I’m Not Ready to be Ready

It started with missing out…

Tuesday was a Christmas craft party at my friend Ana’s house. Christmas is her favorite time of year, and she loves nothing more than putting on the Christmas Glee soundtrack and making crafts with her friends. And I love nothing more than spending time with people, being crafty, eating, and laughing while belting out “All I Want for Christmas is You.” But this year, I have cancer. This year, I got really really tired by 9pm. This year, I had to be the first to leave. And this year, I missed the group picture and the plans. I was so bummed. I don’t think I have EVER been the first to leave a party. I told myself that it was just the day. That I had worked really hard at school and had a lot on my plate.

It progressed to rage…

I had been excited for months about selling items at the enormous Feria Tristan Narvaja. My roommate and I had discussed how much fun it would be to set up a blanket on the street and see how much money we could get for all of our shit. I LOVE a good sale. But it wasn’t about the money for me. It was about the experience. I pictured in my head the friend group, all with stuff on the street, eating, drinking beers, making up stories about the pedestrians, and secretly competing to see who could make the most money. I pictured piling all of our stuff into our friend’s tiny car squished to the max and laughing as we hit bumps and smushed even more into each other. I pictured card games and silly conversations. I pictured a memory.  Instead, all of us were tired from the night before, only three people sold things, and we all split into Ubers. At one point I looked over at my friends. They were doing a crossword puzzle on a phone. And this boiling rage came over me. I wanted to rip the phone right out of their hands and throw it across the fucking street. BE PRESENT! I’M RIGHT HERE. PEOPLE ARE RIGHT HERE.

In all honesty, my friends were doing nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. I had been down this path many times before.  Let’s face it, I once had two friends tell me that trivial conversations were useless and obsolete and the only reason they participated was because of obligation. And I disagreed then, but I vehemently disagree now. So again, it wasn’t like my people had changed. I had changed. The rage brewed because I know my time is limited. Right now, I am well. Right now, I can lug 50 pounds of clothes across town to sell. Right now, I am present because I can be. So I said, “screw this” and picked up my stuff and went home and called my friend who isn’t here and present because I needed to be reminded that phones do have benefits. I also needed to be reminded of what used to be my life.

It ended with reality…

Months before I found out I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had made an appointment to see a therapist in Montevideo to work out issues with being disappointed in people not meeting expectations. Three sessions later, the topic shifted dramatically. “I have cancer,” I told her, “and this is going to be a very different conversation.” The disappointing events this week circled us back to the idea of expectations. “Maybe I just need to be more clear,” I told her. “I was just so mad and then guilty for being mad and then sad because all I want right now are people and experiences. I want my people who are not here. I was tired but that isn’t unusual after a day of teaching. The sun had taken some wind out of me, but it was hot that day. I was so mad when I had no reason to be.” STOP! My therapist looked at me and said stop. “I need you to hear me,” she said. “You. Are. Sick. You. Have. Cancer. And you are smart enough to know it is just going to get worse.” And that is when the reality hit and tears finally came.

No one wants to be sick. Okay, maybe there are people out there who get off on being sick, but they are crazy and I stand clear of them. I don’t want to be sick. And the bitch of not having a reaction the first round is the reality has not set in. Because in my head, I’m not sick yet. Chemo is just a process I have to do every other Thursday. Cancer is just a thing that lives inside of me. But hearing those words so plain and perfectly simple punched me straight in the stomach. I am sick. It may not be fair or right, but it is here. Now. And it sucks. I am also hyper-aware of the concept of time. I am hyper-aware of my time just looking and feeling well, but also the morbid idea that I now have a number, a percentage attached to my life. I needed the dose of reality. I needed to just sob. I haven’t let myself do or face either. And I needed to name why my expectations are so high right now. Without sarcasm or jest, I needed to hear and say, “I am sick.”

Despite all of this, I am still not ready to be ready. I am sick. I can accept that. But I am not ready to miss out and lose experiences. I am not ready to be disappointed and sad. I am not ready to have bad days and good day. I am just not ready to be cancer along with Kim.

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