both in size and awe-some-ness. Much love to you Carolyn on this day and the next 4,5, and 45!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Jon O said...

Written with grace, as always. Thanks for sharing, Carolyn.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Cynthia McKeown said...

I can't begin to fathom having the courage that you and Diego have, dear Carolyn and I continue to be in awe of you both. Sending you much love, now and always - Cindy

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here I sit, unemployed, alone, broke and soon facing eviction as I contemplate suicide. May peace come to us both

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Karen M said...

I get a huge pile of newspapers once a week from a kind friend who delivers them. Sometimes there are leftovers. Once a week I sit down and read the Globe daily g magazine. Today I read the article about you and your wonderful Boy and your horrible cancer. I'm completely in awe of your grace, humor and dignity. I drive to Brighton next Tuesday, and I know I will be gazing in the direction of Medford, thinking of you there, bravely living and doing a fine job at it. Don't worry about bucket lists; you've already done something phenomenal-you've changed lives. I know that now that you and your story are in my brain, your beautiful life will remain a part of my life until the day
I move on. The last thing you probably want is to be someone's motivation to live, to appreciate all of this screwy, fucked-up mysterious life- but, sorry. I've read your story, looked up your blog, will be sending prayers, blessings and love to you, a complete stranger. You have made the journey around the sun 45 times now! Your life has had purpose. Some purpose you know of, but much more will remain a mystery. I do know you've mad a difference in this 63- year old life. I will never forget you and your journey and courage. Thank you, and I hope you surprise everyone and live long.

8:11 PM  

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