in the season finale of greys, everything falls apart, the situation is just unreal. meredith wants to lose her shit really bad, and christina tells her to keep it together anyway.
it’s the motto of this time for me.
it’s cervical cancer again for my aunt. they had to give her a gastric bypass to give her a way to eat since a tumor was blocking her the route from stomach to intestine. she stayed in the hospital nearly 2 weeks after that operation waiting for this new route out of her stomach to start working. it was kind of a holding pattern, maybe even a weirdly merciful way to give us time to process the idea that she’s going to die. in the hospital she could be taken care of, have the social workers talk to her about different options, give her time to decide if she’ll go back to work, retire, what will happen as far as insurance, income, life.
the first time around with cancer was incredibly difficult for my aunt. the treatments laid her out, she has different allergies to medicine, and her body heals differently than others typical heal. it was nearly unbearable for her to get through it the first time. many times over the phone or when we would visit, she would exclaim through bitter, pitiful, heart wrenching tears that she didn’t think she could do this. it was terrible to watch, i can’t imagine what it was to go through that.
at that time, i stayed drunk. i was convinced she was going to die at cancer diagnosis. my uncle, her husband, had died in 2005 after beating his own cancer. it’s not always the cancer that gets you. it’s what can happen to your weakened body and its systems afterwards. so in my consistently drunken haze i prepared melodramatically for her death. and she didn’t die. there have been a few scares since. i would get all worked up along with her. but eventually i made a decision for myself, in many areas outside of this, not to pre-mourn. just wait for the actual test results before you freak out.
the results are in, it’s time to freak out. and i allow it, at the right times. i cry like a baby sometimes. the shock is wearing off some now. i think at this point she has decided not to seek any treatment. i don’t blame her. she says the doctors must think she’s crazy, declining to try new medications and experiement with treatments. but i admire her. there’s something very lovely and powerful about taking your life back into your own hands. she says, and i agree, that it’s kind of ridiculous the way technology prolongs life these days. and what would her quality of life be anyway if she’s recovering from treatments with no guarantee of it helping (second round of cervical cancer doesn’t have a very high recovery rate). so we’ll see what happens. in 2 weeks she’ll go back to the oncologist and see what they have to say. in the meantime, my cousin has decided to get married this summer, so we’ll have something happy to look forward to.
life is so different from one month ago. thinks can change in a heartbeat. another month from now, i’ll be done with grad school, there will be a wedding around the corner, and i don’t know how my aunt will be. originally they gave her 3-4 months from diagnosis. we’ll have to see. we didn’t know whether to tell grama, she can’t hear at all anymore so it wasn’t a moral so much as physical dilemma. i went to visit her on her birthday last week. i brought flowers and gave her a manicure. being there, telling her about my aunt didn’t cross my mind because it just wasn’t a possibility – we can’t communicate anymore. she talks and i nod or shake my head. this lack of communication frustration soared to new heights when grama leaned over to me, twice, and asked if i knew that she was planning to kill herself. since she can’t hear me, all i could do is go numb and shake my head. she has no means or ability, but what a fucked up thing to say.
keep it together anyway.
i’m doing my best. the good times have me practicing excellent self care: eat right, run, go to work, give only what i can, get enough sleep, text, call, visit, do it again. worse times i watch endless hours of tv while playing games to keep my mind occupied, eat shitty, shove off exercise, text back, hermit, sloth, numbness. get up the next morning and try again. i’m thankful to be going through this without alcohol. it would only be worse, more melodramatic, and guilt-ridden on top of that. so i focus on feeling sometimes and not feeling other times. getting my work done, going to class, working on papers. keep it together anyway. it’s amazing how one foot still goes in front of the other. life goes on.