By the time we're eight or ten, most of us figure out that we are not immortal. And, if we still think we're immortal, we've run smack into the realization that at least some others are not. But, beyond that, we don't give it a whole lot of thought. In fact, if we DO give it a whole lot of thought, we'll have been told not to be so morbid and to be happy. So we toodle along, content in the notion that while death may indeed exist, it exists only for the old or those far away from us. For the most part.
There are a few words out there that can change that in an instance, a prime one being biopsy. Biopsy, along with it's fellow traveler cancer, can bring mortality, personal mortality, into very clear and immediate focus. There you were, toodling along with your life; working, playing, laughing, loving, wasting WAY too much time on the computer and WHAM you are pulled up short by a six letter word and all the baggage it carries with it. No more, "don't worry, be happy" because worry has just taken up residence in your brain and whether that residence is permanent or not remains to be seen.
And so it begins, the biopsy, the inconclusive results, the referrals, the scheduling of surgery, the pre-op check ups and the terror. No matter how calm, cool, collected, even sanguine one thinks one is, there is a time around 2:45 in the morning when the terror is undeniable. No one else may see it. You may even try to convince yourself that it isn't there. But it is. And no one, not your mother, not your spouse, not your friend, not even the very nice surgeon that you just met, can say anything to make that go away. Because while they hope for the best, and can quote statistics, and can assure you it will be fine; ultimately, they can't know that to be the fact until you've moved through the entire experience.
Of course, all of this takes time. So you have a lot of time to think. And think. And think. You realize rather quickly that you are not where you'd always thought you'd be by whatever-this-point is in your life. You then begin to wonder IF making plans for the future is some sort of magic you are invoking to get through the situation. Or if, perhaps, you are just whistling past the graveyard and which graveyard is it going to be. One sinks to the forbidden morbid regions rather quickly.
Before too long, you realize that even IF this isn't going to be whatever it is that will spell your demise, something will and that every day lived is a day closer to that day. And you begin to wonder what that means for your life going forward. Between blood tests and CAT scans and this and that, you have quite a bit of time for reflecting.
And, if you're me, you wonder if any insights you garner through all of this reflecting will be carried through should the surgery and the pathology reports say that the end isn't coming in that particular way in this particular year.
Mercifully, the pathology reports came back "negative for malignancy." Now it's time to see how many of the insights remain and where they lead.
Teacher Voices: Stewart Matthews - Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this po...
5 days ago