The Light and Shade of Things

Fifty

The levels haven’t gotten better.  Some days are filled with such pain I can’t explain it other than to say “you have to have been there”?  But in the past I would have done anything possible to make sure no one ever knew how this feels.  The physical stuff I learned to deal with years ago.  Sports taught me how to cover up minor stuff, being an asshole taught me how to cover up the rest.

Some days I pray that the cancer will just win and a nap turns into something permanent.  Guilt gets a large opening on those days.  The lose of control over my life isn’t who I am.  Long ago I accepted the narcissistic qualities of who I am.

Now I need lots of help to get through the days.  Some of it for little things you don’t even consider.  Every now and then not being able to get a glass of water?  The hallway is just too long.  I’m not used to having to sit on the floor to just let my body catch up with my drive.

Watching the sun rise through the window is still a wonder.  And some days I consider it to be a gift.  Even if the sky if covered in grey and the guy next door is entering week two of concrete removal from his driveway, I try to hope.  One more chance to get things right.

And then it creeps back…

The darkness that makes me think of those old cartoons where the character has a cloud dripping on their head.  Even when the umbrella is open, the water still soaks them through.  The waters on the inside?  Guess that is some reference to inner turmoil?

Hope left the building some time ago.  Parts of my life that were funny, aren’t.  The doctors have told me that with so many things that occurred in my personal life in such a short period of time, my brain just isn’t wired the same anymore.  It goes far beyond a defense mechanism, my emotions have just stopped.

Could be protecting others?  Might be protecting myself?  When you close the circle around yourself it hopefully falls into a little of both.  Mostly I think it is protecting others because I still have such emotional response to certain people.  I keep grasping for the light and only come up with

I feel like I let them down.  Even with the cancer?  But you can’t control that one!  Stop acting like an idiot!

See the battle isn’t as easy as some people think.  You can’t just will your way out of a mental state.  You can delay it.  Push it off.  But it always comes back.  This change in myself isn’t one I like.

The darkness will win someday.  The sun won’t come up and that damn jackhammer will be silent to me.  I’m only wondering if the pain goes away as well?

 

 

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Sign here, and here, and here as well!

Just push play.  Stop staring at your phone and hit the button and let’s get this over with.  You’re going to need every bit of emotion out of you for what comes next.  Let the joy and sorrow, the pain and the memories wash over you for a few minutes.  Take the smiles or tears and let them escape, because sitting down and deciding what comes next needs to be rational, emotionless if possible.

Exactly 364 days ago I was taken somewhat by force to the hospital.  Another one of those cancer things that everyone worries about and dreads having to deal with.  My blood had become a poison onto itself and I didn’t realize it.  The doctor’s didn’t understand for another 24 hours because I was just talking gibberish.  Out came the paperwork, that set of directives that when I was mostly rational I chose a course of action.  The problem was the person who was supposed to make the decisions didn’t, or wouldn’t.  Maybe she just couldn’t?  Doesn’t matter, it just made the process longer and more exciting since I technically didn’t have a proxy any longer.

I time bombed the paperwork later so that I could make sure that everything was being handled the right way.  Or at least my way.  So today I have to finalize the new paperwork.  Going back over how I want to live and how I wish to die.  Thus the music.  A track I knew was going to absolutely leave me a wreck and make me quiver just from the title flashing on the screen.  The headphones covering my entire skull [I don’t care for those earbud junk you get with too many devices.  Thus old-school cans that cover my ears and envelop my senses].

There nothing fun about this process.  Over the last year things have not been handled in a way I always want.  I left too much leeway in case someone changed her mind and wanted to help.  My parents are doing their absolute best to understand my choices, even leaving the room when I can see on their face they disagree or want to argue a different point of view.  But now I have to chose the right person to chose for me.

What conditions will be acceptable?  How long will I be willing to tolerate other circumstances?  All simple questions until you are forced to actually put them on a piece of paper.  It’s no longer some “talk” between family, it’s a binding legal document that leaves no room for discussion.

My mother fought the distribution of some of my things.  Her viewpoint is valid, things can always change.  Maybe I should hold on to my stuff until later.  Nothing like bringing in more lawyers when this might not be the thing worth fight about, or even spending any wasted time on.

I never understood the level of confusion Kathy felt years ago when she had to say goodbye to her own daughter.  Turning off machines, acknowledging a very different world they were about to enter.  I’m trying to remove that for my parents, for my friends, for everyone.  I joke about people just doing what I tell them, but I know it will be hard in the end.  Even knowing that they really don’t have a decision to make can paralyze some.

