I would do my hair, put on makeup, and wear a different pair of shoes each day. I gave the med techs renovation advice; I complemented the ladies who did need to be accompanied on their beaded slippers; I bought stuff women were selling to raise money for their childrens’ schools. I brought milk in, so I could have it in my coffee, instead of that weird powdered stuff. There was a nice man who came in an ambulance every morning. I would share The New York Times.
I didn’t need a ride to radiation, which was what everyone wanted to do for me, drive me; I needed peace and understanding that for the rest of the day, when everything would seem to me to be “deal off” or “where’s the party?” I would talk to the people who came to radiation with their friends & lovers to feel better about themselves. “I’ve lost 20 pounds following her cancer diet,” and “doesn’t she look great?” Or I would ask the questions, carefully.
Driving there, I would pull back the sunroof on the car which smelled bad from hauling stuff (only BMW registered as a hauler at the Eagle Rock dump!). It was sunny, being Southern California, and I accumulated mardi gras beads on my rear view mirror: one with a parrot on it, from Dad, and some from when Dad and I visited New Orleans; one from the vet who helped us rescue cats; some left over from 17 years before, when we had been to New Orleans.
There was a Leonardo de Vinci coffee table book in the inner waiting room; my husband had written a play about him, and so I had done all of the research alongside him, out of curiosity. I think I took notes on the book.
I didn’t need casseroles I couldn’t eat (note to self: accept food for husband), or yoga, or some crazy herbalist telling me what to do. I accepted and respectfully tried all sorts of strange advice given to me by well-meaning friends. I confronted the big machine every morning. It is called death.
I didn’t know that real people, people who care – we say care “body, mind, and soul” but to me those are not separable entities -- you know, people who go to sleep with you at night and wake up with you in the morning – wouldn’t have minded the evil drain for the lymph and blood after the surgery and kept getting clogged. Not that my husband wasn’t open to that, but how do you say, “I don’t need your help with this, but, see?” if your relationship is so screwed that he sleeps on the couch watching security cameras and you know your best bet is putting a game face on, and he says, “oh, all this vomiting and your loopiness is from the pain meds – you’re on pain meds, aren’t you?”Still he asks: won’t you go out and adjust the cameras and the lights? These plants are dying; can you water them? Plenty of people with cancer have jobs.