The kid turns 13 today. The Bar Mitzvah is next week. I finished my maintenance chemo.
I FINISHED MY MAINTENANCE CHEMO. Finished. As in over. (for now)
“Stop that Aviva. Be an optimist."
“But no one ever told me it wouldn’t …”
“Shut up. Don’t worry. Be happy. (Steal other people’s lyrics)”
“I’ll work on some happy. As for don’t worry; why would I do that? I love worrying.”
“What you need is a theme song
Come on baby, don’t make excuses.
Out of your time, you could make some uses
Other people have bar mitzvahs and cancer and work full-time.
What’s up with you(ses)?
Come on baby, get some shit done.
Come on baby, we ain’t seen none.
“Nice beat. Who wrote that?”
Every single one of my excuses for hanging back, wobbling, Netflicking, picking at my novel, not telling anyone about the book I wrote – is legitimate. Cancer, Bar Mitzvahs, anxiety, fear, grief – as excuses go, they’re good ones. The only people who give me a hard time on a regular basis about getting next to nothing done are me and my Dad. Him I can get off the phone. I seem unable, however, to hang up on myself. But despite the ‘excusiness’ of my excuses, I continue to stockpile them. It’s important to have a handful stuffed in my back pocket. People find them endearing.
So that’s it on the toxic injection/protection front. For now. Off I go, into the wild blue yonder (more lyrics). Actually, it feels like I’ve been in the yonder forever – pretty wild, pretty blue. It might be time for this wander in the yonder to end. Or is there such a thing as going even yonderer?
Wasn’t I just talking about this the last time we were together? 40 years. The desert. The fear. I told you I’d be officially un-tethered once the chemo ended. Turns out the tether stays.
The oncologist and I had a little chat and it seems I’m not quite done. Ever. Not to be alarmist, but she said: “With your kind of lymphoma you don’t get discharged.” So no cutting me loose. But the likelihood is (Fingers crossed. Mine not hers. Oncologists don’t cross their fingers) that after my scans in August, I’ll be given the colour green (that’s low) on the terror alert scale. Go about your business. No need to fret. The goal now is to have my terror alert match hers. So if she’s lounging in the green and I’m panicking in the orange, that’s a serious obstacle to going about my business. I’ve spent the last three years bouncing around in the yellow, orange and red zones. I don’t remember what it’s like to be unencumbered by terror.
The good news about never being ‘done’ is I don’t have to feel myself up. I have a professional to do that. The less good news (or maybe more good news depending on how you look at it) is that I’ll be felt up on a regular basis for the rest of my life. That saves me taking the four-month course on Spotting your Symptoms (materials include a speculum).
In order to move from take cover to taking care of business, from panic to mere fretting, I’ll have to empty my pockets and do something useful with my time.
Three years ago it was my older son’s Bar Mitzvah. May 18, 2013. I’m grateful I had no idea what the next three years would bring. More fear and loss than I could have imagined, then all sorts of lovely – sprouting, like shoots do, through cement.
Chapter one of the lymphoma story is over. Chapter two doesn’t have to be the same story. Maybe lymphoma will appear in chapter 4, or 27 or 91. It’s out there somewhere. I can’t know. But I can choose to not let it be the main character.
Time for something new. But starting isn’t what’s hard for me. Finishing is. Regardless, it’s coming. Maybe not be this minute, but soon.
Isn't it a relief to know that tomorrow, or maybe the day after, can also be the first day of the rest of our lives?