Sunday, June 1, 2014

You Go, Girl

Life isn't fair.

Oh, I know everyone's parents tell them that and it's one of those lessons we all learn as we move through life - the bottom of my world fell out when I was 29- but it's a cliche for a reason. Life's not fair.

Walking home today, I passed by a neighbor's house, a younger woman I first met when I moved to this apartment five years ago. At the time, my beagle and I took a lot of walks and often ran into her and her aged dog, so we would talk as we walked.

Once I lost my dog, I didn't see her nearly as much despite her living half a block away, so our chats were less frequent. So when I saw her doing a small repair on her porch as I walked by, I stopped to chat, asking her how she was.

"Okay for someone fixing my house so my sister can sell it after I die from this brain tumor," she answered casually. It never for a moment sounded like a joke.

At a time like that, words, my stock in trade, become irrelevant. There are no appropriate words when someone tells you that nine weeks ago a large tumor was found on her brain after she began having trouble deciphering words on the printed page.

Pulling back her hair, she showed me the large scar where 80-90% of it was removed in surgery. She's been going through radiation every weekday since.

Once she finishes that, they can better assess her prospects, which they're now guessing range from a few months to two years.

We talked about the irony of it, how well she's always taken care of herself, how fit she looks and feels. At one point, she stood up and spread her arms above her head, posing. "Crazy, right?"

Crazy, cruel, horrible, completely unjust.

I was curious if she planned to keep working and she already is, having gone back to the office a few weeks after surgery because she was antsy working at home.

Surely she planned to travel or indulge herself somehow? " I had an affair with a sheik when I was 21 and in Europe, so I think I'm good with Europe," she said by way of explanation.

Maybe a month at the beach just kicking back? The radiation treatments mean she has to avoid the sun, she said.

But surely you're going to do something to celebrate yourself, I insisted.

She told me about a guy at her office who'd recently shown an interest in her, even cutting out some bad habits at her urging.

Now they've made plans to go away next weekend and she seems really happy about that or as happy as a person can be knowing how short term her future may be.

Her grace and equanimity given the circumstances is downright inspirational and a slap on the back of the head to me to never take anything for granted.

You just never know what life will deal you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm seriously thinking about my demise quite a bit. It's part of being 60 going on 61, and that big ol' scar running down my chest. Time goes by so fast... and as a "office worker" it is easy to rush the week until Friday. Some days I'm pretty good at soaking in the moment.... some days it's Wednesday and I'll be damned if I knew what happened to Monday and Tuesday....

    You, on the other hand.... you are drinking in the days.

    Congratulations to uncorking the secret to a good life.