This Too Shall Pass (But when?)

I keep telling myself that this too shall pass…

But what will it pass on to?
And when?

Too often with the cancer you wind up trading one pain in the ass for another.  Sometimes you don’t even trade– you’ll often end up with two (or a half-dozen) pains in the ass at once.  How Cancerful is that!  It’s a real pain in the ass, to be honest.

I’m speaking figuratively, of course: the pains, while frequent and widespread (motley and multifarious, if you’ll allow the saurus), are typically  located in areas other than the derriere.  Like the head, for example.  I’ve had a lot of pains in the head.  But there have also been pains in the neck, and the knees, and the gut…  and now that I think about it, the derriere area has seen its own share of Cancerful controversy over the last few years too.  So sometimes the pain in the ass really is a pain in the ass.

Point is, there’s a lot of pains, wherever they may be located.  In the ass, or elsewhere.
For the sake of clarity, let’s just call them “a pain in the me,”  and get back to what we were originally talking about before this long pain-in-the-ass digression.  OK?  OK. Here we go:

I keep telling myself that this too shall pass…

But what will it pass on to?
And when?

Too often with the cancer you wind up trading one pain-in-the-me for another.  Sometimes you don’t even trade: you’ll often end up with two (or a half-dozen) pains-in the-me at once.  What a pain in the me!

To confuse matters, these Cancerful pains aren’t always painful  in the physical sense.  They can be intellectual or emotional pains.  Or, they can be physical things in your body that don’t actually hurt, but are so annoying and inconvenient that they still totally qualify as a HUGE pain-in-the-me.  (Which because I like acronyms and in the interest of brevity I will now call PITMs.)

This morning, i’ve got a few PITMs going.  One of them is in my gut, and this despite the fact (and not because of the fact) that I just had cake for breakfast.
Hey don’t judge–the last time I had cake for breakfast was after I had brain surgery (I earned it!)   And that was like a month ago, anyway.  This time, it was just because I happened to bake a cake last night before I went to bed, and what the hell else was I going to do when I got up this morning and saw a chocolate cake sitting there– eat cereal?  What am I, a fucking moron?

Anyway, my tummy hurts.  This has been going on for awhile.  And I swear it’s not because of my dietary habits; it’s a side-effect of a side-effect of all the cancer-fighting I’ve been doing.  All this surviving  has left with me with a pretty messed up gut, and that–my gut–was one of the things in my pre-Cancerful years that I never had a problem with.  In terms of size, or functionality.  My gut always worked real good.

Now, it’s a problem.  It’s one more pain-in-the-me,  in addition to all the other PITMs I still have, or will soon get.  For example, the tiny fracture in my back that I didn’t even know about (because I can’t feel it), which was apparently caused by medications, and not by anything fun like wrestling or climbing or trampoline-jumping.  Medicine fractured my back!  What a pain in the me!

But this is what happens.  You stay in this Cancerful fight long enough and you wind up with a lot of battle scars.  They come at you from all directions, and every single one of them is a pain-in-the-me.  The irony of surviving is that you get beat down.  It’s a war of attrition.  And the collective weight of all these scars eventually starts to feel like it might be heavy enough alone to bring you down, even though you’re still standing, despite the cancer.  (Or sitting, as I currently am.)

So when I told myself this morning that this one particular PITM I’ve been having trouble with– my newly surgically damaged vision — would eventually get better, I laughed.  At myself.  (Which is normal, when you’re having a conversation with yourself.)  I laughed, because…  well then what?

Because, when you’re Cancerful, the PITMs seem to just keep coming.  They come from every direction, and sometimes when you least expect it (much like the Spanish Inquisition.)  Surprisingly, some PITMs suck worse than the cancer that brought them on in the first place (which makes them part of the cancer, I guess?).  And they just keep piling up,  building on each other in one big Cancerful mess, until…

Until…

Hold on.  I gotta take a break.

[10 MINUTE PAUSE.   MAYBE 15.]

 

OK, I’m back.

As you might be able to tell, I”m having a really hard time writing this post.  Sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes it’s not.  This time, it’s not.

You see, this time, it’s actually difficult for me to see what I’m doing.  And I mean that literally:  I’ve had to keep my right eye closed the entire time I’ve been writing this.  With this new vision PITM I’m dealing with, for some reason that somehow makes it easier to focus on a computer screen.  But it’s still hard to focus.  And that’s not even mentioning the difficulties I have getting my brain to focus.

