Tag: cancer and relationships

One Fresh Hell, Hold the Tomatoes

Last week found me a visitor to a mental health facility, leaving each evening alone and downcast. The place just a few miles from our home, in the foothills south of the city, in an unremarkable single story building where I chose to allow supposed professional responsible human beings to rescue my ailing partner from the shackles of long term anxiety and depression. Leaving without him broke my heart and provided not a whit of relief as a few close friends hoped a “break” in the action might provide. His pained eyes looking upon my sadness as yet another judgement to come down upon me. Another multi-year term added to the #lifer tag around my neck, another blow to my remnants of hope.

All the while I possess the knowledge that I likely won’t live to see our future through to a plausibly happy conclusion. Even though this love 10 years in the making, its melodramatic script changed and the film itself in the can, spliced together and the story arc mangled under the cruel editor’s blade. The final reels go to the studio with my scenes cut and lying on the editing room floor.

I hoped for relief at the end of a long week spent alone over the course of treatment, yet no sparkle reappears in his eyes yet and his life not yet resuscitated. It takes the Zoloft about four weeks to help much. But I’m mostly alone these days. Yearning for my partner’s support and the kind of tender and caring love many of which many metastatic sisters write and blog about, I now look over at him, home in bed, and find one whose dark, inky emotions remain locked away inside his heart, like the stars behind clouds in a dark night sky. He lays there disengaged, thinking to himself about things that cause long bouts of sighing, and the simmering anger of so many men who find themselves bitten by such disorders.

Sometimes, my difficulty lies in hiding my visible outrage for being his care giver for over three years, of which this past 18 months one of the most heart wrenching trials of my life. My god – this and cancer, too? Fuck. What more can one do but look up and ask the ceiling over our bed long and winding questions about the treacherous nature of spiritual meaning, self-worth, and the relative value of a life. I then break from the sum of my existential questioning of cogito ergo… to find an email in my inbox from someone who reaches out to me to thank me. Grateful for my honest approach to my blog posts they type out a note that reminds me of why it’s worth it to know that it’s my responsibility as a wife to make a decision to help alleviate my partner’s suffering and try to revive him. To ask that his soul be returned his body.

He, too, wants only the same for me and indicates we may not stay together. For fuck’s sake — why now and you have got to be joking (the only sentences I can form without punching him in the face.) These trivialities came to him exactly how? And in what universe does he believe he lives in where this would even be okay by a substandard unintelligent alien culture of unfeeling assholes? And with that he passes wind and falls asleep and I’m left to wonder alone, naturally, what fresh hell might await me tomorrow?

Hopefully a new sandwich called “fresh hell” from the deli and no more than that.

Positively Connected

“Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” Eckhardt Tolle

Our personalities and sense of self do not stem from our opinions. Not even in our age of entitlement formed through the public ramblings of one single ego-driven tectonic plate moving dictatorial notion. Important, no doubt, to someone impressive to all their tweets and likes command. Of course, every human being beginning at birth has a perspective. Narrow though a newborn’s and pickled though an alcoholic’s – and no single moral standard claims any higher reaches than another. Despite what seems evident to me, there still exists a subsection of hostility driven people, trapped in a prison of anger. Their approach to the world carries an unwavering intent to cause suffering. Yet, we are all responsible for our own suffering as well as responsible for suffering in the world.

So how can this be possible?

I can choose to live as a source of conscious positivity. A great example to illustrate Richard Feynman’s excited and animated discussion of how rubber bands work. Feynman explains in this must watch video by the BBC, how atoms jiggle when excited by other atoms in some way. If I recall one example is a racketball hitting the court. The jiggle created by the contact of bouncing a ball hitting the boards, which ever so slightly increases the heat in the floor because the ball is moving faster than the floor. The measure of increase in temperature then becomes a proof of energy transfer at a molecular level. The floor’s atoms are disrupted by the ball hitting it and that is not even the point although voila, his excitement creates a curiosity in us and an excitement about learning. Similar to positive consciousness of living in the presence of now.

