Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Some Idle Wednesday

"Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday."

True, Mary Schmich, true. Those are lines taken from her hypothetical commencement speech, Wear Sunscreen, that was published in the Chicago Tribune in June, 1997.

It wasn't a Tuesday, but close. It was Wednesday. The chest x-ray showed a large mass in his chest. I watched as his face whitened and disappeared into some underground foxhole, as the doctor calmly explained the different types of cancer it might be, the different treatments that might be applied, and explaining that now he needed to go get additional ultrasounds, blood work and CT guided biopsies. I was trying to be his ears and eyes, because I knew this was skimming his surface. But I couldn't hear all that was being said very well either. There was a loud pounding sound making it hard to hear. I think it was both of our hearts.

Blindsided - yes and no. You know these things are coming. One day. Or another. You know it happens every day to so many people. Just not you. Or the people you love. And all of a sudden, life as you know it, is no longer anything that you've ever known. All the plans you've had get shaken out in front of you, like that party game, Total Recall, trying to remember what all was there. You frantically grab for maybe a couple of the really important pieces, because now you just know, there might not be time to get to it all. To make the plans a reality. Afraid to go forward, to see what might be up ahead, you start working backwards. In little baby steps. Looking and stepping back on wasted years, wasted relationships, wasted careers, wasted time. And it's hard not to go there, but you do know that this negative thinking will get you nowhere! Right? Yes, yes, refocus, pull it all in. Gather your courage. Soldier on. I'm mean, really, it's just life, right? Those words ring loudly now in my head. How many times have I heard that? How many times have I said that? It's just life. Like it's no big deal. But oh my, it is such a big deal.

Life - I read that without an end, life really wouldn't have any meaning. that if our lives went on forever our choices would be without ramifications, utterly without meaning; life without death would be meaningless.

So I lie next to him, in his restless sleep, and I close my eyes, clasp my hands together and go to that place where I go when there's nowhere else to go - sending out my thoughts, concerns and requests to hopefully, a God that is listening. And as I send my wimpy, apologetic airmail to the heavens, "Yes, I know, I only come here when I'm desperate, I'm sorry. But what am I supposed to think? Why would you grant me any favors? One out of three deal with this, and with all the mountains of suffering in the world, why would I be special?" I'm not. But I will try anyway to use all of my bargaining powers, this for that. A fair trade.

Then once I am sure he is in a deep sleep, I quietly sob. I know sobbing is usually a noisy affair, but I do it very quietly, under the covers, holding it in, while my body does a few convulsions rivaling that of some Russian contortionist. And then I compose myself, give God the benefit of the doubt, and hope that I might have caught him in a moment of weakness.

No country for old men (or women)