Friendship, Cancer, and The Jokers

Hey, congratulations you’ve got stage IV cancer of the breast and bone lesions. Well, that explains why I wasn’t feeling so well. I recall receiving an email right before that most horrible week from a good friend and the email required my immediate attention. My attention won’t relate to anything at all back then when I had the diagnosis come down on me so hard I didn’t know when or where I was in the scheme of life. I don’t think I even opened email from back then yet. It sits, unread in my inbox – all of it.

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“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality” – Seneca

On my 52nd birthday my husband comedically quipped, “From her on baby you’re as old as a joker.” Why? “Because your age is equivalent of the number of cards in a deck.”

If you look in a card box after retrieving the deck of 52 necessary for the game you have in mind, such as solitaire, a pair of Jokers and the deck’s informational card sit, left over. I am the leftover — and now I’m entering the stage of life, the unwanted, the leftovers. I am in at the dawning of the age of the Joker.

Have a listen to the Australian band Wolfmother’s song, “Joker and the Thief.” It’s very catchy and if you like that song and haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Wolfmother their eponymous first album is great and has another song I like quite a lot called “Woman.” A three piece band, their sound is that of a love child, borne of f Spinal Tap and Jack White. Here’s a link for The Joker and the Thief on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lkPfgzR6Hw

“Can you see the joker flying over / as she’s standing in a field of clover.” Great visual for song lyrics, dreamlike and yet ominous, a girl whose innocence is her honor, and the bringer of death the Joker poised to take her away. At any rate, clover as I visualize it carpets the fields of Scotland and of Holland. Furthermore, when you find one with a fourth leaf, rather than the common 5 leaf species, it’s considered very very lucky. The green carpeted field conjures up the impression of a girl rolling in a field of money without a care in the world. The Joker takes away that innocence and invincibility – I’m no longer a girl anymore.

I’m now firmly planted on the other side of 50 years old – more than half a century on this third orbital from the dying star in our solar system. Remember when youth outweighed the cataclysmic teenage ubermensch-ism? Remember when 50 seemed extraordinarily old? 50+ years to a teenager seems so ancient. God, like, you know Stonehenge or the Pyramids at Giza. Rude punks, my other mohawk prickly friends and I would elbow one another and smirk towards those who crossed the half century line and to any person over 50: “wow that’s so old.” So, Ive turned some kind of corner now having become the joker in the pack of cards. The cards that don’t matter and stay in the box, and no one cares if they get lost.

I suppose if given the choice to see what I’d become now at this age, I think I’d like who I am and what I’d done and who I’ve become. Hopefully, you can look at yourself now, and know having all of those years to look back upon and smile with happiness in the warmth of good memories, or with bad decisions and hurt and sometimes embarrassment, the chill of regret comes and goes in a fleeting moment. Sometimes, we get the chance to undo a past regret. The opportunities come along infrequently, so try to recognize one when you happen upon it. I think it’s a strange enough concept, given the premise that you make your fate and take what’s in front of you – and make yourself better, create an improvement for your future self to incorporate. Use the good in front of you to drive your decisions.

Allow me to illustrate this phenomena with a personal example. About three years ago, I felt awful. However, I’d just gotten through a bunch of personal dramas — my dad died, my cat almost died, and a person who was a “friend” did something to cause enough stress to kill a normal human being. That was also when my husband tumbled deep into the dark well of depression.

Exactly thee months into 2015 I was really feeling awful and after watching me curl up into a ball on the bed ands reaching and crying in absolutely the worst pain I’d ever physically felt in my life. We all thought it was food poisoning. Wrong diagnosis. There were 7.5 liters of ascetic fluid that built up in my abdominal cavity. If you’re unfamiliar with how cancer travels from one place to another in the body, they can only travel via your blood stream or your lymphatic system. When cancer goes rogue through the blood stream, it goes through the liver which goes into overdrive and other extreme chemical reactions happen. I’ll skip the details, but the net effect causes a fluid to build up, and floating metastatic cancer cells coagulate without real purpose like Mercury in a thermometer. The silver beads attracted to one another and make larger more expansive ones that light up on a CT scan like tiny oil slicks.

Hey, congratulations you’ve got stage IV cancer of the breast and bone lesions. Well, that explains why I wasn’t feeling so well. I recall receiving an email right before that most horrible week from a good friend and the email required my immediate attention. My attention won’t relate to anything at all back then when I had the diagnosis come down on me so hard I didn’t know when or where I was in the scheme of life. I don’t think I even opened email from back then yet. It sits, unread in my inbox – all of it.

I lost the chance then at giving my hand to hold for a moment if she chose to pick it up so she could feel even slightly better – because I know intimately now tragedy causes loneliness. Let me say though, as a Joker I feel magically imbued with some preternatural ability to move around the here and now without being seen. Everywhere I go, I am not needed especially, yet I am empowered by my invisibility and the wisdom that improves with age. My wisdom tells me to go see her – call her – send flowers. DO ANYTHING to apologize that my physical state hasn’t allowed me to give her the attention then she probably didn’t need but I should have given her.

The Joker flies over and takes innocence like gasoline and soars over more clover until I find the lucky one, the one with four leaves. I am the luckiest Joker alive. So, to my friend who sent me a birthday card, now that the fireworks of the fourth are over I want to somehow tell her I love her and I think of her very often. I do hope she’s forgiven my remiss, having found out about my situation coinciding with her life’s loss. I hope so anyway.

She’s one of the good people I’m blessed in my life to know. The four leaf clovers? I now realize they’re the people in your life who I should never let go of and never give up on – regardless of the situation. They don’t care about a miscue. They’re too deep to be so shallow. They care about me and send the most positive thoughts they can.

Thank you my dear clover in the hills, I hope to see you very soon.

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