Pedestrian example…notice on days when you’re in a bad mood how others pick up on your negativity and they respond negatively to you in kind? Perhaps you’re driving more aggressively because you spilled coffee all over your car and now speeding over the roads towards a meeting 15 minutes delayed. I can simply arrive at the meeting a bit late, calmly and apologize with a smile. Certainly my reception may start cold, but my cheerfulness and tenacity inevitably override my unfortunate tardiness. My associates’ experience a graceful and present human being and eventually respond in a like manner. I guarantee someone else in your meeting went through a similar situation at some point in their lives. Maybe even that very day. They will remember only what you tell them to remember – meaning how you transfer your energy to the human beings with whom you’re engaged – positive or negative.

Perhaps on my drive I make a negative detour and make myself even later by running a stop sign and getting a ticket. Instead of ruminating and becoming angrier, instead of cursing my spouse or partner, the inanimate coffee, my boss, the other drivers…so much negative energy transference I create in a single drive into a small blip in the course of my life. Why?

Think about it this way perhaps. An opinion in your consciousness when applied to others sets the alarms off, erupting in arguments allowing negative energy to break into your positive space, like a thief. If I view others as equal – no matter their origins and opinions – with an open heart and mind and listen, we find ourselves in positive space with diverse rich colorful discussions, opening minds and knocking on doors rather than knocking them down.

This in 52 years? I earned the understanding of this concept and I’m not sure it’s something I even learned at all. In fact it’s more a feeling in the spiritual sense, than knowledge or a meaning in the mind. Here’s my confusing formula for you science types:

“Now” = what is, what’s gone and what’s going to be. It’s a triplicate paradox – ergo, appropriately, a “tripledox.”

To review how I got there and why that crazy logic train makes sense to me. Some days, my words refuse to connect to any discernible emotional or mind state – or anything I believe worth the investment of my time to sit down and pick up a pen and a piece of paper. As I wrote that last sentence, I realized that is the very worth my time, even if no one else ever reads what my thoughts became. And that’s not why I’m writing. In this moment when the past present and future dance together forever entangled in an infinite ring, what I write becomes very important. Not necessarily to you the reader. (If it does, how Cool is that? We connected.) I write for my physical, spiritual, and mental health.

My connection of mind to pen and paper help me plough through the work I must do to live. And it’s all work right now. I wish I could say differently. But this as all things must pass. Like a fart. Or a tailgating asshole. Or depression. Or bad weather.

And with that, I loathe waking up sometimes. You mean…Princess Positive? Miss Merrymaker? Lady Laughsalot? Moi?

Even hypocritical me. I get so angry I just want to fall off the flat earth and pound hard on the door of the universe – I bet Monty Hall answers and asks me about which door I choose. I say “all three” because you can do what you want in alternate dimensions. Or just because I want to see silver taffeta curtains opening like birthday gifts in my next reality tunnel where I win lunch with Douglas Adams, Dick Feynman, along a three piece lounge set from mid-century modern Michigan circa 1950. Did I digress? Yup. Sorry. And no the women I’d want to lunch with us remain with us. Diverse dream meals-r-us.

In the past 48 hours…

I’ve thrown up, thrown upset crying fits, tossed annoyed looks at The C. Twisted myself emotionally, felt alone, experienced the panic of financially worry about my healthcare, and I can’t get any good deli anywhere in San Jose. But this, too, shall pass. I realize I am where I am because I must be here. And there’s no way to go it alone given the stress of a change of residence and my enemy, thy name is stress. See, I’m dealing with this fucking liver metastasis at the moment. My veins and arteries have no blood count, and my bones work overtime at night so I can’t sleep. I have no appetite, no energy. No visitors. No shit. Lost 25 lbs. not a recommended diet, kids. I’ve had a bad week. It’s hard saying goodbye to everyone and everything all the time. But I can’t linger in this space much longer.

Open all three doors, or Monty gets it – and I’m not in the mood to make a deal. But I will say with the saccharine sweetness of a diabetic candy and the artifice of the broiled roast chicken brown skin from a tanning bed light, you’ll want to go plant wild flowers and kiss your loved ones all on the forehead, and hug your annoyed cat. Or slobbering dog, if your so inclined.

