I have been quiet these days since the scan results came in for a wide number of reasons. I have been working hard. I have been at my uncle’s wedding and totally in the cocoon of my big raucous family. And, perhaps more than anything, I have been bewildered by even how to make sense of what lies ahead and how to feel about it. So I have gone quiet, not just for you, but also for me.
I wonder how often we are in a place where we simply don’t know how to feel. The joy of the clear scans still shimmers around me, and I also have cancer again. Last time my cancer wasn’t dangerous enough so that I needed these scans. So this time, I have had better news available because the possible news was worse. How does one celebrate that?
And perhaps this is part of the difficulty of being human just generally. Sure there are times when the news is unabashedly good (like my uncle’s wedding last night—pure liquid joy). And there are times when the news is unabashedly horrific. But often, our lives are braided with too many colours to make out a specific shade. You hate your job but love your house. Your kids are difficult but your marriage is fabulous. Your body is showing the small signs of age but you’re mostly healthy. Do we celebrate these things? Mourn them? Often this mix creates less of a beautiful rainbow and more a smear of colours that can trend to brown.
So I like to try and separate them out. The shimmering pink of a day with my beautiful daughter, so happy at her new college, and the quick facetime with her new best friend. The luminous green of the family at large, growing and thriving with generations still flowering, the two littlest cousins learning to crawl and pick themselves up, my aunts and uncles silver-haired and dancing all night. The black emptiness of fear of known horrors fading into the smoky grey of an unknown and potentially dangerous future. The rich burgundy of the work I get to do, the colour and complexity of the pinot noir I share with my partners at the end of a class well taught. The cold lapis of sadness, a deep pool that pulls me in and holds me, some times under, breathlessly. The sky blue and snow white of the mountains against the sky, the delight in this spectacular world. Each colour has its own kind of beauty. Each is objectively a vital human emotion. Some I like better than others, though, and right now they are crowded thickly around, a toddler applying paint thickly and without concern for aesthetics.
Last night I was dancing and dancing with cousins, daughter, aunts and uncles (Michael and Aidan didn’t make it to this one). We would whirl and sing and laugh together. And then one of them would pull me close into a hug and whisper fierce or tender words of love into my ear. “I think about you every day.” “Fuck cancer!” “I love you.” And our eyes would fill with tears and then we would be back in the swirl of the crowd. And perhaps this time is like that whirling, swirling, loud and quiet and fierce and loving and weeping.
Tonight I will try to sleep in a plane across the Pacific. Tomorrow I will inevitably sleep in a surgical theatre. And then we’ll see what colours shade my life next.