I recently got the nicest compliment from one of my dear internet friends on my great attitude. I mention that she's an internet friend not to suggest that she's any less of a "real" friend, but to point out that the only parts of me she sees are the ones I post online. I try to be honest in what I post; that is to say, I would never post anything, about myself or about anyone else, that I know to be untrue.
But let's face it: most of us don't post our WHOLE lives online.There are certain things we avoid posting, in order to avoid upsetting others, or to avoid making ourselves look bad. Given the choice between two pictures to use as our profile pic, we pick the more flattering one. So perhaps my friend, who was so impressed by my positive attitude, wasn't getting the whole picture.
The thing is, for about a week after my diagnosis, my attitude really was great. I knew I had cancer. I knew, give the type of cancer I have, that it could end badly. Yet I was okay. I wasn't bitter, recognizing that bad things happen to everyone at some time. I prayed to St. Paraskevi and St. Lucy for intercession. I felt that no matter what happens, even if this cancer kills me, that things would be okay. I reflected on the blessings: proximity to a world-class hospital, medical insurance, the fact that our move was completed by the time I found all this out. I felt really, really good.
And then I didn't.
One day, in the midst of reading a note from a friend, my great attitude deflated like a souffle. Who knows why. It wasn't that the note said anything particularly upsetting or offensive, or in fact, terribly different from other notes I had received. But my visceral response to one line of it was, "Well, fuck you." Which wasn't fair, because I had been thinking the exact same thoughts to myself minutes before I opened the note, but when someone else admonished me so...not interested. (Kind of like when I look in the laundry room and think, "I have GOT to deal with that mess," but when my husband suggests, as politely as possible, that I think about getting to the laundry room, I get my back up and suddenly remember several pressing episodes of "Designing Women" that need watching while I eat a bag of cheese curls.)
So anyhow. My lovely attitude evaporated, and I was left with horrible, mean little me. Several of the less attractive stages of grief descended on me at once, pummeling me with their tiny, scaly fists. Anger, and Depression, and even Bargaining, during which I suggested to God several people whom he might more profitably afflict with eye tumors. I won't pretend Ann Coulter's name didn't come up.
I took to my couch with a bag of Halloween candy and a blanket and watched TV for the rest of the afternoon, which was restorative. I prayed a little, though not especially coherently.
My attitude is better now. No longer fabulously serene, but not angry or sad, either. Just waiting for my appointment on Tuesday, waiting to figure out what's next. And then to go and do it.