P.S. Another tale of opinions pissing on the heads of others: It would have been my mother’s birthday on the 31st. I wasn’t given any chance at closure because my aunt and brother decided I didn’t get to say goodbye to Elaine Rothman Kaminsky Tramonte. So laughs on them, she’s not gone to me. She’s around telling me I look fine stop worrying, wiping my face with a wet index finger (eww), hugging me, telling me how I’m her beautiful girl. How proud she is of me. And for all the shit our lives dumped in our laps, she was my mother. She loves me. I’m her first born, her daughter. Because they didn’t want me to upset her. How do you keep a child away from a parent, even as she aged I was still her angel, her shayna maydelah, Esther Williams, “mouth”, and the other 100 nick names she bestowed upon me – and she was my mammelah, mah, mom, mommie, my mom.

Flawed. Forever part of me. Forget? Never.

It is what it is, huh?

If “it is what it is,” why is it so the collateral damage of metastatic cancer so fucking hard?

Why is it okay to break promises to me?

Why is it so painful to look at the shattering of once solid love?

Why is it okay for me to take handfuls of pills but it’s not okay for you to take one?

Why did I think it was a good idea to give away all my strength?

Why did it fail me to believe when it came down to it?

Why is it you can’t put your paranoia away for one day and help me live?

Why is it impossible to find my fight today?

Why is it okay for my needs not to matter?

How is it possible for you to listen silently while you hear me cry?

Why was it okay for me to be a day late to get the assist I needed to save my life?

Why is it okay for a copayment for chemotherapy to be greater than an entire months disability check?

Why is it okay to see that my life is slipping away?

It isn’t what my it is.

Why isn’t loyalty, isn’t love, isn’t commitment, isn’t kindness, and isn’t believing in the human spirit – why aren’t these its the “it is what it is?” It is what “it is is always negative.” Why?

Fuck it.

Whatever it is.

Eventide

Riding passenger side snapping right,
I’m down in front stealing long exposures.
From the back seat our youth sits
Mocking us with instant polaroids.
Destroyed pictures of minutes and memory
Precious and precarious slip a stone
At once here and at once gone.
Right under the driver breaks hard and higher
Up another mile, silently stealing all we pass.
As if it meant nothing, had no value.
Yet we never stop to salute the flowers –
All wilds and yellows and purples.
The foothills’ shoulders grow peonies
Upon sunshine golden with military ranks.

How jagged time?
We spend ours climbing again as
Eventide approaches us.
Stealing the light
Squinting and teasing Every photographer’s eye.
The lens escapes the fight as fists fly
Above us rung the first punch
Headliners: the over-real versus the unbelievable.
Then we drop down tearing around
The Summit dragging the day with us.
With us flat then right over on the side.
Buckshot sprays whitetail from
Underneath the wheels,
My skin and bones chill fast underneath
Blankets just a quarter mile thin –
Count the microclimates in a 14 mile exposure.
My imagined assignment, anyway.

Inertia now driving our ascension
Finally dousing my focus.
Yet I am pacified by
Deep coastal royal blue velvet,
And by the courtly cape
Of dense silver fog.
Trees, reach in and take my attention
Lost in the sky and yet at home.
Away with the little brick foxes
Already started by the drooling hounds,
Running in distant golden broken lines
Shrinking to a pointed index
Finger of bent redwood lumber.
Penciled between the knotted trees
Escaping our eyes
They write letters to us
To one another, to anyone.
I imagine the trees alone love themselves.
Writing in dead languages those
Modern towers of Babylon
Without oral tradition
No monks or followers to take dictation
The mighty ones tie rings around
Paper and papyrus of their own making.
They, like me, can write their own stories.

Distant deamons dance to the music of the eventide,
Whose eardrums thump and pop from slight descents.
Mercies clear the stares and the macabre glances.
And up ahead the night hides just around
The voluptuous Earth’s curves.
Yet she shakes off the road upon her hip
Langushing and lounging
Laughing at all the forsaken highways.

You snap me awake.
My hypnotic state undone
By our quick duel and I, only me –
I roll one window down
With enough sense to know
The party orange of evening presents
A moment for exposure
Showing the night undone
By the simplest flash
As we find a space and stall the motor,
King and queen of the hills
Announced by snare drums and trumpets.
Goodbye, twisted bruised skin of eventide.
Eventide, goodbye.

