Sometimes the universe delivers exactly what you need to hear. Or, more likely, it was always there, but you managed to wiggle the knob on the old radio in your head just so the station comes in, maybe a little staticky, but well enough to hear.
Yesterday I heard two references to grief that were so spot on. The first, an author discussing her book and talking about "the cue-ball break of grief, where everyone goes into their own pocket," was so true, because grief, no matter if shared, is still so private and must be dealt with in one's own way. And this, from Anne Lamott: "The only cure for grief is grieving."
For reasons passing understanding, yesterday I realized that I have cancer, and that it might kill me. I know it might not, and that most of you would prefer that I hang on to that. But it might, it really might. There's a decent chance that this is not a drill, though it's too early to tell. And so what I am grieving right now is not my life or my general good health, both of which I still have, but the ability to take those things for granted.
Up until now, even after my doctor appointment a month ago, I have kept the cancer in a box. I have had lots of work to do, and other obligations, and I have just dealt with them and been grateful for them. But yesterday all hell broke loose.
I called the social worker at the Eye Center, who is a lovely woman and who did not try to jolly me out of the realization that I might die far earlier than I would prefer. On the other hand, I'm not ready to pick out my shroud yet, and she was a little too willing to browse the aisles at Shrouds R Us with me. So that conversation lasted a couple minutes longer than I needed.
My husband called me from work as he often does, to check in and to make sure I haven't gone too batty from sitting at a keyboard alone all day, like Jack Nicholson in the Shining. He heard something weird in my voice, darling fella that he is, and I told him that I was scared and that I need to be able to acknowledge that with him because he is my person. That I did not want to freak him out or make him think I was conceding defeat, but that I need to acknowledge reality and take care of some of what the funeral people call "pre-planning." I asked if he thought I should get a plot for just myself or if we should pick out a doublewide, generously allowing as how his next wife might not want him shacking up with me after death. He quietly said, "There's not going to be a next wife." (Total lie, BTW, he's such a catch the ladies will be lining up on the porch with casseroles before I'm cold. He's not going to have a chance against that, but that will be his problem.) "Doublewide it is," I said grimly.
I really do hope all this is irrelevant for decades, but I so appreciated his willingness to neither give up on my life nor ignore the prospect of my death. I hate it SO MUCH when people say to "stay strong," because what it means is, "I have no idea what to do with your weakness, so please hide it." He doesn't ask that of me, which is one reason he's such a catch. He lets me grieve, so I have the chance to be happy again, for as long as I have. And I hope it's a really long time.