Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Body of sand

While I was at the campus bookstore last week, buying my books early like a good girl, I saw lots of textbooks that simply looked interesting. I succumbed to only one, "The Best American Magazine Writing." More on why later.

Last night I decided to delve into it, with the first article I flipped to, "The Recruit" about a boy's decision to join the military and the consequences of that decision. Somewhere between talking to Jess and starting to read, my eye grazed another title, "A Matter of Life and Death." by Marjorie Williams. The article was an account of her diagnosis with an incurable liver cancer at age 43 and her subsequent acceptance of her fate.

A few of the more resonant sentences for me:

Notice, though, that I don't include my husband among those to whom my death was an imminent fact...
It could make me crazy, lying awake...wanting to talk about death, while Tim lay awake...trying to figure out the next five moves he had to make to keep me alive, and then, beyond that, to find the magic bullet in which I did not believe....drifted into a tacit, provisional agreement to act as if... I were in some genuine suspense about the outcome.

Yet it made me furious anytime someone tried to cheer me up by reciting the happy tale of a sister-in-law's cousin who had liver cancer but now he's eighty and he hasn't been troubled by it in forty years...I was working so hard to accept my death: I felt abandoned, evaded, when someone insisted that I would live.

This is so akin to my experience with mom that it was both a shock and a relief. There I was, trying to prepare (you can't, but I had to try) for the inevitable, deal with the ugly practicalities and have some kind of meaningful closure. And it seemed as if just about everyone around me was entrenched behind their wall of denial with an unlimited supply of non-perishable foods and they weren't coming out until the bomb went off right in their shelter. It made me crazy. If I had hair, I would have pulled it out.

Well, it's no surprise where my dream from last night came from. I was dying and I had gone around to say goodbye to everyone that I could. And now I was laying in a bed, in a room, by myself, waiting for the end. I couldn't leave the bed anymore because my body was slowly turning to sand and if I tried to get up, I would literally fall apart. As time when on, I felt more and more tired. More tired than I thought was possible. Any time now, I thought, I'm going to go to sleep and not wake up. But then I decided I needed to have the last word. So, struggling against the tired, I sat up in bed, laptop perched on my sandy legs and composed my last blog.

I never did get to finish it.

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