And now, Ms. Cancer and Mr. Depression

How does one learn to reason with depression? I’d like to share with you a story about a confused partner who, after the passing of her arbitrary three-year deadline, falls into the rabbit hole and finds herself staring at a 40-car pile up and the unenviable clean up of the bloody aftermath. She unreasonably and unfortunately becomes inconsolable with wave after wave of false accusations hurled from across a house she lives in with this depressed man who she no longer knows, or even knows what she feels for him anymore.

Don’t take the bait. Walk away. Leave. For an hour, a week, or…

If it were only that easy. You know who you are – partners of the dysfunctional. But add a little metastatic cancer to the mix…my shoulders are killing me under the weight of it all. I’m sorry if I come across as confusing, but this whole crazy dysthymic depression without an end in sight is confusing.

I’ve finally helped him to treatment. We, well more like he, vomited the angry bitter disgust of a man who simply wanted to raise his two sons across a 2.5 hour session of exhausting couples counseling with my psychologist. She, by the way had breast cancer, can provide him with a helpful view from within should he inquire. He spilled tears and guts for 95% of the session, at the end of which I said he may be better off getting a bit of help for himself or I didn’t feel we’d make the progress we’d hoped for. He immediately went on the defense and the doctor came to mine and remarked, can’t you see she’s very concerned and wants to reconvene when you’ve gotten through a bit of your own healing? He could not disagree.

I’ve read countless books on the topic. NAMI.org is a web site full of great information for you as a depressive’s care giver. All very helpful.

Here’s a few titles available on Amazon and through kindle to keep the costs down:

Talking to Depression: Simple Ways To Connect When Someone In Your Life Is Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002DYMB1M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_OPHwAbK3Z6EC

Depression Fallout: The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0012GTZBG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_ZQHwAbH1P5EGN

When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect with Your Partner When You’re Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HZ9SA92/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_tRHwAb7H1451X

When Someone You Love is Depressed https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H0IGJIQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_TRHwAbDTCFKWT

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FC0Q0C/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_m3HwAbA93R7H9

The confusing days in the life….

When he asked me what time it was I was holding a stack of books and I said that it’s not too late just a second to look at my watch and this was what caused tonight’s major smack down. He’s called me a bitch for two days, running tests to see how I’m going to react to his nasty new nomenclature for me, similar to a teenager cursing in front of his parents. Yet I embarrassed him.

Apparently I’m the one who needs hospitalization and help and that he, “knows what’s going on here.” I ruin everything night after night with my “selfish shit” and do my own thing. My Etsy online shop and writing are more important to me than having a good relationship with him. Yet, it’s all I can do to keep from losing my own mind to the loneliness and isolation of cancer.

I’m somehow playing a game with him and somehow it’s my fault; apparently I’m the root cause of his problems. I tell him that nearly every night he’s laid here leaving me alone and now he’s saying that’s not true that I’m the one who has ignored him. A new critique appears in the repertoire: I’m an Intellectual bully and he does not want to be a victim anymore. Too embarrassed to even suggest anything resembling sex to him anymore, he’s barked back, “the only thing you’re even interested in is sex.”

No, I’m interested in happiness and I love him enough to stay. He also knows I’ve not the physical or financial resources to leave. There’s days when his light comes on and his blue eyes sparkle and shine like two stars in the sky. Come on you, just wake up and shine with me for a little while and let’s shut this nightmare down. It’s never very much about sex, is it. Love in all its permutations requires a cooperation of high and low and mid range notes all beating in time to the same heart. Does cancer extract my heart from my body for study by science and remain in a clear beaker on a dusty shelf behind an outdated computer book from 1999? No, not this time.

He said he wants me here and he loves me, but answers in vagaries when I ask for examples or specifics. As he retorts, more vague statements such as how I always criticize him. I never say anything positive. All he does is help me but I do not let him help me. Each and every time I ask for his help he’s got more important things to do, ignores me, or just sleeps the day away. My very favorite tactical maneuver is to keep me quiet by calling me a nag. I “nag nag nag all the time.” He said he gave himself up and he made that mistake because he thought it was the right thing to do for me. However it cannot possibly be true since I’m not worth it. At least not according to the oxymoronic verbal diarrhea spewing at me night and day.

