Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Water, water, everywhere

There's gonna come a time when the river's gonna rise up high
There's gonna come a time when the river's gonna rise up high
And if I can't swim, I gonna find my way to fly
(P. Reddick, Hook's in the Water, Villanelle)

An overwhelming series of days. Washed over with pain. Beaten into physical submission. Time has ground on, and the sheer physicality of this disease has worn me to a nub. It makes every nerve ending raw. It wearies us all, frankly, and the vale of tears flows frequently around here, as our souls bridle at the rottenness of our luck. It sucks to be sick all the time; to be unable to move from fatigue and pain. It sucks to watch it, witness, be part of it. It sucks to have your loved one unavailable, on many levels, because of cancer.

I had a note from a friend today in which she made a request. She asked me to delve deeper. Tell what I find. Go down the path to the inner mind and pull it up at the roots. Shake it out, and see what falls to the ground. This particular friend never asks that which cannot be borne. She is the only person I ever really speak of the spiritual life with, I would say. So, here goes.

My spirit is sad, bludgeoned by reality. The spirit knows there is am army out there to protect it, but it is still reeling from the what ifs, the bad news, the sheer monumentality of this thing, this cancer. I too am sad. I am bone-tired sad. My heart breaks daily, when I go along the mental paths, threads of feelings, dropped and picked up at various points along this journey. The thoughts which plague me the deepest -  of which I can barely give voice to - are the ongoing threads concerning my children. I feel so angry and bereaved on their behalf, spinny with fear and grief, panicked about the million mundane details of a life perhaps not to be witnessed. I find my inner voice catching, as I begin a proto-thought - I must remember to tell Naomi about X, or make sure Owen knows how to do Y - this week I fretted that his current grammar and punctuation skills would not get him through adequately to high school. Will I be there? Should I tell him the secrets I know about girls, so he is armed, in advance, in case I am not here for him to weep to when the certainty of unrequited love hits? I want to tell my children all the things I need them to know, from me, with my voice. But when? Now? What if I die and don't get to it? It prays on my darkest fears of death.  For me and for them.

Then there is the mental path that inevitably leads to death itself. And the lingering question of spirituality, in the face of it. Am I afraid? Yes. And what exactly am I afraid of?  Of a prolonged painful horror my loved ones have to witness. There it's been said. I said it. I am afraid. I am scared shitless. I know, thank God that I am not alone, and others share my fear. Natural really, as we are all afraid of what we do not know. Do I contemplate finding a place of religious haven in this my time of need?  Well, yes. I do. I was raised a Catholic, and it fed my needs as a child. Not so as a grown up. The rites of passage are very clear in the Catholic faith - absolution, forgiveness. But at this point, what do I believe in? How does one go about a spiritual or religious reclamation? Excellent question. And I promise to give it a LOT of thought. I am envious of those with strong religious grounding and tenets; these are the times when they sure do come in handy.

Humans are amazingly resilient, adaptable. I have done a fucking great job of adapting to this cancerous life - I live, eat, breathe, sleep as myself - there is no pretense of anything, really, anymore - it is an intense self-tutorial in real time. Michael is bone-weary but iron clad - moving it all forward without complaint, but often angry with this deal - and there is an immense sadness, too. The kids are steady in this storm, with an amazing capacity for beauty and love and cheer. Lawrence too, stalwart, there for us, keeping things moving along.

And mostly, we keep on moving. Even if you are lashed to the deck, breathless in the wind, and blinded by rain - eventually, the ship you are on moves forward, and the seas calm (ok, that metaphor is stolen right directly out of the Cat's Table - M Ondaatje). It is unsustainable for anyone to live in a maelstrom.  You drown. And so we rise to the level of the flood water, and help each other out, and fly.


Anonymous said...

Hi darlin'. ' Been waiting for your post this evening, hoping simply for results. Instead, I marvelled at your strength, eloquence and generosity. Oh the power in your written words! Whilst acknowledging all our fears, I'm thinking, truly, that if anyone can ride out this storm with grace, it's you. xoxox

Anonymous said...


What you're written really blew me away. Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts and fears in such an eloquent way.

Denyse xo

Anonymous said...

Love you, Kate, what you share here is a gift, I am so blessed to know you.
xo VG

Anonymous said...

Kate & Michael (the kids too but them I don't know and you two I do)
This I know to be true. Live in the moment. If you want to leave messages for your kids (just in case - then do so - why not) but NEVER NEVER NEVER assume that you will not be one of the truly blessed who will be able to tell them the story of how you beat the odds and emerged from that dark place - well I think you are already blessed with their and Michael's love but that is another story - one that relatively few few folks get to experience. A day, a month, a year a decade, a lifetime....this moment - glory in it. You know that I am rooting for you all. Like I have said to you privately - take names and kick ass. You are totally up for it. Lynne

Bob said...

Wow. Blown away by your thoughts and writing. Dark and hopeful, weary and powerful, all rolled into one.

I too was raised Catholic, now am decidedly athiestic, but doing what I can, in my own way, at a distance, to be with you and add my voice to yours. It really amounts to wishing you all the strength to smash this thing back, but it's yours nonetheless.