My mom last night told me that she has cervical cancer, that she is going to have to get a hysterectomy in a month or so. I had called her and after a brief hello, me telling her how I am doing in the vague terms we normally talk, she kind of abruptly and matter of fact-ly said, "I've got some bad news." I was braced for something when she said that, knew it would actually be bad news of the serious kind, not of the insignificant kind that people sometimes describe as bad news, that my mom's not like that, and that she has probably said the same statement to me a few times now before what actually followed, really bad news.
I was stunned and also not stunned. I have become a bit desensitized in some ways to bad news, to people close to me announcing various traumatic health conditions: cancer here, HIV there, cancer there. I just want everyone I know to live forever, to never suffer. It made me incredibly sad. I have already lost one of my parents to cancer and losing the other one, my mom, whom I love so much despite our not-too-close relationship, would be far too much for me to handle. Luckily, her doctors have said it has been caught early and that she should most likely be fine after having a hysterectomy. Still, quite upsetting. It really made me more aware though of how fucking short all of this is, how by chance it is that we even live another day. Existence is a really terrifying thing.
She said she would be fine, that she didn't need anyone to come for the surgery, that her husband would be there, that she will just be there overnight one night. I was so happy in that moment that she was remarried, that she lived with this person who I know loves her so much, that she had someone that cared so much about her there in her life. And while I was thinking about this, some slightly vain thought popped into my head - because usually you find, even in the most terrible situations, a way to somehow relate another person's suffering back to your own imagined suffering, some excuse for you to think about your own self, as if you need any more of them. And I thought about dying alone, wondered what would happen if I continued on this current track I am, of solitude, that when I am old and become ill, wondering whether I would have anyone to comfort me, to look at me and with just their eyes, with the sight in front of me of someone that cares about me looking at me, make me think, even if it might be a complete and total lie, that everything was going to be all right. I choke sometimes on water or food and think that if I were to die choking on some small thing in my living room that one of my friends would have thought, maybe even many of my friends, to their own relationship status and thought, depending on either whether they were in a relationship or not, "I could have died just as sad a death as him, alone, had I not have had x to come to my rescue and do the Heimlich maneuver on me," or "I am going to choke to death on Doritos I consumed when too drunk and too quickly, and no one will be there to help and that only once the smell becomes too bad after a week or so will some neighbor call the police who will then find my rotting body next to a half empty bag of the 99 cent size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos."
She said she was going to be fine and then said she had even more bad news. I wondered what else she could present that would be worse news. One of my aunts has a brain tumor that they found and are going to try to operate on in a few days. She described the process to me, said they would start to operate and partly through the procedure they would stop to make sure my aunt still had proper brain functions and would either stop or continue the operation at that point.
I am confronted with mortality, of what it is to be alive, and how precarious a concept that is, that it's all temporary and short, some of the moments just slightly less temporary, slightly less short than the others. I just want to hug everyone.
Needless to say, I was less than in the mood for the needs of rich people in my service industry job today. I spent the day looking at pictures of various beaches in Puerto Rico and could not wait to dive into the ocean, to move so freely through the elements, to swim seal-like under water, to escape.
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