I ask him what he means by anything he says, yet he won’t tell me. He said he misses himself more then I can ever miss him. This is a wonder because I’ve been mourning him for over three years. I am being crushed under the weight of his depression. My loneliness and frustration are at an all time high. He is starting to tell me how he can’t get anything from me, I have nothing he wants or anything that is valuable to gain from me. He gives, all he does is give and I cannot give anything worthwhile to the relationship so why don’t I just stop fucking up a good thing and just shut up?

Okay.

Florida, State Your Name

You carry our secrets whispered into cardboard boxes tied tight with candycane twine
(That kind you find in old-time kosher bakeries.)
Tall cakes topped with buttercream flowers in new-fatigue green and suburban-Mustang blue whose
Stemless petals rise above yellow spongey layers with strawberries.
Pure as curbside snow. Pure as little girls with pinch pink cheeks.
Too early for my birthday the trail of a mistake runs upstairs from cheap paper doilies.
Pin striped suit coat and sea glass blue shirttails waving gooodbye, or hello,
(I never knew the difference.)
My hair twisted into a gilded fist as you push my resistance down,
Down into the drowned warped boards.
Raising my right hand, I swear you found a pushover:
A raggedy doll tape and bubble gum, of bare burlap, plaid, and buttons, of red yarn
Covering my torn skin where I stitch myself up and over
(And over to hold myself in again.)
A stray calico cat sits in the window right above your shoulder, startled by your loud heart.
I can still hear you slapping your thigh and then,
Distant laughter cries at your day-old jokes jokes and overtold stories.
Your hysterical, foul, scorn defers a look at me.
I hated you for that minute, then carrying on again I forget you already told me.

My face looks tired, uncooked, undone.
While white hot light sheds the palmetto scrub
Covering the non-natives invading our country- bright boisterously green parrots.
Which fly in on an uncommon flight schedule,
Catching a torrent of wind the turkey vultures wind into a tornado
Turning up higher and faster into the late afternoon rain.
Here, every shower comes in on time right at four.
Bursting open ladies with umbrellas, with daisy dresses, tulip capris, white rose tanks,
Waltzing by the front porch screen doors squeaking,
Slippery dimpled thighs sing together,
All sweet, easy, glide by leaving their perfume behind.
Then zipped into black patent leather hand bags powders, compacts,
Glossy rippled heat waves us in on a 45 degree right angle sun ray.
Show up the hidden mildewed sinews of ductwork,
And the hum of air conditioners masking our words.
Slowly dripping outside busy windows pelted by huge mosquitoes,
Or rain?
(Probably rain cries outside)
Only two minutes, like soft boiled eggs on timers,
Now done cooking. Her eyelashes, false
Newly bred widows sit with spidery eyes,
Single fingers silently making reservations for you.
They reapply the glue, so unkind, that damned humidity.

Never, never, never give up.*

Christmas 2017

In the spirit of enjoying my newly found power of living in the now, and not over thinking my tasks or decisions too much, I find a listing worthy of our time and  instead of sitting home asking what to do and not doing much together, we decide it may be fun to head out to see a film. We drop our imaginary swords after a weekend of tension and melancholy leading up to today, Christmas Day.  After purchasing our tickets online, we slipped out of the garage with plenty of time to spare and without the usual tension causing any arguments. So without a hitch, we went out with a playful, familiar affection for one another.

I didn’t allow myself to over think what needed doing, and it all got done. I found myself grateful and comfortable as we drove the quiet holiday road, listening to Mozart. I am more home focused  these days as my current course of chemotherapy has caused my blood cell counts to decline. Compounding this, The C suffers from depression thats holds him locked in our house nearly  every day, sleeping more than he’s awake.

But tonight once he finished dressing, he smelled clean and crisp and looked really handsome and I told him so.  With patience he waited for me downstairs while I took a deliciously steamy hot shower, one of life’s little delicacies and a major privilege of living in a first world country. I dressed up a little bit for him, but for myself mostly.  As someone with gender altering breast cancer, I recommend it highly. If you don’t really feel like getting out into the public, dressing up and putting on a little makeup can help your inside rise to the occasion outside.  It doesn’t hurt, whether you have hair or not, gained or lost weight, became flat chested or had reconstruction, try it. I find needed confidence and The C says, babe, you look really hot. Grin. Blush. He playfully, but gently so as not to mar my transluscent skin, pinches my ass and impish grins and says, what? as I squeal “oh, don’t!” And we get moving to the film.

The Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman, who by the way OWNED the role of Churchill, engaged us from beginning to closing credits. Big new bonus feature, there’s now reserved seating recliners to kick back and put your feet up in, leather ones, too.  My inner marketeer assumes this phenomenon arose from a study about what makes people stay home instead of going to the theater to see a film. My conjecture: the study found people dreaded mortgage size snack bills and horribly unsanitary cloth-covered, ass numbing seating, originally designed for the Spanish Inquisition’s torture chambers. I can just see the PowerPoint presentation designed to sell the plush, button operated gluteus maxims warming cuddle machines to the theater chains’ operations management. (PowerPoint brain IS akin to chemo brain. I suffered both and the similarities are uncanny.)

Anyway,  The Darkest Hour covers Winston Churchill’s first month to his wartime appointed Prime Ministership governing Great Britain. He’s refused to lead his nation into a seriously precarious position of becoming like France in an act tantamount to surrender. Indeed, he would have accepted this fate had he allowed former PM and war cabinet member Chamberlain’s cowardly and first choice for the prime ministership, Lord Havilland to drive a country into a state that neither man was strong enough to lead. It turns out Chamberlain had only months to live having been diagnosed with cancer.  Me. Havilland drove his agenda as well as the King’s and persuaded Churchill to allow a seat at a table for one, at the so-called peace treaty with Hitler via Mussolini. History would be changed forever, and for not only Great Britain, but for all of Europe. There’s a surprise mini arc in the action that I’ll not give away but you’ll know why if you see the film.

Prime Minister Mr. Churchill, ravaged by lack of sleep and terrible indecision, finds himself unable to conjure the words for a speech he must deliver to the House of Commons regarding the decision to fight or to act with cowardice and surrender.  In an impulsive move, he leaves his chauffeured car running into the station and takes a train, something he’s never done, to Westminster and goes, so to speak underground. There he finds strength through listening to people’s emotional cries of “victory!” in the train car. Men and women who rightly are stunned by the presence of the PM and who represent a cross section of his constituency. Churchill initially went underground looking for a match to light his cigar, but emerged into the rainy day not only with the light for his oral fixation secured but enlightenment for his immanent oration. He finds answers he needs in that moment without over thinking his decision, in the hearts and minds of his beloved nation’s people.

I won’t spoil the ending, but we all know how the US for five long years allowed the punishing of our strongest world ally. Roosevelt got the blinders off very late in the war. Yet Churchill gave many European people hope for a future not ruled by tyrants. Without the navy but with his inspiration his ability to launch an entire force of civilian boats, to rescue 300,000 troops – the entire British military force stranded on the coast of France – waiting for help from across the English Channel.  Those boats were not captained by soldiers, but by regular people brought together, finding strength and bravery from deep inside their hearts and souls. Such bravery exhibited on so many levels boggles the mind and I need more time to digest the strength employed by everyone involved from the King of England, to Churchill, to his wife, to his supporters, and to the boats men living up above the White Cliffs of Dover.

I get chills thinking of the scene. It’s not a film full of CGI or big blasts or comic superheroes or special effects. It’s all in a short time with small spaces containing big exhibits of strength and bravery. Churchill knew that bravery comes not only from a wellspring inside, but from the community with whom we share a common connection. In his case the whole of Britain, in my case a small subset of the blogosphere. 

I know I represent a small subset who communicate via blogs. Here I find the brave and the vulnerable and in turn, this frees me to shed my own fears.  When someone stumbles into a post or poem of mine, and finds my “confessions” supportive,  the support I need comes easily.

At the beginning of this circuitous confessional, I found strong brave ties to a man I never knew. My relatives emigrated to the United States via Ellis Island in New York.  I am here because my great grandparents had the forethought to safely move our families out of the USSR, away from the tyranny that would slaughter Jews by the hundreds of thousands. Because of their courage I never will know  the atrocities of a true bloody ground fought war on a grand scale or the ensuing post traumatic stress disorder of an entire nation.

But we all fight our own wars don’t we?

