“The loneliness within me
Takes a heavy toll
‘Cause it burns as slow as whiskey through an empty aching soul and
The night is like a dagger
Long and cold and sharp
As I sit here on the front steps
Blowing smoke rings in the dark” Gary Allan
It’s not loneliness that fills me as much as the dreaded emptiness that I keep trying to hide with as many activities as I can so I’m not thinking about the next fourteen days. My blood work is on Wednesday, the beginning of the discovery to the right path of treatment. Right now. I long more than anything for a pack of Salem’s and I haven’t smoked in many years. There was a much enjoyed peace in seeing the orange ember burning in the darkness and the sweet smell of menthol wafting in the air.
For those of us who’ve been on a cancer journey, we dread the knowing almost as much as the not knowing. It’s a vicious cycle that torments you in the darkest hours when loved ones are sleeping and you’re not. Knowing makes it all real, not knowing gives us the peaceful bliss of what I don’t know can’t hurt me. It’s still part of the denial process that we grab onto for dear life because if we believe it hard enough, it won’t be happening to us. For me, again. I’ve been down this damn road three times already. I vowed adamantly I would never do chemo again. I would rather my life end then be sick like I was.
But that was before Vic was in my life. The last time I faced cancer, we were dating and doing the long distance relationship. At the time, I struggled with trust issues after my divorce so there was a lot of things I simply didn’t share with him. I handled myself. I put my iron woman facade in place and ran with it. Now, my vulnerability will be harder to hide.
Last night in our group, we discussed Thurber’s Daguerreotype of a Lady. I enjoyed the story immensely and the discussion among us. Mrs. Albright whom everyone called Aunt Margery, (our protagonist) was introduced to us by a young male narrator who discussed the different challenges she faced in her long life that he’s witnessed. She lived to the age of eighty-eight years and helped many people along the way in spite of the physical challenges she had with her own disabilities from an injury in her teens.
I was reminded of my grandmother who was so like Mrs. Albright in many ways especially the use of herbal concoctions to cure whatever. She had her own physical challenges getting around but that never stopped her from doing what was needed. My mother did everything in her power to not be like her father or like my father’s mother so my only experiences with natural remedies came from my grandmother and grandfather in my youth but the seed was planted.
As an adult with my own children, I became interested in non-traditional medicine more and learned how the different herbs could be used. My gardens today still reflect that interest. I’m not one to immediately run to a doctor nor to pop pills like they so readily want to prescribe which makes this diagnosis all the more challenging and frustrating. I’ve done radiation and chemo because that’s what options I had at the time.
It will be interesting to see if anyone is inspired to write a short story after reading this Thurber piece. Kate Chopin’s Respectable Woman inspired two different authors to write stories of their own. Maybe, I need to write about how my Grandmother and Mrs. Albright are birds of a feather. I would love to sit and converse with them both about the pros and cons of herbs as well as life in general.
Unfortunately, last night, the conversation flew by way too quickly for me. The night was still very young for me so I escaped back into my book until my eyes protested. Yet sleeping through the night wasn’t in the cards. I sat with Gaia for quite a spell as Vic slept longing for that dang cigarette I didn’t really need to smoke as much as to hold in my fingers and watch the ember burn.
Today, is also June 1st, a very emotionally difficult day for me. Forty seven years I gave birth to my oldest daughter. I was a teen with a baby on my own. I was an emancipated teenager, trying to survive in an adult world. I placed her up for adoption but kept my records open. She did eventually contact me but that hasn’t been a smooth road either. Her mother died of cancer and she wished it had been me instead. I know she didn’t really mean it. She began a family of her own and I made her baby a quilt. Her reaction was hurtful when she said her baby would never use it. I’m grateful I can still see my granddaughter in pictures on facebook but I have never been allowed to be anything more than the voyeur. So this day comes with joy and sorrow. Joy because she is healthy and happy, and sorrow because I’m not wanted. I’m happy that she at least communicates with my youngest daughter. Interestingly, they have daughters the same age but are so different.
So don’t judge me for wanting a smoke… so I can watch the smoke rings rise…