So medical directives, new living will, and since the lawyer is getting paid a few changes to my actual will have to occur before the close of business today.  It’s stupid that at one point my brain put my ex into consideration, how would she have handled this?  Not well, that’s the thing I need to keep reminding myself.

The irony of this entire day is that my nephew turns 7 today.  While I’m plotting out the terms of my exit, everyone else is going to be celebrating the anniversary of his arrival!  I’ll give him a call after school, maybe some Facetime?  Who knows, I hope they run him into the ground with silly, goofy activities.  Uncle Lary has got to take care of the harder things.  And that’s the way it should be…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ripped from the Headlines!.”

Where’d the Day Go?

The pounding of the rain was so hard that you couldn’t make out either side of the conversation going on.  The volume was as high as I could get it and still maybe every third word was coming through.  It wasn’t like the person on the other end was going to hang up on me.  It was one of those times when once you start, you have to finish.

Going inside wasn’t an option either.  It meant being around people, something that would have made the situation so much worse for me that it might have dragged them into something I couldn’t control.  So I sat there with the windows completely fogged over, shivering in my car even though the heat was running and the seats turned on to keep my butt warm!  I was scared that if someone saw me I wouldn’t know what to say, I wouldn’t be able to do the things that others needed me to.  My thoughts were so wrapped up in wanting to hurt myself more than I was already hurting, someone might have stopped me.

I phoned a friend.  Or more precisely I called one of those semi-anonymous phone lines where you can just talk until you are so drained of words the silence is comforting.  At least until your mind starts back up with the world being a better place without you.  Those thoughts are dangerous and for some reason my brain knew that but was willing to force me down that path anyway.  Somehow the fight or flight mechanism was at odds with each other, neither wanting to give an ounce of space for the other to assume control.

The voice on the line kept asking if I was alright, did I have someone to call?  Too many things had happened in the last few weeks and I hadn’t told anyone.  Not about the cancer, not about the ex having walked the same week.  At times I was still only functional because I willed myself to function since other things hadn’t gone the way I had hoped.  Today for reasons that it has taken me a long time to even come close to understanding, my brain needed a break.  Possibly it needed to break?  The faceless voice telling me to go someplace safe.  Safe?  I couldn’t even be in my own house!

I turned the speaker function on and started moving my car from my assigned spot.  Several people had seen me but just assumed I was talking to someone about work and hadn’t made it out of my car.  I knew where to go but the voice was unhappy to hear I had to go on a major highway.  When you call a suicide hotline, driving a car at a higher speed to get someplace you might feel safe?  Not something they are comfortable with.

Time stood still and moved at the speed of light.  Even thought I’m comfortable driving in nasty weather, I’m sure I wasn’t safe that day.  By the time the hospital parking structure sheltered my car, I was actually holding onto the hand rail as I alternated between pulling and pushing myself towards the check-in spot.  I couldn’t talk anymore.  I just sat there.  By now I was colorless from not having eaten in a day or two, shaking from maybe having remembered to take the medication that was supposed to help with the cancer.

The rest of it was a blur.  I have no idea how the afternoon went by, it took time to figure out who to call and who to keep away.  All I remember is handing some nurse my driver’s license and they did the rest.

Later I found a box of pills under the arm rest that would have taken out several people.  You never want to only go halfway with these things!  Having admitted to the pills, having admitted that you can pretty much use so many combinations of household items to end a life; you learn how scared you are.

I fight that demon all the time.  For some reason that day I won, but it took several others to fight alongside me.  At times I’m still lost in the pain and fear, too many things changed so quickly I never had my footing from the first punch to the gut.  So by the time the one-two punch came within 7 days of each other, I didn’t have a chance.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Saved by the Bell.”

I’ll Stick with Now

We’re trying to once again trap lightening in a bottle, it doesn’t work that way.  Every time you go back to some event it changes because you’ve changed.  The little mistake that you want to correct, it lessened the experience.  Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Theory or for the less inclined, The Butterfly Effect.  I can look back on certain things in my life and know that when taken as isolated incidents, they were some of the best of times.  But I also know that there are points of my childhood, like every other person, that you just don’t recall as well.  Some schoolyard fight, a period in time when mom and dad where just not getting along for some reason; we gloss over many of those times.

Ask any person who is suffering from any type of illness and they are going to want to go back to the day right before they were informed of it.  When ignorance of what laid ahead made the world a much better place.  Some people come out of it and find a new purpose in life, dedication to something different than what laid before.  The difference of what laid ahead.

My world has been pursuing the probability of one event happening and more to the point when that event might occur.  It’s bad enough I know all about the math that comes together to make these projections, add in that I have spent 9 years doing work for a company that asks me to create some of the very formulas that are used by the doctor, lawyers, accountants, insurance companies to determine risk.  Right now someone is looking at a file of mine and trying to determine if my next medical treatment is a worthy risk.

