IMAGINE A PICTURE OF A CALENDAR HERE WITH A DATE CIRCLED IN RED. IMAGINE THE DATE IS CROSSED OUT IN BLACK. IMAGINE ANOTHER DATE CIRCLED IN RED. IMAGINE THAT ONE IS CROSSED OUT TOO. NOW IMAGINE THE NEXT DATE JUST GOT PROPOSED.
In comedy and in life it seems, the rule of three applies. We’re set for Thursday, July 29th.
I wrote a whole piece on how when I’m stressed, I do crazy things like binge watch 30 Rock, eat a whole big chocolate bar in one sitting, jump off a high dive, or decide to try one of those mechanized scooters in Washington DC. The internet ate my words.
Right now, I’m trying to cram all of summer into eight days. It isn’t that I want to seize the day, I want each day to know I throttled it, held it down for three seconds and tagged my partner to bring down a chair. Having breast cancer, having any cancer, brings with it a certain reckless craziness. It makes ice cream seem more necessary than it already was, and swimming, and stupid movies. (My youngest two are obsessed with Space Jam 2).
My son sits at the top of the stairs practicing guitar. (It’s 11:55 pm) and to me, filling the house with fragments of tunes is part of the joy of summer –I don’t want to tell him to stop because the beauty of his restless strumming is a way of snatching the time, keeping it from not being somehow weighed, measured and treasured. His younger sister sits with him, filling up sketchbook after sketchbook with illustrations. Their older brother complains. He’s been out for a seven mile run and wants to rest.
Downstairs, a daughter rehearses her dance over and over and over again. Like her brother, it is a hobby of rehearsal and refinement for her own pleasure, and it too is a way of making time fall away in favor of the experience itself. Each of them, in their own way, is trying to make time disappear because the day is coming. Each is plunging into an activity to the point of pain, for the pleasure that comes from becoming more able to plunge deeper. He needs new shoes, she wants fresh pencils, this one has callouses on his fingers, and that one, is stiff from the jumps. For me, it is in words that the world falls away. We’re all trying to run from the world that will show up next Thursday.
So when my kids asked to go to the pool, I scrambled for my swim suit. My youngest two spent the time going down the waterslide. The lifeguard gave me a look for going down four times myself but he’ll get used to it. We will go every day until we can’t, plunging into life, into time, into memory, times we can recall when I am recovering. This is the last week of before recovery, (And we want to be on the road to recovery), but it will be a while after before we will recover what will feel ordinary.
A friend called to remind me, to be willing to mourn. I’ve never been good at mourning…I’m actually terrible at it. I get busy with work or a project or a whole ton of projects, but to sit and be still with the pain, that’s really hard for me. I suspect my kids mourn in a similar fashion, throwing themselves into something where the pain is more bearable, where it has purpose.
I’ve spent the past few months talking to them about the trauma of 2020, and how we must learn the different approaches to dealing with pain, fight, flight, freeze, fawn and my proposed one, face. We use arts and sports and baking and stories to flee, or to freeze the moment. I admit, it seems like it would be easier to wait this out withdrawn, letting the world fall away, like the cancer tumors will in the surgery, like time does when we’re lost in the process of becoming better at something we love.
The swim suit won’t look good after next week…but then as I think about it, it doesn’t look that great now, it’s a means to the end of going down the water slide until the pool closes because of rain…playing until the cares of the world fall away or the rain makes us leave.
This piece doesn’t have a real ending. It’s just my reflections on where we are today and how I hope to help my children and my family discover they can weather everything. even weather. What I hope, is we come together and face each day going forward, trying to make it a date one should circle and remember.