But not today.
Today I'm digging into a set that's become a set of ideas. On Saturday, a good friend invited me
|Trey has gotten me several of these|
small pads. I write in this every
day, multiple times.
The THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE SHIT was pretty easy when I started:
1. Lack of competence
3. Terrible mother [Me, not my Mom]
4. Trying in a terrible way to teach my class
5. Needing too much for ppl. who already have full lives.
And let's go on and share the THINGS THAT HELP ME FEEL GOOD (do you notice the titles here? "Make me" vs. "Help me"?)
1. I am writing effectively.
3. Excellent friends
4. Excellent supports
5. Having contact w/an even broader community
6. Writing for the blog (& and other things to write, like book)
7. Relation w/Brian
What do these lists mean?
As I wrote these, I went back and forth. There was no list made all together--I'd make one or two on a list, and then I'd be drawn to the other. The Shit list was pretty clear and consistent, while the Good had things that were goofy (donut) and repetitive (writing and writing). I can read the Shit list and feel painful by every item on the list. The Good makes me laugh, but I'm skeptical. Am I really writing? How am I asking my friends and family? At what point will my friends feel sorry for me, but will move on, knowing that this woman has a brain tumor that's sort to devastating and sort of release? "Needing too much for ppl. who already have full lives." Time to let me go before I've actually died?
This is not the place for you, Blog Jumper. It's not the place of kicking into gear, feeling that you must change my mind because you're sharing hope and attention and respect. I get that, and I do really appreciate that. You consistently offer this sort of affection, and I respect that--very much.
But right now I'm not asking to be saved. Right now I'm considering what it means for me to be 43, someone who's here but will die, sooner or later. Phil writes,
During your struggles with the brain tumor, have you figured this out? Have you learned how to say goodbye?
It’s a question that you shouldn’t have to face in your 40s. This may be why I can’t answer it yet, and why my 74-year-old relative can. But I know that the question confronts you, and has been confronting you, throughout your 40s. This is unfair. In fact, it’s unfair of me to expect you to have arrived at a better answer.
Powerful here. How I have "learned how to say goodbye?" "This is unfair." Yes, it's certainly unfair. But so many parts of the world in which we live are unfair. There's no clarity. I've written about this, and I'll write it again: for many people, death is so terrifying that it disappears. As Phil says, "This may be why I can't answer it yet."
Right now I'm sitting in one of my two favorite coffee shops in Charleston. I hear the sounds of people who are in and out of this place. Soon I'll grab a bagel or cookie to take to class with me so that I can keep myself energized for the evening class. Sitting at the blog, writing at the window, is ideal. Then what does it mean for me to be in a perfect afternoon and evening while I'm aware of my brain tumor? Every word that doesn't emerge correctly--it's the brain tumor (or else I identify that way, even if it's not). Things in my body will shift, and I'm worried that I'll have a seizure. The chemo medicine could bring on diarrhea--is it happening/ I'm in an incredibly pleasant afternoon, but it doesn't take away the THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE SHIT.
Here's one more thought, before I leave for class: my students and I will be talking about Harry Mcbride Johnson's book Too Late to Die Young (2005) this afternoon. She has a bunch of quotes like this one: "Mortality is something all people share, a unifying force. Every life, whether long or short, is a treasure of infinite value." Yes and no. Shit and Good. She's asking us to recognize the differences in bodies, in minds, and she encourages us to recognize that even a moment is precious. It's not devastation--it's "a treasure of infinite value."
Yes and no. Death and life. Shit and Good.