I feel like my body is a country, my cancer, Stalin and  Hitler (Shitler?), the ground troops like my immune system, and my spirit like Churchill himself. Never, never, never give up. Victory is the only option, cried Churchill to the House of Commons that afternoon. From that scene on a wide screen was another brave heart who imbued in my spirit the strength of the lion himself long gone to find the One universal truth. He showed us the wisdom to listen, not just orate beautiful monologues that drown out the strength of other men and women, be they big public figures or new mothers with babies or blue-collar bricklayers from London.

Or even the small voice of a blogger in Silicon Valley, echoing words into the great web of the unknown. Too much drama? Nah, #fuckcancer.

Shadow Dancing

Until the day comes when my breath no longer returns from the night,
Now visible from my lungs, vapor trails hang frozen in the wintry air —
Then if my labored lungs must remain longer, I remain.
When the last black bloom of your want wilts and waivers again,
And my secret history garden fades into the night like dreamers in the shallows,
Tumbling (at the seashore, swept up with any undelivered moonlight)
Until my breathlessness sheds the air’s sour taste,
Returning me to the source of persistent music and its instruments
Tuned by invisible, merciless hands.
Voices sweet like memories singing,
Louder than every sound ever heard all together at one time,
To drown out my questions,
Your ciphers long forgotten yet tested for time
To the unknown names of every crime.
Yet to ask from nowhere, I insist —
There, how effortlessly you knew when I waited until the day turned and left.
(You cannot say the name “Forever” again.)

While my words waltz to the end of time,
Dancing to a rolling lento drum,
I sent you a present, a tune wrapped up
With yesterday’s news knotted in pale silken twine – please
Right here in black and white, look at it.
How do you refute indisputable lines?
(Though now every last bite of it tastes rotten and bitter…)
Untie the infinite ribbons of light opening my hands, lost in midair
Drink deep from the water of my solace,
As it drips with words from my lips
To quench the ache of every moment:
Find a small skeleton key in my laced fingers,
Weakened from solving all history’s lessons.
As a body folds in on itself
It holds faster, together.
(We question the answers and quickly bury our words.)

Maybe next year we can awaken the annuals again.
The stuff of sudden daydreams —
You falling into the arms of the air,
I sit and wait although not selfish with my hope,
Yet this alone drives me home again.
(If cure becomes your solitude, then shame reminds you of my defeat.)
As the truth emerges, lighting dim violet walls,
Our bedroom shadows sway dancing, slowly.
As I sing softly in the key of grace,
Hold on to me so that I may keep you still
And reach gently into your memory’s halls.
Your open windows – please,
(Tonight unlatched, just this once I may return unharmed.)

Now, go back to sleep, stay still unmoved until
Morning as its long fingers find your cold cheeks.
Starting you awake once more,
By hearing some faint distant laughter you think,
“I know her.”
And you may possibly recognize my voice like notes of an opera,
(Now impossible to discern my spirit, ascending towards starlight and mournings bright sun)
No one takes anybody or a thing into the ever-years aspired,
And where the memory serves no use, we lose our hearts and fears.
And though we know the futility of life’s take, we all roll at once and descend to die trying.

Foresting

I drift down, into the needle
Bed, and dream of spiraling pine
Cones. Yet again, I find a broken
Offer instead, because the forest
Only knows honesty. Lying
Gently in my hands, I cup
(Like my heart) a broken shell.
A deserted robin’s egg, hatched
Speckled turquoise, open,
Fallen from branches, a cradle
Rocked by the wind’s hands
From the green canopy above.
(Like love) I listen for anything
Hungry. Hoping to hear frantic,
Open red beaks. Tiny beggars’
Purses, singing safe and
Sound. Napped, maybe stolen,
Straight out of the blue?
(Like a thief) A prowler,
Spiriting away to the hills,
Ducks into a fox’s den:
Just a stone cold hole,
No longer vacant or available.

(Cracked like an egg, now
even I cannot afford emptiness.)

