There are times when I read about someone dying too young, and I lose all hope. Within seconds I am in that dark place. You know the place. It’s where my cancer has won and I’m gone. My blog goes un-updated. My Facebook status sits at something insignificant. The library books I have on hold come in, but no one picks them up and the library sends that snotty-sounding automated email to say they’ve been released and given to someone else—a message that goes unread, of course, because I forgot to show Victor how to check that email account. It’s where my dogs wander around the house looking for me and my kids grow up without their mom.
It doesn’t matter how much the oncologist says, “If you have to have cancer, this is the one to have; it’s got the best cure rate,” because in the dark place, all I can think about is lymphoma’s recurrence rate (it doesn’t seem all that low to me). In the dark place, I question the whole treatment process because it’s so much pain and expense when I’m going to die anyway. I make a note to remind a lot of different people that I want to be cremated with a hat on so I won’t be bald if/when I’m ever resurrected. And then I make a note to tell them to stop laughing, I do too still have a chance at eternal life, and just for that, I’m going to spend it making them sorry they ever laughed at me. If they’ve seen zombie movies, they know to be afraid.
I don’t like the dark place. I try not to go there. It feels like I’m having a pity party for myself, and I hate the idea of “why me?” Because, y’know, why not me? Cancer isn’t choosy. It picks good people and bad people with reckless abandon. (Please do not tell me in which of those categories you think I fit.)
Sometimes the only thing that can bring me out of that dark place is the idea of Vic rolling around in the life insurance money he’ll eventually get. But most often, it’s just time that eases me back out. And it’s weird, because when I do get out it’s not even a halfway-out kind of thing; I’m all the way out and suddenly the happiest person in the world. I am energized by my friends’ kindness, new blossoms in the flowerbed, the quotes Brenda and Tony post on Facebook, the sun gleaming in the blue sky, a good cup of coffee. It takes the simplest of life’s good things to make me feel lucky to be alive, to realize how good I still have it.
And I do have it good. I have the best of friends, a loving family, and yummy ice cream in the freezer. To expect more out of life would be greedy, right? So I carry on, enjoying being alive and hoping that when I end up in the dark place again, I won’t be there long.