I keep waiting for this sense of loss to leave. I keep waiting to wake up one morning and everything will be okay. There will be work to go to or a breakfast to make for someone. There will be enough money in the bank. There will be no more side affects. There will be no more pain. My body will be all in one piece. But I wake up and life is exactly as it was before.
If you are out of work long enough, the days are all the same. The concept of weekend no longer has value. There is nothing special to Friday. There is nothing to dread in Monday. Every day is the same as the one before it and every day after will be the same as this one.
If you live alone long enough, you will go a very long time without talking. You will sometimes be startled by the sound of your own voice. You will resent the sound of the phone ringing and chagrined at your resentment. The dog will become more easily rattled by the pop and snap of daily life.
If you are sick enough for long enough, the surgical nurses remember your name. Doctors will give you their home phone number. The pharmacist will ask how you are. You will be the person other people call when a niece finds a lump.
The surge of power that came with the shock of a terminal diagnosis gave me an amazing amount of forward momentum. There is no one more intent of living than someone who can see Death. I survived because it was the only option.
I resemble the terrier who, after years of determined pursuit, has finally caught the car he has been chasing. What do I do now? What do I do with this life I have now? With this body? With this mind? The days drag, drag on and on, plodding. The months pass like minutes.
There is writing to do. There is reading to do. Dinner has to be dealt with. Somehow, there is always laundry to do. I am too lackadaisical to make a vocation of housework. Cooking interesting food feels a bit much. I am on constant guard against becoming one of those people who broadcast the details of their meal. Photographed omelets are a cry for help.
The crisis is over. I’m no longer in immediate danger. The threat of extinction has been met. All forces have stood down. Everything back to normal. Except me. There’s no going back for me. There’s no going back at all. The dust has settled about everyone else but not me. There is still all the dust of an Oklahoma summer about me.
I’ve come undone, but good, this time. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men and all that jazz and everybody shout amen. I don’t know how much magic of reinvention I have left. Like an old jean jacket, I am faded at the edges and thin at the elbows. My pockets are full of holes.
Recovery is more complicated than I imagined it would be. How long does it take?, I ask the therapist. The therapist shrugs. It is different for different people. How long does it take?, I ask the doctor. The doctor clicks a pen. It takes awhile. How long does it take?, I ask God. God says as long as it needs to.
I wake up and there is the morning and everything is the same. Mark another day done and another one has begun. Everything is the same except I am one day older.
P.S. – And that is really all that matters.