Here’s something I wrote in between appointments before my diagnosis, back before all of your wonderful comments and hopeful stories, when my only exposure to cancer was its unforgiving side. I haven’t edited it since.
Nothing makes you ponder the meaning of Mother’s Day quite like finding a lump where there shouldn’t be one. And then hearing post-mammogram murmurs that include words like “curious” and “needs further investigation,” followed shortly thereafter by a deep-tissue biopsy. And even though I knew it would turn out to be nothing, that there was no need to be alarmist, there was also that teeny tiny possibility, however small, that this could potentially signal the end of the road for me.
Me: Okay, calm down, Tammy. We’re going to be just fine.
Me: That’s what everybody says, but then how do you explain all these people with cancer?
Me: But we’re still young. Sort of. Mom doesn’t have cancer. Neither of our grandmothers had cancer. Everyone lives to be 90.
Me: Yeah, that’s what they want you to believe. That you have aaaaaallll the time in the world before they cut you down in the prime of your life.
Me: Who’s they?
Me: I don’t know. Secret government agencies? Terrorists? Monsanto? Whoever gives out cancer.
And then there were all the nagging questions. Questions like: Was it the meat that did it? My lack of religion? Will my kids even remember me if I die now? My face, I mean, not just a nebulous source of yelling. They’re still so little. Who will cook for them? What if they go back through the old digital photos someday and find more pictures of my meals than pictures of them and think I loved my dumb blog more than them. What if they grow up sad and bitter with the world instead of gradually easing into the sadness and bitterness of the world? What if they stop laughing?
What about Husband? Will he recover? What if he refuses to fall in love ever again? What if that refusal has nothing to do with me dying? What if he does fall in love again and remarries a bombshell? A bombshell with housekeeping skills. Will my spirit be mad?
What if nobody comes to my funeral? What if nobody can think of anything to say during the eulogy: “She was…a girl.” God, that would be awkward. I’m glad I won’t be there to see it.
What if people decide it’s less painful to forget me than to remember me? And five years down the road people are afraid to even bring up my name. I’ll be the unnamed dead person no one wants to talk about. What if you can’t donate your organs if you have cancer? What if no one remembers that I want to be cremated instead of buried and that I want my ashes sprinkled in two specific places and that I want my funeral at another specific place that’s not a church but I never write them down so no one knows what they are? What if it doesn’t matter?
What if my Dad stops believing in God? What if my Mom loses hope? What if Nonni outlives me? It would kill her. But at least then I’d have some company up there. Well, unless I go down there, instead. Hmmmmmm. Maybe God would let her write letters of a non-flammable sort? Sent by carrier pigeon so I can have lunch, too?
What if there’s nothing but blackness?
Well, that was fun! This is the part where I was supposed to say that the results came back fine. That I totally wasn’t worried. That the lumps were just raisins and, by the way, here’s a recipe for oatmeal cookies. (This is why you shouldn’t write your posts before real-life events unfold.) But at least now I’m off the hook for typing up the recipe because, really, are you hungry for cookies right now?