Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes I don't make a bit of sense

I haven’t disappeared, or given up blogging… but the husband’s gone back to Italy and this means two things: I am the children’s number one entertainer and my photo editor, organizer and transferer from memory card to computer is gone. Hence, no writing and certainly no photos. Alas (or thankfully, depending on the points of view) we are flying back to Italy next week and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I wrote this post last week (or the week before, have completely lost track of time) and though it is long and rambling and not completely coherent I felt bad just leaving it sitting there so am posting. So for now, I leave you with this, and I’ll be back to writing and commenting (and tweeting, pining and what have you) next week if the jet-lag and my two kids don’t kill me.

The question I hated the most at the beginning of the whole leukemia saga was “how are you?”, with the head tilt and the concerned expression. And my answer was always “fine”, because what the hell else was I supposed to say, right?
I certainly couldn’t answer: “I feel like something large and slobbery ate me, digested me and shit me out and I was just barely conscious enough to experience it all”, because, well, who wants to hear that, and what could they possibly say in return. 
After two years nobody asks me that anymore, people go on with their lives and even though the husband actually was re-diagnosed this year and had a second transplant, the news was old and trite and simply didn’t elicit the same sensationalistic reactions. Which kind of surprised me, on the one hand, because obviously with cancer if someone relapses pretty quickly after treatment the odds of them surviving kind of start going down. On the other hand, I had fewer questions to answer and fewer people to reassure and that was definitely a good thing for me.

Now, though, I’m seeing lots of people that I hadn’t seen since before the illness so the how are yous have started all over again. And this time around, with a teeny bit more maturity and distance from the fact I’ve started giving it some actual thought. How am I? The first thing that popped into my mind when I thought this was, well, I’m way better than I would be if the husband had died aren’t I? Certainly on the more positive side of the spectrum as far as possible attitudes go, but not quite comforting either.

How am I?

I’m a little sadder, generally, than I used to be. Not about anything specific, I just used to be more happy-go-lucky. I’m a little more distant I’m trying to let go of my expectations. I’ve had some disappointments, throughout these two years of the husband’s illness, from people I thought would be closer to me, from people that really should have been closer to me, but I’ve learned something very important in the process. Most of our disappointments are the result of our expectations, if we can let go of those our lives will be much easier. I hope I learn to do this in this lifetime.
I also have a more developed sense of what’s important in life. Not that I don’t often find myself wasting time and energy on futile feelings and actions but I’m learning to recognize them as unimportant, and I hope to get to the point of just letting them go (soon). 

So, how am I doing? Better than I would have thought, worst than some people think. It isn’t all water under the bridge yet, unfortunately. Every day that passes that the Husband doesn’t relapse is a good day, but we don’t know it’s a good day until it’s over. It’s like you wake up and hold part of your breath, and you hold it all day, and at the end of the day you breathe out and think phew, one day further from the transplant. Every day we’re a little more optimistic, but the illness is still very much a part of our lives. Even though the people around us forget, and thank goodness that they do, we don’t forget. Not ever.

So this makes me more emotional and I have a shorter temper especially when I see people close to me getting angry and upset over stupid little things. I want to tell them, you’re alive, you’re healthy, you’re loved, stop fucking worrying about what people think about you, or stop getting mad because that guy cut you off or who the hell cares that this or that wasn’t perfect, but this is what people do and who am I to say they shouldn’t.

I find I’ve distanced myself emotionally from many of the people I love, but that happens I think when you try and let go of your expectations. With no expectations there are no disappointments, but there’s a certain, necessary, emotional aridity that’s a direct result.

So, how am I? Well, I haven’t really figured it out yet, but at least I’ve started asking the question too, and maybe, hopefully, someday soon I’ll know and I’ll start feeling normal again. 


  1. It sounds as if maybe you might be grieving. Grieving for your husband, yes, but perhaps grieving a bit of yourself that got lost, or swallowed up, or fell away. And maybe that part left a hole, or maybe something foreign grew in its place, but either way, this whole thing has left you changed. And I suppose with the grief that attends loss, so too come anger and resentment and wishes everything could go back to normal...except now there's an entirely new kind of normal to cope with. Does that feel true to you? For all that is merciful, I hope I'm not sounding judgmental, only attempting to empathize with a situation I've never experienced, so perhaps can't quite understand in any way that is comforting to you.

    Anyway, you don't have to answer these questions. I only hope the weight of what you carry now will ease sometime soon. 

  2. "Most of our disappointments are the result of our expectations, if we can let go of those our lives will be much easier." Brilliant. True, sadly that once we stop having expectations we distance ourselves from people we love.
    This post is so honest and real, it's almost hard to read. I'm glad you wrote it though. It seems crazy to compare cancer to a deployment but lots of what you said here really hit home. Thanks for putting some of my feelings into words.

    Hugs to you friend. 

  3. Bridget shared this via Facebook. I appreciate your honesty and transparency. I hope - by sharing it - you feel a sense of support and perhaps a bit of relief? I don't know. maybe that is too much to ask.
    "How are you" is a question with a liquid response, ever changing. I suspect I'd pat myself down, making sure I had everything on my person and then respond, "Well, I'm here."
    Thank you for sharing this with us.