Monday, November 20, 2006

A thump in the chest

It hits at the oddest, most unexpected times. Steffi told us that cancer cleaves your life in two. There's no longer one long, smooth, unbroken track; instead, you have BC (before cancer) and AD (after diagnosis). And once you fall, sprawling, over the rut into AD, you can never go back again.

So I'm reading a great little piece in Salon about giving thanks at Thanksgiving, and the clarity and wonder that come from living past cancer. A very nice piece, and I completely agree. Then I look at the letters, and one woman writes that she is grateful for never having had cancer.

Which is when I get the thump. Because, unlike the letter writer, I have had it. I know lots of people who haven't--far more who haven't than who have. And I used to be able to have that same relieved, satisfied little feeling of being one of the ones on the good side. Now I have to check that box on all the doctors' forms, and I have to claim that history (in both medical and symbolic senses). Boo hoo, me.

Yes, before you rush to reassure me, this glumness is accompanied by the recognition that I still have the thing to be grateful for. And maybe it's even more profound. To walk with death, and come out still alive; where would all our heroic tales be without that? The Salon article itself talks about how life AD is a little sweeter, a little clearer, for the darkness that we pass through to arrive back at life. I get it, and more than intellectually. I do feel deeply, profoundly grateful, and the world is definitely bright. I love feeling better every day. I love being back to my life. I love how much I appreciate it, and how I can dismiss the little annoyances, because of the past 8 months.

But still the sense of loss. Cancer is the gift that keeps on taking.

3 comments:

Heidi and Sarah Face The Day said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jen! We are so thankful that you have come out of this (changed but) okay. Have a wonderful day! We love you and Noah and wish you both the very best! Love SRA, Kwai and our JJJ girl.

Alex Berks L. Ac. said...

Hi Jen,

I happened accross your blog. Very moving Thanksgiving prayer.

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http://www.healthwithcancer.blogspot.com
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Anonymous said...

Jenny, as always, your words move me in ways i never expect. i DO want to offer some words of comfort, of optimism, of whatever, but i don't think you really need them. you already know what you need to know. Maybe, the only thing i can do, should do, is remind you that i love you and along with scores (probably hundreds!) of people around the globe who know you and of you, celebrate your life.