I made a decision. I am living it.
Did I choose the right thing?
I just got home, having spent the morning in a place I prefer to not remember. Today was scan-day up in New York, meaning that I had an 0300 wake-up for an 0800 call-up for an 0900 irradiated trip through the tube.
Smelled the same. Sounded the same. The same waiting room as my first scan in 2006.
The same fears—magnified and managed. I know too much, now. And I know me better.
But the travel trudgery weighs heavy.
- - -
I wasn’t going to sit with the littlest LA and watch Shaun the Sheep. I had other things I could do. But, she was having none of it.
“Daddy, I like watching with you.”
I paused, turned, “That’s sweet, honey. What makes you say that?”
“I like it when you laugh. It means you’re happy. And last year you couldn’t be happy. You were too sick. I like you this way.”
I smiled, deeply. I crawled on the couch. We snuggled.
We watched Shaun the Sheep.
- - -
I rounded the corner, passing the threshold from sterile hospitalness to faux-wood warm waiting-roomness. Despite my fast, my stomach fell. My throat closed. Cottonmouth swallow.
They’re nice here. Really nice. They get it.
Drink your drink, stay within. Conversations surround. Fear, mostly. Some anger, tinged with sadness. Mostly fear.
A woman howls, somewhere around a corner, down a hall. Plaintive whimpers, animal sounds.
A family next to me. One child to her mother, fear in her eyes: “what’s that, mommy?”
Howls become…song. Moans become…gospel. No words, but melody. Meandering line, raw, worshipful blues, a song more ancient than history, more deeply-rooted than time.
“It’s a song,” answers the mother.
The child nods.
- - -
“I really hope your cancer stays away,” she says. Out of nowhere.
“I don’t want you to get sick again.”
- - -
Winter-jacket stuffed locker key in hand, I turned another corner. She was there. The singer.
Emaciated, pregnant, writhing slowly on the gurney, robes and sheets askew, her voice tremulous, she stared unblinking at…nothing. Or, nothing I could see. Gods know what she saw; her pain-glazed pharmacological stupor.
I walked past.
My heart broke.
My stomach dropped lower, bowels liquefied.
I know that pain. I know that stupor.
But, with a baby?
My gods. With a baby…
- - -
The eldest LA and I are journaling. Together. She writes me a note. I write her back. It’s easier that way, for her. We share a book. It’s ours.
She’s thirteen, that horrible, wonderful, awkwardly-graceful age between childhood and womanhood. So many questions. So much to experience, to learn. So many ideas sparking, sparkling in her awareness. Such an exciting and terrifying time—for her. And for me.
She discovered this blog. She’s read some of it. I don’t know what parts.
She will likely read these words—some day. Sooner or later.
She’ll learn that I don’t have all the answers…but that I ask the questions.
She’ll find out the back story of some big chapters in her life.
She’ll be challenged.
- - -
I slide through the tube, distracting myself. I think of the singer. I think of my girls. I think of the things I wish I was doing. I think of the things I have been doing. I think of what is undone and unfinished.
Eyes closed, I slide.
The voice tells me to hold my breath.
The voice tells me to breathe again.
And I’m surrounded by noise. And I’m perfectly centered.
- - -
I don’t know if I made the right decision.
What will be will be what will be.
I’ve got this.