Sunday, September 19, 2010

barbara

One of the comforts of atheism is that you never shake your fist at God when things go wrong. Likewise you can't be patting your righteous self on the back when Fate throws you a bone. It is comforting. The randomness is easier to believe. There is no guilt or pride. Just Fuck, I wish this hadn’t happened or Hooray! at finding a $20 bill.

My kind-hearted, funny, wonderful Barbara of the Lovely Mammaries has breast cancer. It’s been just over 2 weeks since the call came. 2 weeks since a routine mammogram turned into presence of calcification turned into a needle biopsy turned into a positive diagnosis for cancer turned into a partial mastectomy turned into genetic testing and radiation.

The intial news, as I once imagined and now know, is chock full of shock and pain and numbness. And what ifs and the deafening lyrics of songs:



“Beloved Wife”

by Natalie Merchant

You were the love
For certain of my life
You were simply my beloved wife
I don't know for certain
How I’ll live my life
Now alone without my beloved wife
My beloved wife

I can’t believe
I’ve lost the very best of me

You were the love
For certain of my life
For fifty years simply my beloved wife
With another love I'll never lie again
It’s you I can’t deny
It's you I can’t defy
A depth so deep into my grief
Without my beloved soul
I renounce my life
As my right
Now alone without my beloved wife
My beloved wife
My beloved wife

My love is gone she suffered long
In hours of pain

My love is gone
Now my suffering begins

My love is gone
Would it be wrong if I should
Surrender all the joy in my life
Go with her tonight?

My love is gone she suffered long
In hours of pain

My love is gone
Would it be wrong if I should
Just turn my face away from the light
Go with her tonight?

(I have never liked the word “wife” as it represented something I felt I’d left behind. But for all intents and purposes, I have no stronger word for who she is to me after these short 24 years.)

When my meltdown and crying jags subsided that evening, all that was left was her buoyant optimism and the need to look this nightmare in the face and devise a plan. Most of the good news in the bad news was very good. Small, caught early* and contained.

*annual mammograms...just get them.

I can’t go into all the specifics now. It’s an education in oncology borne of controlled-panic-necessity and not my usual fact-absorbing-delight. She’s doing very well. Hopes are high and the partial mastectomy (remember the first “t”) was successful. No cancer cells detected in the “margins.”

In the chaos of remodeling and anxiety of fiscal bedlam and anticipation of my dear parents’ arrival and uproar at work, the lens focuses sharply on her sweet face and the rest is a blur. My gentle, strong, amazing guapa. She is the love, for certain, of my life...she is simply my beloved wife.

Fuck, I wish this hadn’t happened.

2 comments:

Texas2Tennessee said...

Damn that sucks. Sending love and hope to you both.

StevensVox said...

My love & prayers (shudd'up!) to you both, and as always ALL of us are a phone call away.
Whether it is to bring over a dish or to shuttle you to an empty alley wall to shatter some bottles against, just pick up the phone.