In Full Flower
It’s not flower season, here in the darkening and dampening North West, but still, life gives me beauty. Each day is miraculous because Shel is still here with me. It almost doesn’t matter what the scans show, what the doctor says, we’re still here, together. We’ve beaten the odds again and again, and sometimes it seems like that can go on forever, even though cancer does nibble away at normal life, day by day.
After all these years, now we know we can choose how to react when the doctor says something like “we don’t have any more options.” Sometimes we just say “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all that before.” Shel’s cancer is slow, our life together has been long. Eighteen years now, although he had cancer when we met. All the things we’ve done together over the years, all the things we still have planned, life is only what you make of it, and we try to make the most, the best, and even beyond that: we try to make a life that doesn’t admit that cancer could ever win. We laugh in the face of danger, ha ha! Who said that, and what were they thinking?
Sometimes it’s dire, sometimes we cry ourselves to sleep. Then the morning comes again, and we awaken to the sight of a hummingbird just outside the bedroom window. The mornings grow colder now, but our new flannel sheets comfort us, and yes, we have a furnace, and we know how to use it. Flannel soaks up the tears very well, and keeps you warm into the bargain.
I’m always thinking: this could be the last time, the last Thanksgiving, the last Christmas. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep for thinking that maybe Shel won’t wake up, that I’ll rise alone to greet the hummingbirds, feed Beppo and Zazou, not bake him his morning croissants, not have someone to make me my beautiful morning coffee. But then, I’ve thought that so many times, and I’ve always been wrong.
When cancer is your constant companion you fear it with every breath you take, and also, if you’re lucky, you slap its face as often as possible, embrace its terrors in the night, refuse its dominion over your happiness. Flowers rule, and sunrises, and cats sleeping on the comforter, and good French wine, and cedar-fragrant evenings, and sitting by the fire, and kissing at day’s end. We are winning this battle, one moment at a time, no matter how fierce. Many days we believe that love can conquer all, and may it be ever thus.