Canferatu, The Monster at My Door

WARNING: I’m going to bitch a little. Maybe a lot. I admit, I’m in pain of several kinds and with facing #chemotherapy again, and the evacuation of a total of 10 liters of ascites  fluid from my abdomen adding 20lbs to my stomach and causing my body not only discomfort but all kinds of fun side effects including severe constipation. Ascites meanders through the abdominal cavities, which fill up with the remains of a body’s lubrication in the peritoneum, leaving less room for the organs including the intestines. See the container of yellowish fluid above? That’s one of four two-liter bottles removed from my big round belly three weeks ago. Additionally, I had four and a half more liters removed yesterday.

My body had enough room for food for first time in three weeks, long past a bad case of being “hangry” (hungry-angry). My prescious neighbor and dear friend Lisa, made me simple soup of chicken broth and won tons. The hunger with which I ate it rivaled Henry VIII mauling a turkey leg as he’s so often portrayed. I’m feeling like total shit right now, no pun intended. I feel physically and emotionally wrung out. I appreciate your patience and please know I do not mean to condescend: I’m just kick off my big girl shoes and put on my fuzzy slippers and whine.

#Stage4cancer brings to mind a place a B movie might portray, as you’ve probably noted in some of my other pity party posts. In my latest film, my 1960s MST3K worthy vampire hell ride, Canferatu. Canferatu is an inescapable, slow yet fast paced vampiric monster approaching magically everywhere I turn. Chills run down my spine as I hear the ugly abhorrent thing rapping, scraping on my door. I realize it’s only the wind picking up, frightening me as a tree branch runs its claws along the windows of my imagination,

Am I dreaming in color of the darkest places my consciousness has to offer on tonight’s mind menu? No. No horror film, no inadvertent wind blown tree debris, and definitely not a B movie. Reality sets in at some point between, “are you fucking kidding me?” and the desert test of an atom bomb blowing up underground and taking out a life I once knew. A life defined. One with possibilities of working full time, seeing friends, hearing from family, trips and travel, and a whole lotta love. As unsalvageable though your existence may feel at this very moment – if you don’t have stage 4 cancer consider all systems pretty good, if not fantastic!

I feel awful when I can’t feel much empathy for people with controllable, curable diseases who do nothing to seek out readily available medical attention. Even when the hands of help reach out to them to provide everything they require to find a healthy self, they choose to lie down in puddles of self created doom and pity. As I approach the diagnosis’ three year mark at stage four, I become more hardened to their plights. An empath, I know that their pain is very real pain. I know it’s as real as the device you’re reading my post on, yet I see possibility and hope. Depression and anxiety sufferers see darkness visible. As I scratch and scrape to stay alive and keep Canferatu from sucking me dry, my partner has the audacity to pull at my heels and bring me tumbling down with him into the black box he lives in day after day. And night after night without so much as a kiss or a hug anymore.

It all feels so very unfair. I want to make it all just stop because this simply cannot be real. Like Canferatu. What kind of unique inequity caused these circumstances in which I face my end of life head on while he faces his future head down? For three solid years, I represent the root cause of every single one of his problems. These days I’m overly embarrassed to even suggest sexuality as a topic to discuss. Who would embark on a talk to let him know how I don’t want my end of days bereft of human touch?

When my psyche owns up to having grace enough to know when to get off this crazy thing, I will, but I love him enough to have hope and to stay.

There’s days when his light comes on and his blue eyes sparkle and shine like two stars in the sky. Come on you, just wake up and shine with me for a little while and let’s shut this nightmare down. Coupling up begins, but never ends, with sex. Love in all its permutations requires an orchestration of high and low and mid range notes all syncopated in time, day in and day out. However, there’s a time not too far away when the cortisol highway in my body caused by the stress of this heinous cloud raining down on us both will end, as highways all must. I’ll have to leave him sitting here alone. If he refuses to seek help he so desperately needs much longer, I’ll miss him, and I wonder if that heartbreak is enough to cause a whole new cortisol highway to open up, allowing my cancer to take me over and cause a horrible, unintended wreck.

Does cancer extract my heart from my body for study by science and remain in a clear beaker like the one holding the ascites on some dusty shelf behind an outdated computer book from 1999? My loneliness and frustration are at an all time high. Can you tell? No, I have nothing he can gain from and to his mind, all he does is give and I cannot bring anything worthwhile to the relationship anymore, so why don’t I stop fucking up a good thing and just shut up?

Okay.