My husband Michael visited Cancer Land nearly fifteen years ago. All these years later he enjoys a cozy and practical relationship with the reality of death. This is good for me, the recently reprieved, the tentatively hopeful. Such intelligent rationale and healthy fatalism is ultimately comforting.
Last Sunday, a mostly gray day punctuated with angry squalls of rain, thunder and lightning, Michael noticed a break in the weather around 5 p.m. and suggested a walk on the wide, breezy promenade at Smathers Beach. I picked my head up out of the book I’d been reading, and told him I was afraid of being struck by lightning. So, no.
“Oh don’t worry about that,” he said. “If that happened you’d never even know it. And it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Think of all the misery you might miss. You’d avoid the risk dying a lingering death of cancer or of drying up of old age.”
I came out from under my quilt, sneakered up and followed him out the door. By the time we arrived at the beach I sort of hoped I would be struck by lightning. What a great line for my obituary!
|Who would notice this?|
|Two years down the road from Cancer Land. (Thanks, Alyson, for the happy picture,)|
She’d apparently not heard of my visit to Cancer Land. Surgery on my neck has left me somewhat rearranged. Cancer treatment, after all, is always a deal with the devil. So I’m not the same as I used to be, but who is? In any event, since that surgery, husband, family, friends, and coworkers have all assured me my scar and tissue deficit is barely noticeable, unremarkable, and certainly no one meeting me for the first time would suspect from my appearance that any bad thing had ever befallen me. But Lois, with the spirit of a soaring eagle, and the keen eyes to match, noticed. I laughed out loud. Thank you, Lois, for your unerring honesty. And thanks for acknowledging those hard-won battle scars. Thanks for reminding me to live till I can't.
|Miguel Perez and his grandfather, Miguel Perez.|
My ex-father-in-law is absurdly healthy, also is in his mid-80’s. He doesn’t do much anymore. He lives quietly, and often consults his doctors with health issues that have so far turned out to be not life-threatening. Still, his patience is wearing thin.
“How’s your life going, Grampa,” my son, his grandson, might ask him.
“It’s taking forever!” Grampa always answers.
One of these days I’m going to write myself a brilliant obituary. It will be long, and probably expensive, because the Key West Citizen charges by the inch for obituaries. But that bill won’t be my problem. And right there, you’ve got something else to like about being dead!