Someone recently texted me the words “doom and gloom,” and I thought, “that’s it, I’m going to write something upbeat. Something that sings rather than moans.” And then David Bowie died at age 69 from cancer. And today Alan Rickman died at age 69 from cancer. And two of my beautiful cousins are battling cancer. And another cousin died too abruptly from cancer, leaving her husband, young daughter and brand new home and happiness behind. And my grandmother fights skin cancers all the time. And a very good friend of mine has been dealing with his own cancer tug-of-war for the past few years. And then a friend’s dad died of cancer a couple of years ago. And then my ex broke through a nasty web of cancer in his 20s. His dad died of cancer at a young age. He has several friends with cancer, and some who didn’t make it.
There was a period in my life where I thought, “I don’t know anyone with cancer. How strange is that? You hear about it everywhere. But I don’t even know one person.” Huh. Be careful what you think. I’d much rather be thinking the same thing today, that I didn’t know anyone with cancer. I’d much rather it be true. Maybe there aren’t any swarms of locusts going around, but we’re dealing with our own plague. Silent, but emitting a piercing, shrieking white scream.
I really did try to be upbeat today. I was going to talk about how fun it was to speak French with a 91-year-old woman yesterday who left Saint Germain, France (near Paris) in the ’40s to move to a tiny town in Louisiana. She hated it. But never left because she was married, and because she didn’t want her parents to be right. They didn’t want her to move over here in the first place. She stayed, and she made the most of it. She was spunky, lively, like a young teenager when I spoke with her. And she seemed to love speaking French, since she rarely has the chance. I loved it too.
And I could tell you about how even though I whine about going to the gym, which I rarely ever do if I can help it (go to the gym, I mean), going to water aerobics with my grandmother is actually fun, and I do get a workout and feel better afterward. It’s all about what you put into it. And I like that Nana is sassy and does what she wants if she doesn’t like what the instructor tells them to do.
I don’t like hearing screaming television judges at 5am, I don’t like all the responsibilities I’ve acquired and I don’t like having to face smart-ass, incompetent doctors, nurses and landlords when I stay with my grandmother, but I do love hanging out with her. I like laughing with her, looking at old pictures, hearing her stories and going through her old papers. We just found her winning spelling bee certificate from 1937. This will indeed be pressed and framed.
My uncle recently wrote me from prison. I haven’t written him back. I don’t even know where to begin. When going through the papers, we found some cards he’d written from school, when I was a baby. On the side of one of the cards he asks if I’d walked yet. He still asks my grandmother about me. But again, where do I even begin? There’s still a lot of anger on my part, but reading these cards I see him as an innocent child. How interesting life can be made up of a mix of love and sadness, light and darkness, order and chaos, good health and cancer. Beauty and doom/gloom. Much like this blog entry.
I’m sorry for the sadness and the cancer and the anger. But I’m also so disgustingly happy to live in a time where I can soak up the music of David Bowie, the screen presence of Alan Rickman, beautiful moments with friends, family and loves and live to write about it and experience it over and over again. Living is good.