Later, I will meet with a doctor who I have never met before. I imagine us being introduced in a social context and consider the surreal nature of his request that I take down my gown, so he can examine my breast, within one minute of meeting me. Noticing my book, he asks about it. I wonder if he really wants to know and whether I should try to explain. He listens awkwardly as I tell him about the memoir, a story of a Stanford Medical School doctor and his attempt to integrate Native American healing techniques with western medicine. He flashes a smile at me as if we are speed dating and responds with disinterest.
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Entries by Meghan
My friend leaves me there and rushes home. I imagine her driving along steep and winding roads at a fast clip, intent on relieving my suffering. She returns with a tall, orange container filled with pills wrapped in silver packaging. I separate a couple capsules at the perforated edges and think about how despite our shared place in the same ditch, here she is shoveling me out. Later, the on-call doctor encourages me to take her medicine, and I marvel at the malleability of rules when compassion is at play.
My first awareness of a return to consciousness is a swell of nausea coupled with big, wet tears pouring down my cheeks and a small sob caught in my throat. Like the rebound from a hard, double-bounce on a ping-pong ball I reenter the world, slammed back in like a rag doll. My eyes resist opening, and I am perplexed as I swim around an odd interior, spinning with darkness and the presence of this unexpected, emotional release. One of the nurses says to another, they did a lot in there, as an explanation for my blubbering. I can’t quite put my finger on what I’m feeling. If I had to name it, I’d call it grief.
Even despite my previous emotion, I didn’t expect my heart to contract so mightily when the music began. If cancer does one thing, it frames your life. It reminds you that time is fleeting and all we really have are individual moments in which to see people, exactly as they are. It also shows you how you can endure way-more than you think you can.
We were acquainted from the previous biopsy and she greeted me warmly then quickly switched gears, detailing her plan to the others. She was like a sergeant barking out orders, only kinder and with an upbeat energy. There was a lot to be accomplished. She had a commanding voice and presence I might have once found off-putting. I might have read her as brash or overconfident. I understand better now about what it takes. I understand about how many ways women have been taught to shrink and to be quiet, to dim what allows us to make a needed contribution in a flailing world. I could recognize in her the many layers that must exist in order to demonstrate so much skill under the weight of responsibility with alternating humor and seriousness.
I listened to everything being said, and yet, it registered as if it were happening to someone else. The size of the tumor was being described, and the grade. I suddenly became privy to things like proliferation index and types of receptors as indicators for treatment. I held the phone between my head and shoulder, which I have never been very good at, and began typing into my computer. I titled the page breast cancer and put words and actions to the page I had no interest in ever impressing upon my body.
The house is finally still after a whirlwind of overlapping encounters with winter’s harshest microbes and all that is intrinsic to the human condition. Some of it is beautiful and golden, like a painted sunrise. Some of it throbs and pulls at the heart like punch in the jaw. All of it threads together the remarkable narrative of a strange and sometimes-conscious species.
Each time I see them I think about the salt air and seaweed perfume, the sitting on the edge of a boat at dawn and dusk taking in the vast Maine sky. I imagine their weathered hands and wonder if our spines are made from the same fibers—mine seeming somehow not as sturdy despite my attempts at affirming it otherwise.
*This is the 4th (and final) installation in a series of posts. If you missed the first, you can find it here and follow along with each subsequent post. I’ve been slightly delayed getting winter tires onto my car this year—one blustery storm already gone past presenting Jonah with a premature opportunity to inquire about sleeping […]
*This is the 3rd installation in a series of posts. If you missed the first, you can find it here and the second can be found here. The drive from Dallas to Houston on I-45 is long with stretches of road in ill-repair—narrow where under-construction—and lined with ranches as evidenced by sprawling pastures and tall, […]
*This is the 2nd installation in a series of posts. If you missed the first, you can find it here. I was on a high from a stretch of days at beaches near-and-far—channeling Jonah and Adrian’s end-of-summer animations away from each other and out into the ethers in places where the sky was vast, the […]
There are very few shopping malls or large-chain book stores in the state of Maine. I prefer it this way—for the forests where I yearn to wander to remain sprawling, and the shops less-plentiful. I tend to do my acquiring locally where the parking is limited and the offerings distilled. The one exception being LL […]
The sky is rumbling—ever-so-slightly and then boorishly—a steady, sonorous rain falling placidly, spread thin through lush, velvety-green, pine branches, landing upon lavender flower petals then making its way to the ground—drunk up by a thirsty earth grown parched from endless days of summer’s swelter. The resting Buddha’s chalky-white surface transforms in the garden—gradually revealing itself […]
Jonah and Adrian have been coping with the heat these last, sweltering days by spraying each other down—fully clothed—with a garden hose left out in the driveway. When water hits the blazing pavement they marvel at the steam rising-up from the surface, transfixed by the chemistry—radiating heat mingled with a cool stream. An aqua and […]
It is a cool and foggy morning in Maine—the air thick with the memory of a midnight downpour. The sudden deluge awakened me with a start—the windows open and ushering in the sound of a powerful rain that seemed to be turned on like a faucet in full-force. I had fallen asleep on my back […]
The serving plates and bowls had been washed and tucked away late into the night—hidden in narrow cabinets and sliding drawers until Thanksgiving—the list of what to buy to feed everyone slipped into the recycling bin. The stillness of the house that next early-morning had the feeling of Summer drawing-open the curtains and strolling into […]
I selected the parks option for a search on the GPS and found a match a few miles away. With too-little time to travel home and back before camp-pickup I followed a hilly, winding road to a new spot in a neighboring town where many of the homes are surrounded by enormous boulders. These mammoth rocks […]
There are four, colorful boxes of incense tucked away in the kitchen on a high shelf in the cabinet where I keep the coffee and the spring-green, leaf-shaped plates. I can just barely reach the basket where I keep them if I go up on tippy-toes and extend my arm so my shoulder rolls forward—grabbing […]
On this end-of-May, day—forty-five years ago—I arrived into the world at the tail-end of a trend of many women giving birth without dads in delivery rooms. My father was with my mother through much of her labor but then just as I was about to emerge, she was rolled away into an operating room—bright lights […]
It was Friday afternoon and I was perched at a weathered, picnic table at the top of the stairs overlooking the dock. The sun burned hot and bright—shining through the just-barely-fluttering birch leaves hanging out over the water creating a sense of transparency, like when light is diffused through kite paper. The breeze was cool […]