So there’s that, and the gut thing, and…. and even though I had cake for breakfast and I’m sitting in a comfy chair and a there’s a nice breeze blowing through the air… I’ve noticed several times in the last three hours (three hours!) that I’ve had to tell myself to keep going.  To just  finish writing this.

I’m telling myself that right now, in fact.  And I’m not even sure why.  I’m not even sure where I’m going with this.

I started writing this post because an idea popped into my head that I felt like I wanted to write about.  And I like writing.  So I started writing… but now it just feels like I’m complaining.  And I don’t like complaining.

I don’t want to complain anymore.  Ideally, I’d love to not have a reason (or many reasons) to complain anymore… but I know that that’s not going to happen.  I can’t just snap my fingers and make all these PITMs go away.  This is what I’m dealing with right now, and I have to deal with it.  This is where I am, right now, and it’s up to me what to do with it.

So what will the next paragraph entail?

I just smiled, when I wrote that.  I smiled, because it made me realize that right now, while this does suck, while all of these stacked up PITM’s are indeed a real pain in the ass, it is still up to me what to do with it.

I am lucky enough that it still IS up to me.

And that, my Cancerful friends, is bigger than a pain in the gut, or the butt, or the head OR the ass.  And sometimes it’s bigger than all of those combined.

So right now (Write! Now!) I’m going to finish writing this post, to cheer myself up.  I’m going to take this complaint about pains in the ass, and turn it into an encouraging, inspirational (and not painful) kick in the ass.

Because that’s all I got right now.  And you know what?  That’s good enough.  Because it was enough to make me smile again.  Just now.  And that’s a good place to start.

I think it might also be a good place to end.  Because even with only one eye open, it looks to me like I’m about to finish this post.  And I’m happy that I did.  Which means that I’m happy.   I just cheered myself up!  Which means that:

This, too, DID pass!

But what will it pass on to?

Maybe that’s up to me.

THE END.  (?)

Things You Can Still Do

Weird morning.  A lot of death in the air.  And coming from someone whose every day reality is spent wading ankles-deep in mortality (or brain-deep, if you prefer) death being weird is itself kind of weird.

So it got me thinking.  Which it does for all of us, I suppose. Thinking about death is the most difficult and peculiar train of thinking there is, since it feels so desperately important to figure out, and yet it rarely ever allows for any sort of acceptable conclusions, minor or major.

It’s difficult.  Even just thinking about death is difficult.  And that’s saying nothing of actually dying…  (See what I mean?  isn’t that difficult to think about?)

Anyway, what I’m getting at is is this: yes, it’s difficult– it’s really fucking hard, in fact.  It’s hard to understand, it’s hard to accept, and it’s especially hard to live with.

But that’s alright.  Some things are just hard.

The least we can do to ease our myriad burdens (this one in particular) is to avoid beating ourselves up for our inability to comprehend the incomprehensible, to accept the unacceptable.  Better to nod our heads in sad recognition of the fact that we just do not and maybe will never understand certain things.  Like this one particular thing.  And hey– that’s OK!  Because it’s hard! It’s really hard!

Of the many lessons I’ve learned in four years spent brain-deep in The Most Peculiar Of All Subjects, this is one of my favorites: That some things are just hard.  And that’s OK.  It’s OK to not know what to say sometimes, or even to think.
And one of the best things you can to do to make things a little easier is to accept the fact that it’s not always going to be easy.  We’re not always going to be able to figure it out.

But that’s OK.

Sure, it sucks.  Yes, it hurts.  Some times we find ourselves standing in front of a wall that seems so impassable and incomprehensible that we want to just bang our heads against it and scream.  And make ourselves hurt even more, out of frustration that we can’t just magically make it disappear.
But then, if wait long enough, something will change.  Something will come, as easily and lightly as this morning breeze, and we’ll open our eyes, and rub our heads and look up:  and that wall will be gone.  Or at least half as tall as it was.

And we’ll smile, and  we’ll go on.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about this morning.

And it reminded me of one of the other lessons I’ve learned about death, in my last couple of years wading through it.  Here it is:

There aren’t many things you can still do, after you’re dead.  But one thing you can still do is this:

You can still make people smile.

And that’s really something, isn’t it?

This morning, someone who is no longer here, and about which I am terribly sad, still managed to make me smile.  Just thinking about her… I cried, but then suddenly I smiled.

And as difficult as all of this is, that one little part didn’t feel difficult at all.  That smile came easily, and honestly, and it felt true.  It felt like a gift.  And that gift is as real as the sadness, because here I am smiling again, right now.  Because of her.

She just did that.  Even though she’s gone.

Now that really is something.

Thanks.