Sunday, August 21, 2011

When the Walls Close In

I have been sketching and scrapping posts since we came back from our trip.  I want to tell you about the Newport Folk Festival, which means so much to me.  I want to tell you how Dave Rawlings taught me to play guitar (and if you have heard Dave play, and heard me play, you will wonder if I was paying attention).  I want to tell you so many things that are flying around in my head, but I find myself with an hour to write, and it is this hour, and this is what I am writing:

Today is August 21.  A year ago at this time, I was ignorant of the fact that the walls were about to close in.  I felt bad enough to finally make a doctor's appointment (having not slept for more than a few hours for at least a month and finding myself almost unable to eat due to pain in my mouth), but not bad enough to think anything was really wrong.  I had a bump on my jaw that I needed to have checked out, and I would half-joke to myself that it was cancer (I think I knew it was cancer), but even that didn't alarm me particularly.  By Thursday of this coming week I will know that I probably, most likely, have leukemia.  I will sit on the grass in the sun in front of my house in a hallucinogenic daze, weeping in fear and in joy and in confusion.  I will realize I don't know anything about leukemia.  I will spend the coming weekend with my husband's mother, brother and sister-in-law, trying to smile, waiting for the results of my biopsy and trying to figure out how to treat myself and how to avoid chemotheraphy.

The world will become very small, the slant of light thin and blinding; the periphery will disappear.  I will spend most of the September that I had so looked forward to, that golden child of the calendar, in a series of small, white rooms in an aged brick building in Portland.  I will spend the rest of it trying to rebuild myself from inside ninety-two pounds of flesh, behind sunken eyes, under a shaved head. The rest of the fall will look much the same.

Sometimes the moment is so big that you can't climb out of it even if you want to.  Sometimes the sky falls so far that you find yourself sitting in the clouds.  Sometimes, somehow, gratitude and fear are the same. 

I had so many things I wanted to tell you tonight.  I am grateful, so grateful, that I will have another day in which to tell them.
This photograph was taken at Thanksgiving, 2010
This is me now, with John's grandfather and the little boys