Everything had been going along just fine. It’s the slow season at work, the kids are happy and healthy, and I’ve been enjoying my creative outlets at a previously unmatched pace. Additionally, my anxiety meds seem to be working efficiently for once, and I’m happy. And healthy.
And then a single, seemingly offhand, comment dumps me off my Cloud Nine and Mortality slaps me in the face.
You see, I recently learned that a friend of mine is dying of cancer. It’s quite one thing to die in the regular old way, but then there’s cancer. To die of cancer is to suffer in incomprehensible ways. Maybe you get lucky and you die quickly, but oftentimes it’s a long, drawn process that isn’t over till it’s over. You stare death in the face every single day until the bitter end. It’s nice for getting one’s affairs in order, but the cons far outweigh the pros of a slow death by cancer.
Of course, not everyone dies of cancer. Most live, actually, but I’m not talking about remission or recovery or any of those happy endings today. I’m talking about watching a valiant, eternal struggle come to a violent, eternal end.
And there’s not a got-damn thing I can do about it.
I’ve got it so good. I’m not presently dying of cancer. Even this wallowing in self-pity and the afterbite of mortality’s slap is silly, considering the alternative.
The sadness is overwhelming, though. Every good person I knew who was taken by cancer is now a fresh memory. I’ve even managed to take my sadness and disgust with death a step further and conjured up memories of every single unfair death I’ve experienced in my life.
I’m thinking specifically of my friend, Suzanne Holland, who passed away a couple of years ago after a very, very brave fight. I’m not sure I brought much to her life, but she was my steady voice of reason, encouragement, and advice when I was having difficulty navigating the Sea of Working Parenthood. She praised me at the very moment I needed praise, she made me laugh at the very moment I needed a laugh. Suzanne was a mentor to me in every way. And now she’s gone. I have come to admire others in the way I admire her, but no one has been able to capture the moment as well as she.
We can’t live forever. And cancer doesn’t discriminate. But why does cancer always strike those who are worth something here on Earth? Or perhaps cancer thrusts those accomplishments and contributions to the forefront, as though shoving them into the light will somehow make the cancer retreat in defeat. It’s a nice thought.
I’ve decided I’m going to be sad for awhile. I’m going to sit here, red in the face from Mortality’s bitch slap, and I’m going to simultaneously be grateful I have not yet died of cancer and wish with all my heart I could take the cancer and suffer instead. And I’m not going to like it one bit.