Do I want to be a child forever, no.  Not even an adolescent!  Been there, done that, picked up the knowledge that goes with all of those things.  Would I like a little more time in certain events, time to savor the people and the emotions; hell yes!  But as an adult I know I have been able to take that personal history and be able to identify those life events that I should be clinging to.

Watching my niece start her first day of high school.  Seeing the silly effort put forward in trying to pick out the right clothes, the right hair style, all the while me laughing about how she will never remember any of this a month from now.

Doing the Facetime thing with my nephew so I could see what new backpack he got for his first day of 1st Grade.  How proud he was that he picked his own clothes out.  (I guess there is something universal about the clothing thing?)  He just wanted to talk about the bus ride and his new teacher.

I adore children.  They bring a light into my world that I really need at this moment.  While I wish I cold run around on the playground with him, hearing my nephew talk about it is just as good.  It brings back memories.  Sitting on the phone hearing my niece talk about how some classmate went through a growth spurt over the summer, just as amusing.  During those times I relish my own past, and I don’t have to worry about my future for a while.  They don’t have to either.

Someone asked me a series of questions on Saturday.  Notes to determine exactly how much of my brain was firing correctly and remembering things in the right order.  A timeline of my life.  Some things popped right up, others took a moment to get to the detail they were hoping for; none of it fun.  I never thought I would reach a point where I envied my great-aunt when she was in the throws of dementia.  For her it was as if time stood still at age 19, still asking to call her mother and let her know she was running late for dinner.  My aunt never being upset with not recalling the things she knew, me included.

I can only answer for myself, which I believe is the purpose of this prompt, but I am content with being who I am right now.  Scars and all, pain and joy mixed in one big pot of personality.

But the one thing I wish I understood, why I’m still not angry about certain things?  That is the question worth exploring.  Oh well, this is a good one for the next therapy session!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Golden Age.”

Why now? Why?

“So this is how it ends?”

“My name is Inigo Montoya… prepare to die!”

And the swords just start flashing like flint hitting steel.  A fantasy for me, since the reality of the conversation was so much worse.

“We’re going to stop treatments for a bit.  See if we can let your body rest and hopefully come up with a better plan.  This isn’t the end, but what we’ve tried just isn’t working any longer.”

Gee thanks, I guess I can sleep better at night knowing that we’ve tried but failed.  Actually when I look at it that way, there is a somewhat positive spin to that.  Trying and failing, better than failing to try?  But the results are the same no matter what perspective you place on things, ultimately my body is going to shut down little by little and then we get to answer one of the great mysteries, ‘Where do we go when we die?’  What lies ahead, what came before, is anything certain in life?  Sorry that last sentence is a line from some lyrics that keep racing through my head.

I’ve known this information for a week now and have kept it completely to myself.  Not a phone call type things with my family and since I don’t talk to my friends anymore, no one has heard yet what the plans are.  I need to go home for a few days to help my brother with something, a life change of his own, but a much more positive one.  That’s what I’m letting them worry about, good things.  Nothing can change my information.  That knowledge can be learned we it’s ready.

So I plan with the lawyers, make sure everything there is in order.  My mind thinking about the beginning of Mission Impossible, the show not the movie.  A line of det-cord sparking towards a bomb.  The timing unknown.  And it doesn’t scare me anymore.  It hurts, it is frightening in many ways, but there are things to be done.

Before leaving my house last, I boxed up some things and labeled a few others on their reverse side so that they end up in the hands of the right people.  I’m not worried, the person who will handle that I trust to do the job.  I picked someone who barely knows some of the recipients, no emotions to be tugged.  Hopefully some people will understand why I kept some handmade card for a decade or more, and why it is now being returned.

This blog is going to go sideways for a little bit while I continue to process all of this.  So many changes lately, time to figure out where to be, and who to be.  Angry, sad, frustrated, just accepting of it [which is the worst part because accepting something of this nature while admitting to having bouts of depression usually gets people’s spines all twisted up!].  I want to fight, but I also know that other things will get pulled into the fray of that action.  Just because I need to know something doesn’t mean that I’m ever going to know it.  A really hard thing for someone like me to handle, I’m going to once again have to sacrifice for someone else.

About the only thing that sticks in my mind is hoping that I will be reunited with a few people in whatever sense.  I’m not a religious person, but maybe there is some small chance?

What season am I looking forward to?  Any of them!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In the Summertime.”

Two Shining Stars in a Field of Darkness.

