Life is an amazing prize-fight. You start to relax, to let things go, to go with the flow, and then B-A-M, you receive a Batman cartoon worthy T-H-W-U-M-P from the Universe.
My husband and I have been dealing with his cancer with a panache bordering on cockiness. He’s been flying through chemo without issue, and we have been strutting around like Fonzie, giving each other thumbs up during treatment.
Friday, our confidence got a ding . . .
In for a maintenance treatment, Neil had a severe reaction to the chemo. Without details, it was a scary thirty minutes where his brave body tapped its gloves together and went in for the fight. As I watched multiple medical personnel hooking him up and shooting things into his IV, I wondered if this was it.
I stayed oddly calm, which I do in emergencies. In fact, I stay SO calm that I am fairly useless. As a crisis escalates, my system goes into a drug-induced, Cheech ‘n Chong modus operandi.
I remember the day when a teenage friend fell in our yard and broke his femur. I heard the bone snap like a tree branch. He looked at me and said, “I broke my leg.” I smiled and responded, “I know, man. Gnarly. I’ll get my sister,” and floated into the house.
In the hospital, I used my best surfer dude voice, repeating to my husband a series of clichés. . .
I’m sure that to Neil, I sounded like, “Hey, dude, it’s cool man. No worries. Always darkest before the dawn. Don’t be upset. That’s bogus. Stay tight.” The nurses looked around when I spoke, probably trying to determine if “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was on a nearby television.
Once my husband’s skin tone turned from light gray to pink, I settled back into my chair. . . and stared at him for the next hour. I watched the oxygen go into his system, and wondered what this would mean for his future.
I actually began to wring my hands, an action I thought was only a metaphor for the act of worrying. I worried about the dog and if we would be admitting my husband to the hospital.
I wondered why it seemed that just as Neil was back in full swing that this would happen.
Then my stoner-fog lifted, and I realized that I needed to take an Arthur Ashe view of life. Why us? Why not us?
Neil and I have more blessings than we can count, including two amazing children, and one hilarious dog. We live in a beautiful home that is slightly haunted, but still lovely, and we get to drive through the country every morning on the way to work.
Life doesn’t promise to be easy. . .
It’s in the struggles that we have to squint to see the light at the end of the tunnel, asking it to guide us lest we lose our way. And in our darkest moments, we feel its warmth.
So, I thank life for the W-H-O-M-P’s and the K-A-P-O-W’s. I have gratitude because Neil came through with flying colors and is as strong as ever. But even if he hadn’t, I felt the light was ready to hold my heart together if needed.
As Kahlil Gibran says, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Yes, it really is darkest before the dawn, dude.