Monday, October 31, 2011

The Many Seasons

Apple and crabapples, Watercress Pond

I find fall a disconcertingly melancholy time. 
I am an enormous fan of spring and summer, hot, bright, and full of promise. I associate summer with strength - perhaps because we do most of the [literally] heavy lifting - landscaping, gardening, hauling our bikes up the 26 stairs from sidewalk to this season.
This past summer, I was strong, and getting stronger. I was looking forward to the future, and planning, thinking, re-jigging, re-thinking. All done either in my backyard, an oasis of green leaf, small bug, and dappled sun or on that brilliantly sunny dock in Muskoka, cold pinot gris in my hand. 
Fall - with its evident decay, messiness of leaves and darkening days makes me sad; as Kate Bush says, it make me feel like an old woman. This may be because for the second fall in a row, I am facing a large obstacle, a behemoth - like l am looking a thundering fast-descending twister straight in the face. 
Or perhaps, more quietly but more sinister, I feel like Jane Eyre at the doors of Lowood Academy, but I am Helen Burns not Jane Eyre.  I wish to God that there was not another long bleak winter ahead of me. Last winter, I barely left the house - the cold cuts me to the quick, and hurts the arthritic bones. But I (we) have become close to being expert in the simple act of being. Lying. Sitting. Thinking. Or not. 
This is the season of our consciousness, a three week season.  The three-week chemo cycle of our life has resumed - although now there is more chemo, less down time. Someone asked me in the schoolyard today if I was off work. I said yes, but thought - no, actually, the work is ongoing, as I have mentioned before, this is my new job. And the job has a season unto itself:  the one of endurance, contemplation. Endurance is the in-between season, like Edward Gorey cheekily says - the day after Tuesday, and the day before Wednesday. 
I waffle between putting the cancer in a box, and moving around it, respectfully admitting its presence but resisting; or conversely, allowing it to penetrate, seep into all things. I think the jury is out of what is best, and I stoutly refuse this time to read anything related to cancer, so there will be no professional opinion provided here to either confirm or deny. I imagine though, there are links to the "seasons" a cancer patient goes through - survivorship seasons [their term not mine- still trying to find the appropriate moniker]. 
According to  a 2009 article in Cure Today, Kenneth Miller, MD, director of the Lance Armstrong Foundation Cancer Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, described four distinct phases or “seasons” of survivorship.
  1. Acute survivorship: when a person is diagnosed and treated.
  2. Transitional survivorship: when celebration is blended with worry and loss as a patient pulls away from the treatment team.
  3. Extended survivorship: includes those who are living with cancer as a chronic disease and individuals in remission because of ongoing treatment.
  4. Permanent survivorship: people who are in remission and asymptomatic, or,
    cancer-free but not free of cancer because of chronic late and long-term health or psychosocial problems. Others may even develop secondary cancers related to cancer treatment, or develop second cancers not related to the first cancer or its treatment.

I suspect the "put it in a box" notion is #1, and 2-4 are the steeped and infused notion of cancer. I think I am somewhere between 2 and 3, seasonally. Does that make me a winter, or  a spring? And what colour is my parachute?! Sorry, hard to resist such an obvious line. 

Today is Halloween. I love Halloween - While my mum did her very best to provide costumes (boy, she can sew!) generally, I grew up in a house that was hostile to the notion of reams of small children roaming the neighbourhood begging for candy from strangers. It is an odd concept, but as I got older, I recognized that Halloween allows grown ups and kids to do the same thing - have fun, no holds barred, no behavioral strictures -and get a shit load of candy at the end. Decorate with abandon. Laugh out loud. Scare the crap out of the kids you don't like in your neighbourhood. Chat with the neighbours, between hordes of kids descending on you, bags wide open. Some neighbours pour you a glass of wine [or pour straight into your cup, for those of us that travel well] as you walk around -very civilized here in the Beach. 

Naomi is going as Selena Gomez, all sparkle and shine - with of course, the requisite all access backstage pass.....[in a fit of busyness, uprightness and yes, boredom, yesterday, I conjured up said all access pass, thinking, who the heck is going to know you're Selena Gomez!? now she has photo id to flash] and Owen is going as a soccer player. Daddy's house is decorated, and candy will be dispensed. I will sit on Lawrence's porch, talk to the neighbours, eat candy, and listen to the ghouls and ghosts. The neighbour down the street, whose kids are much older now, still gets a huge kick out of being Frankenstein, and hiding behind the patio furniture....then RAAAAARRR, out he comes.There are mixed howls of fright and screeches of delight. 

I met some of my dearest friends at a Halloween Party, in the early 1990s. Chris W was a large Scot - kilt and all; Sherry was Marie Antoinette, with a lovely macrame wig; Diane was a bee; Kristine (my entree into this new group of lovely people) was a "Toasted Western", Marc was the Eiffel Tower (as only a 6'7" Frenchman could be), and I was a "cereal" killer. It was a seriously fun time. A season of love and friendship. 

And so, we sally forth into the Endurance Season - just follow me down Diagon-Alley.....and we'll see you there. 

1 comment:

Kristine said...

You are NOT Helen Burns, my dear, no way. After all, just try to imagine Helen Burns dressed as a cereal killer. No, you are made of much tougher stuff than she. As you enter the endurance season you are more like Jane after leaving Thornfield, wandering the moors, sleeping rough, but refusing to give up and knocking on every door until the right one opens...enduring, and surviving to fight another day.