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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