L’Epée De Damoclès

Sometimes the glass feels all the way empty. Sometimes it feels like living on Death Row. You’d think that after 18 years I’d be used to it, that sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, but these feelings hit me predictably, about every three months, when Shel gets his CT scans.

Every time I think: he’s coughing too much, bleeding too much, winded all the time, this can only mean bad news. Lately he’s been reminding me: you always think that, but I’m always ok. Well no, he’s not always ok. A year and a half ago he was told to get his affairs in order. He did. We cried, we agonized, we despaired. We invited the Death Doctor into our house, discussed the how and when of it all. And now, by yet another miracle of modern medicine, he’s a lot better. Since that horrible day in the doctor’s office we’ve spent six months in our beloved home in France. We’ve laughed far more than we’ve cried. Life has been good to us, and as we did with those empty glasses shining in the morning light, strewn about after a late night party, we’ve washed off the residues, not of martinis and wine and tiramisu but of sorrow and panic, and carried on.

Last night, once again, I imagined my life as a widow. It’s a ritual now, one I perform on each CT’s Eve. After 18 years together, a life alone takes on desperate proportions in my imagination. It seems to me that the sun could never shine on that life, the glass would always be empty, the sword would fall and life as I know it would end, brutally.

But like the luckiest of Death Row inmates, today we had a blessed reprieve. Shel’s fine, or at least as fine as he was the last time he was poked and prodded, and that’s pretty fine indeed, for a guy who’s had cancer for 18 years, and is turning 65 next week. Long ago he said that his cancer goal was “to get old and die of something else.” By gum, I think he’s going to make it. Let’s raise a glass to that, a full one.

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26 Comments on “L’Epée De Damoclès”


  1. Every day is a blessing. Every year a gift. Thank God for all of the blessings you have had and will continue to have. Love to you both, and I won’t say welcome home, but rather, welcome back!

  2. Abra Bennett Says:

    Well, there’s no god in our life, but I will thank all the tireless cancer researchers!

  3. Chef to Go Says:

    I’ll drink to that! To you health Shel!

  4. Paula Says:

    Great news! À votre santé!


  5. We were wondering how you were doing! I want to get together with you guys soon!

  6. Abra Bennett Says:

    Annie – Let’s do it! What’s your schedule?

  7. Linda Mounday Says:

    Abra, I didn’t realize it’s been 18 yrs since you and Shel wed! It seems like just yesterday we all gathered in your back yard for the marital festivities! Great to hear all is going pretty well for you both! Linda

  8. Abra Bennett Says:

    Well, we’ll have our 17th anniversary in June. But Shel had cancer before we married, just about 18 years now since his diagnosis.

  9. Silvia Carry Says:

    It’s great to hear that Shel is doing “all right”. I always think about you. Always admired the way you deal with having the sword hanging constantly over your head.

  10. Julie H Says:

    That’s great! My Great Uncle had bone cancer many years ago and he lived a very long time with it. So it does happen and I am very glad that Shel is doing very well and so are you!

  11. Allen Le Couteur Bisson Says:

    There’s still a lot of pension to get, don’t let it go to waste.
    Allen

  12. lcalestini Says:

    Abra and Shel – SOOO glad to hear this. Going thru again myself and I can’t tell u how much inspiration and strength I have gotten from reading the way u guys have handled this thru the years. We try to make each day a party of one sort or another. Keep having so much fun!!!

  13. Barbara Says:

    And we too are all very glad things are going so well. Must be the tender love and care plus good wine and food plus moral support from everybody. Take care

  14. Heinz Says:

    We are very glad to hear that Shel is doing fine. We’ll rise a full glass to that. Take care.

  15. Diane Laird Says:

    I’ve been quietly reading along and visiting France with you. I’m so happy for your well-deserved good news! A very happy new year.

  16. Wolfgang Says:

    That is the best news for 2012 ! 🙂

  17. Margaret Hall Says:

    So glad to read that blog…..happy news. I thank God for answered prayers. XXX

  18. Jeanne Says:

    That’s good news! You’ll have to begin planning your next sojourn across the pond and then have a full glass of something festive to cheer the good news with!

  19. Margaret Pilgrim Says:

    You remind us that regardless of our deepest nagging worries, most of us will actually “die of something else” than what we feared.

    Wishing Shel a fabulous 65th birthday and the two of you a stellar 2012. !

  20. nancie Says:

    Congratulations!
    Please, if you could share with us, in particular, what Shel has done in the past year to stay healthy and keep cancer gone…thanks.

  21. jessica Says:

    Here’s to the both of you! Thank you for sharing.


  22. HOORAY!!! Wonderful news, Shel and Abra!

  23. spamwise Says:

    Glad to see you’re both doing well. Have a great year, Abra.

  24. Henk Says:

    That’s, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!
    Or in Dutch: Superformiweldigeindefantakolosachtig!!!

    Keep on going my dear friends. You are an amazing couple!

    Love,
    Henk and Greta

  25. Price Connor Says:

    Great news about Shel. Whatever Shel is doing—keep on doing!!!!!

    Price and Joe Naryka


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