Life’s interesting. It’s also the only game in town. I wonder if that’s why we’re committed to liking it: there are no other options. You can’t request a transfer to life, section seven if you feel this one isn’t working out. God should’ve checked in with universities on scheduling and course layout.
If life was a television show, the reviews would include words like “torturous,” “dragging,” and “inhumane.”
A more bitter introduction than I intended that leaves me segue-impaired. Ah well.
What if Indiana Jones hadn’t been able to run? What if his feet had been stuck to the floor? What if he could only watch as the death ball approached? [i]
On the bright side, we’d’ve been spared “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
My mother’s lung cancer is metastatic. It’s on the move and the vomiting she’s doing most days is not a good sign. A trip to New Zealand so she can see my three-years-younger brother is looking less and less likely. Especially since my father’s diagnosis of dementia has been made official, his COPD is progressing, and he needs a thoracentesis, happening this morning.
I’d mention the fact that my chronic pain isn’t getting any better, but that would look like a shameless plea for sympathy rather than an explanation of the additional weight being brought to bear. I also have my children to parent, in their twenties with all the problems of that age. I’m dealing with my parents, my current reality, my future grief, and my children’s introduction to loss. Who knew I could juggle so well?
Can chainsaws be far behind?
One would think then I’d have lots to write about, but I’ve nothing to say. My emotions remain locked tight, save for brief appearances in counselling spaces.
I borrowed some books about death and the ball that’s going to flatten me from the library, but I didn’t like them and gave up. I decided I didn’t need to borrow grief when my own is looming.
I liked books about death more before it started lurking.
I have hard conversations that are mostly about listening. I have conversations about treatment and how much is enough. I have conversations about not giving up because death is coming sooner than planned, and about not painting the kitchen a depressing neutral in anticipation of estate resolution. [ii]
I have conversations with both parents about the other, trying to balance hope with soft realism. It’s hard to tell your father that the problems his wife of fifty-three years are experiencing aren’t from the diabetes we can address, but from the lung cancer we can’t. It’s hard to tell your mother that it’s not likely the signs of dementia in her husband will reverse.
I’m learning how little our society values the old and ill. I’m learning that in Canada, actuarial tables have more influence over the treatment you’ll get than you supposed.
In a perfect world (perfect and easy for me), I’d be the person who felt fine with running away. In the imperfect one, life has become embracing one moment at a time most of the time. It’s benzos to help with sleep, marijuana and pain killers to smooth out the edges, and boundaries that need to be maintained even when I feel like screaming and rending my flesh.
I have ugly thoughts sometimes about family and friends who aren’t there for other people’s pain. It’s hard for them, apparently. This isn’t new information; I’ve taken them to task over this attitude on before. Would there was someone taking them to task about me.
People can only be who they are, however, so angry is pointless. I gather from the few interactions we’ve had lately that they think things are going to go “back to normal” when this has all “settled.” [iii] Once I’m “feeling better,” and “have more time.”
I remind myself that I’m learning to live life on my terms. I remind myself that other men’s crosses are not my crosses. I’m moving on from caring about OPL (other people’s labels). I breathe in and out and let go of the angry. Mostly.
In days gone by, I’d have attempted to engage. I’d have worked on repairing the friendship structure only I realized was broken.
That was then. I’m a bit busy these days.
It’s a big rock.
[i] Spoiler alert for “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 1981.