No one really likes to think or talk about death. I don’t mean death in the abstract or horror film way, but real, tangible, this is going to happen way.
Although I am determined to live a long life, another 40 years at least, I can’t help but think that from now on it’s always going to be there, waiting for the next fight.
Cancer has made me and those around me realise that I’m tougher than I look, but it has also made me more aware of my own mortality. It was something I always took for granted, living. I still daydream about the cottage in the hills, by some lake in the Lake District or in North Wales or some seaside town with easy access to an airport to that hubby can get to the Alps easily. It has always been the same. Mountains for him, proximity to water for me. We ended up in London because this is where I wanted my career to flourish, and it did. I wanted to take advantage of all that London had to offer. Parks, theatre, ballet, opera, gigs, pubs, restaurants, etc, etc. I made very good use of it all in the five years we’ve been here, before Cancer and a pandemic locked me in the house. I’m glad for those years and I’m happy in my home with its comforts and garden and homegrown veg and big screen TV and two loving but needy cats. My world is complete.
Yet, even though I’ve had a second reprieve from the Big C, and I’m taking full advantage of the time I have, I feel like I’m always ready, always looking over my shoulder or eyeing my blood results with suspicion. When will I be called upon to fight again? Be assured, I fully intend to fight. Fuck you cancer, you don’t get to win, has been my mantra. That hasn’t changed.
Yet, I still catch myself thinking of my parents and others in my life. I don’t want anything to happen to them, but the natural order of things dictates that they should go first. No, I don’t want my parents to die. Not now, not ever, but someday they will and anything happening to me or my brother would finish them off. How do we reconcile that? I sometimes look at the ring my mother gave me when I graduated university and think, which niece will inherit it? Ideally, I want to give my things to my nieces and nephews while I’m still alive. I want to enjoy the feeling of seeing their surprise or the satisfaction of knowing it got to them without a will or other piece of paper telling them that it was meant for them all along.
I also think of people who have died during this pandemic and those particularly brave people who have carried on and cared for the sick or kept us fed by keeping the wheels turning. Death has always been there. It’s the natural order of things, but unnatural death, through illness, accidents, suicide or murder, those are the cruelest things of all. The unexpected might spare one the pain (hopefully) and trauma of death, but it’s the biggest cheater of all when it comes to saying what you really think before it’s over. I forgive you, please forgive me, I love you, I’m sorry, don’t vote Republican, the money is in my copy of Great Expectations, you’re adopted and your real parent’s address is in the desk, your grandmother’s cookie recipe is in the pocket of my kitchen apron, please donate to PETA, you get my jewellery but your sister gets my designer wardrobe, go to Australia for a trip since I never made it, I’m going to haunt you if you even think of remarrying, keep adopting cats, etc, etc.
I’m joking now, but not really. I’m going kicking and screaming, I’m going out scratching, spitting and fighting someday, but not yet, not yet. I just know that’s going to happen someday, the trick is to get as much done as possible before the fucker calls back.