6 weeks ago
i went on a bike ride today. in an utterly innocent body. there is no hint or ache or muted scream from any of the four corners of the beast. all is perfectly seated pistons. eager happy legs. big volume heart and lungs. a thing more interested in the chase than itself. i found myself thinking- maybe we misunderstand cancer. maybe it isn’t really so terrible. because right now, it doesn’t feel terrible. and i know how the rest of that goes, what with the “not yets” and the insidious nature, and so on. i know. i remember coughing blood. but even then, just me and the little spot of blood in my hand; innocence.
i will confess that i am having a nostalgia for the past that never existed. again. i watch too many BBC period dramas. romanticized suffering. where you get to die at home in bed. surrounded by the people who are tender for your mysterious body and the loving it makes possible. and you are never sure you are dying. until you are. the internal is as cosmic and unknowable as the ethereal. we conjecture and guess. they put hands and leeches on. fret and change the cloths. pray for intervention. but the cosmos above and within, moves how it will.
and it is true that these modern days we don’t die the thousand times we could. from infections and broken bones and tuberculosis. we are cocksure modern ghosts. but there is a price, i think. we hand over control to the scanning machines and to the waiting rooms. paperwork. a co-pay. we truss up god in scrubs and submit our terrified hearts to florescent overheads. and there is no room for the village in the waiting room.
we give over our bodies or the bodies of people we love. submit to the intermediary with an advanced degree in detachment. we become our pathology. and forget the hands of lovers. forget the swirling cosmos inside us.
and unless you lack insurance, the body doesn’t get to keep its secrets. i spent the morning listening to the autistic tap dancing of the MRI. the quiet cocking of pistols at the poker table. someone performing CPR on a songbird. and as a finale, the copulating of the hammer and the dental drill. i was choreographing an awkward modern dance all the while it probed my brain. running its fingers under the folds and lobes of my earliest smell of horse, the fear of outliving my mother, my lust for parsnip.
i worry about becoming unrecognizable to the mama bird. i worry i’ll be handled too much. and leaking quicksilver out the seams, the natural life will take one look and fly away. that by not dying early and quickly, i have forfeited my humanness.
the walking undead. in exile. it is the danger of the dark magic they perform in the infusion room with the green-apple colored recliners. ice water in paper cups.
at what price?
this is all hooey of course. but i realized that it is an element of my unease. and needed rooting out.
and the part i can do something about is the hands. maybe not the leeches. but remember to feed the soul. tell the truth. try to leave behind something tangible. heal our sore hearts first. let it all in and let it all go. remember the cosmos and spend a few evenings with our heads tilted back.