Wow, so we are going with the same theory we use at work, write your own performance review and hope the plus column comes out at least one tick ahead of the “needs improvement” check-box!  Introspection at it’s best, maybe not.  But it does give me a chance to at list think about where things might have gone off-course.  Could be that notion of when you point the finger at someone you are pointing four back at yourself?

It’s been a hard year so far.  When I sometimes feel the need to write, “Yes, I’m still on the green side of the ground!” in some letter, things are tough.  Let’s start with the state of the body.  The tumor I had in my kidney was removed and later found to have spread to other parts of my body.  Not surprising since I hadn’t been responding to the medication that was prescribed.  So little by little we address the ones we find, and try to cut off at the pass those that may show up in the future.  The game of cat and mouse is truly annoying at times.  I’ve watched some of the people I’ve met not make it, and that is hard to describe.  Kids are the hardest for me.  You always know it is going to happen, you brace yourself for it, but once it slaps you in the face a piece of you dies as well.  Empathy, sympathy and a general fear that you bury within worrying that your family is going to be the next ones to cry as they are led down a hallway.  Sometimes you push it down, and other times it takes over.  Think about a see-saw with a kid three times your weight on the other end!

I could go into a long diatribe about still dealing with the loss of my daughter.  But it would take more space than I have to express fully what that has done to me.  For those who understand, you have my deepest sympathy and I would traverse the world to hear you tell the stories of your children.  Hug you until my arms fell to my sides from exhaustion and still only be able to momentarily take away that hole in your heart.  Others who can only imagine this kind of grief, just know it sucks!  It’s easy to say cherish your children, even when they are the world’s biggest pains in the ass.  Believe me when I say I would gladly go bail my daughter out of jail for having been caught joyriding in my classic Jaguar at 3 a.m. and deal with that craziness than to feel the way I do.

Relationships are the hardest thing to deal with for me.  Still not being capable of getting angry with my ex is something that at times worries me.  Not an ounce of anger, just concern for her well-being.  Last week I told someone that when I return from my latest round of medical poking and prodding I was going to have a different attitude about people.  At some point my feelings have to be addressed and I don’t feel the need to protect other’s from the fallout.  I’m not going after anyone, nothing so stupid.  But I need to find some answers to a few things and it will mean cracking some eggs along the way.  It’s not a secret I’ve been sick, but since they are staying away from all of what has transpired, I tend to not have the same level of protective feelings I once did.  It folds into thing the doctors have told me, figure things out now, because later might be a problem.  [that whole not responding to treatments at this point changing time tables, at least today!]

Work has been very understanding about all of this.  It’s not like they can do anything other than that.  We brought in someone to pick up the slack in my absences but she quit when she couldn’t keep up with the pace I had established.  A very capable woman but she was being held accountable for the level of work I did.  My 6 a.m. office visits weren’t her style.  So I continue to pump out the mathematical formulas they require, just sometimes 24 hours later than they expect.

The bright part has been to 13 year old’s who have tried desperately to make me smile.  One in Georgia, the other in Massachusetts.  They don’t know each other, I can only think of one occasion that could possibly bring them into the same room, but I wouldn’t be able to see it.  The one in MA is the granddaughter of the woman I have been crashing with during my time in Boston.  She wants to know everything about her aunt who passed long ago.  Not the prim, proper stories her father tells of his sister, but some subversive tail of intrigue that only I might know.  That has made this time go faster, easier.  The one in GA has taken to emailing me long stories of her days.  Boys she knows, probably likes but won’t admit that to me, just general teenage girl stuff.  Those are a little harder to read since I never had the chance with my own daughter.  But I know she is just trying in her own way to make me feel better.

Paul Harvey used to sign off those tales on the radio with “And now you know the rest of the story”.  I looked forward to hearing them every Sunday morning while I was growing up, and hopefully with each day a little more of my story will be written, shared with you funny readers.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “State of Your Year.”

Forward then Backwards!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Alphabet Soup.”

Absolute Beauty, Carefree Days.

Emotions Flowering, Grateful.

Heartbeat Intensifies, Joyful Kisses.

Loving Moments, Newfound Options.

Passion Quickened, Reawakened.

Silly Times.

Understated Vixen Whitney.

Xysts, Youthful Zeal…

[Let’s go in Reverse!]

Zones, Yellowed Xylographs.

Whitney Vanishes, Unceasing Turmoil.

Scared, Relentless Quakes.

Phonecalls Outright Neglected.

Mornings Lonely, Kinship Jumbled.

Inadequate.

Halfhearted Gait,

Failure.

Endless Disappointment.

Cheerless.

Broken.

Alone.

So no one has to go running for their dictionary, which I needed to “X” is a hard one!

Xysts – Gardens with promenades

Xylographs – Wooden pictures