I’m still waiting on a surgical appointment. They didn’t get a negative margin on the mass. That means another surgery. A sequel. I’m calling it “Return to the Eye”. Or “Total Eyeball”. Or “Eye Know What You Did Last Surgery”.* Since I have to have another surgery my medical appointment was rescheduled. So I haven’t seen a doctor yet. Or had a Pet Scan or a CT.
I’m trying to remain calm, but as someone who spent the last year learning about disease processes, I’m struggling. My dad suggested I take the weekend off. Spend time with my family, enjoy myself. It’s great advice, but suddenly everyone’s comments make it sound like I might be dying. (Possibly, because I might be dying.) So I turned to Google.
I typed in coping strategies for major illnesses. There were some that made sense. Some incredibly obvious and some too strange to try. I picked four and followed them.
1. Start a garden.
I started a tiny herb garden indoors since Dexter enjoys claiming any and all new flora in the backyard. I read somewhere that talking to plants was good for them (and you) because of the carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange. Every conversation we’ve had so far has ended with me yelling “I need to see a doctor.”
2. Spend time with people you love
Lena and I made bird seed ornaments for the trees outside. She likes animals and since Darryl wouldn’t let me put a brisket in the backyard for a coyote and prairie dogs have the Bubonic plague we settled on birds. We hung them up and spent the morning watching two robins flit around and scare off doves waiting patiently in the trees.
3. Research proactively
On Saturday I spent 2 hours researching pepperoni and its link to cancer. Mostly, because I wanted pizza rolls from Double Daves and I thought I read somewhere there was a link. Turns out yes, there is a link between nitrates and cancer in animals. Should you stop eating pepperoni? Up to you. Should you stop eating pepperoni if you were recently diagnosed with an exceptionally rare eye cancer? Yeah, I’m going to. The good news is my latest hobby of binge reading scary quasi-scientific literature has been motivating me to eat better. I also spent the better part of an hour researching cryogenically freezing one’s head just in case there had been and progress made in the field. Headway?
4. Engage in activities you enjoy
I like sewing things for my daughter. I usually make my own patterns but I felt I needed something faster. I found a post on Pinterest for a doll made on Martha Stewart’s show called a Black Apple Doll. The doll turned out cute but I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, the whole project was rushed. I could feel myself rushing.
The doll was so important to get done because I wanted Lena to have it. Not because she needed another toy. But because I needed her to have it. My most selfish fear throughout this whole ordeal, if this is worse-case-scenario and I’m not around much longer, comes as a question:
Will she remember me?
Will she remember the bird feeders and playing in the snow? Will she remember reading stories? Or sitting on the counter cooking? Will she remember painting Valentines for Daddy? Or jumping onto the piles as I folded clothes? The truth is – probably not. Not because I’ve done something wrong. Not because she wouldn’t want to. She would’t remember me because she’s 17 months old. If I were to disappear from her life at this very moment ten years from now she’d hardly know. Maybe she’d have a vague recollection of a scent or fleeting image tucked away in her subconscious, but she wouldn’t remember me. And I am infinitely sad for this in the most selfish of ways. I want to be remembered, I’m sure everyone does, but mostly I want to be remembered by her.
So I cried a little at my sewing machine, and I finished the doll. It was already past her bedtime but I could hear her in the other room “talking” to her Daddy. I gave her the doll. (A “bay-bee.”) She loved it and I did too, because it was one more little piece she’d have. A hopeful trigger for a forgotten memory.
You could say I spent the weekend “coping”. But truly I had already started. Writing is coping for me. It’s a dream I’ve pushed to the back burner as life has gotten more and more in the way. It’s funny all the things you have to do and how quickly those same things fall away when you are staring at an eternity. Writing’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. If that’s a year or five or fifty. For me coping doesn’t mean giving up. It doesn’t mean not fighting. It means finding away to live through what’s happening. A way of surviving it. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Survive, and survive beautifully. (Except on Sunday’s. Sunday’s are pajama day.)