It has been a year.
A year ago I didn't think anything would ever be alright again. The sky would always carry unbearable weight, food would always taste like metal, sleep would never be unbroken. I never thought I would ever look like myself again, feel like myself again, be able to concentrate for six minutes without thinking about sickness. Disease. Dis-ease. Nothing easy.
I am glad I didn't know what I was getting into. Nothing prepares you for cancer. Read all you want, go to doctors, talk to people. Nothing will prepare you for the weight of your breath in the quiet of the night when the world falls down. And the world will fall down. In big booming pieces, every single day. My body just stopped acting like my body but I made it do what it used to do anyway. I made it go to work. I made it walk. Then I made it run. Then I made it run again. I made it get on stage and sing. I had no idea how bad I actually felt. I had just assumed I would feel that bad forever. And I wasn't going to sacrifice the living part. I wasn't going to curl up into a ball and let the blackness settle in my bones anymore than it actually had. The human spirit is all well and good, but human will trumps it in its general tenacity and single-mindedness. The spirit is like a bird. The will is like a badger; mean, scrappy, and close to the ground.
I used to go to Rye Playland when I was a kid. This cancer bit is a little like the Tunnel of Love on the Midway. Those things were always creepy and weird, much more reminiscent of crossing the River Styx than an opportunity to make out with anyone. There is this life in all its color and noise and familiarity and you get in this boat and begin sailing away from it. Everything gets quiet. Everything is dark. You have no idea where you're going but you know you're going forward. You cannot go back. It stinks. The dude operating the ride is sketchy at best. He has no answers. He has no teeth. You realize "this ride sucks" but you cannot get out of the boat. You cannot get out of the boat and the blackness and the strangeness and the nastiness start closing in around you. You can't take one more minute, not one second more, when all the sudden you turn a corner and light comes tumbling in. You come out of the Tunnel blinking like you'd never seen the sun, never seen color or heard the dulcet strains of Nenah Cherry being pumped from the speakers by the bumper cars. This world on the other side is totally new. You step out of the boat and the ground amazes you in its solidness. The blueness of the sky overwhelms you. Cancer is one fucked up carnival ride my friends! May you never be tall enough.
Relearning the life left behind before it all went to hell in a hand basket is proving to be a strange endeavor. I'm realizing I cannot do everything....but I can certainly try. Meaning is found in strange and quiet places.
My hair is growing back. I look like a six year old boy. I am not complaining. I no longer look like a baby bird. Yay! I do not live at the hospital. Food tastes like food, just in time for real life Milo peaches and Odessa sugar melons. And Bourbon still tastes like Bourbon, every once in awhile. Bit by bit these nasty remnants of the last months fall away, like ash, like armor. Several things trying to kill you all at once can be a bit taxing. But I never knew. You don't know how tired you are until one day you aren't tired and remember what it's like. It's best to not know.
When I go back to see the Captain I see women who I haven't seen before. I remember seeing women like me when I was first diagnosed with he funny boy hairgrows. I look at them and know completely how hard it will be. It will be a long hard haul. And you won't really know until the bend in the river, until the light comes tumbling in. But it will. It will.