The last post I wrote here was called. “The Case Against Using Your Blog as a Journal”. It’s a piece meant for writers, warning them against publishing what amounts to first drafts, but the title is coming back to haunt me now. I’m about to use my blog as a journal.
I can’t get away from it–something has happened that will change my life forever: I am now among the multitudes of women who have had a mastectomy. It’s new and I’m still trying to get used to it. The stitches and drains are still in and I spend at least 10 minutes crying every day (I’m blaming it on hormones throwing tantrums over being tossed into utter chaos).
But what surprises me most is that for much of the day my life is as ordinary as it ever was. It goes on. I can laugh, I can find joy in the little things, I can make beds and mop floors. I can marvel at the latest treasures at the art museum. I can still be mad as hell that a major doofus like Donald Trump is now the President of the United States.
None of that has changed. But I have. I know it and I can’t go back.
Once I heal I’ll have chemo and then radiation. This is not a short-term gig. It’s not what I asked for and, until a couple of months ago, it’s not something I’ve ever even consciously thought about. I’ve been relatively healthy for a 79-year-old. That, I’m told, will go in my favor, but nobody is saying, “You’ll go on to live a good, long life”. In their eyes I’ve already lived a good long life. (Insert laughter here.)
I have lived a good long life and much of it was and is made infinitely better by reading and writing, by observing and putting thoughts into sentences and then on paper. (We oldsters, hanging on for dear life in an increasingly alien cyber-century, still quaintly say it that way: “Putting words on paper”. Something deliciously satisfying about it. You can’t take it away from us. Don’t even try.)
I have spent much of the past eight years publicly fussing over politics. I allowed it to become who I was, thinking–foolishly, it turns out–that I might say something someday that would make a difference. Something that would keep us from the ludicrous reality we now find ourselves experiencing here in the United States. Something so powerful maybe the very earth would tilt on its very axis. (Insert exclamations!)
It wasn’t a complete waste of time. I like doing it, and that says something. I’m working on taking my political blog in a different direction, but for now it’ll stay. I need it, too.
But here. . .here I want to be myself. I don’t want to write about medical stuff as much as I want to write about what life feels like now that it has shown itself to be vulnerable. Cancer is the universal unifier. We’ve all been touched in one way or another by cancer, either in our own lives or in the lives of others we care about. It’s so common it’s no longer called the “C” word. We spell it out now. Cancer. I don’t wish to diminish the impact it makes on our lives but I also don’t want to allow it to take over. That would be awful.
I want to look outside all this and see what I can see, now that I’m looking at the world through different lenses.
So here I go.