So we’re back in New York City. The tumor has made a reappearance in Guy’s bladder and he is in surgery as I write this. The oncologist has assured us that there are many treatment options to still try, that there is every reason to not even think about giving up hope. This is what I’m holding onto right now. That, my faith, and my loved ones. Still, the pit of my stomach doesn’t like this news.
I’m sitting by the window, looking down at midtown traffic and scattered Christmas decorations, the only color in a sea of gray. A sprinkling of snow would glitter things up a little, but Guy is cranky enough when he comes out of anesthesia – no way would I want to tell him we have to travel home in the snow.
Across the street, kids play a raucous game in their fenced-in school yard. They don’t know how I’m feeling, and even if they did know, they couldn’t understand. Life is fleeting. Health is fragile. I look at all the small heads in stocking caps and furry hoods and send down a blessing, a prayer that they will never understand how I feel right now.
I’m in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a place I’ve become sickeningly familiar with as this is Guy’s third surgery in the past four months. The waiting room is full of people. Like I told my mother, I find that good news and bad. Good because it means these doctors are good at what they do. Bad because wow, so many people have cancer.
I have Guy’s glasses on top of my head and his wedding ring on my thumb. It feels weird, wearing these pieces of him that are so much a part of who he is, while he is nowhere in sight.
I wonder how many people sitting around me are in the same boat with me, waiting for the nurse to come out and call their name, and how many people are in Guy’s boat, out cold but knowing as they were going under that there is something growing inside them that doesn’t belong there. Something that has cost some people everything. Everyone in this room is in one boat or the other, a fact that makes me feel simultaneously comforted and sad. I’m resisting the urge to move around the room and hug everyone right now. How did this happen to all of us?
There’s a young woman with long hair and sparkly gold sneakers, two older women who are both talking without appearing to breathe at all, a man in an expensive-looking suit, another man I swear I’ve seen on TV, a woman wearing black suede boots and eating orange slices out of a sandwich bag, an elderly man who is tipped completely to the side in his chair and snoring in an oddly musical way. Old, young, black, white, couples, singles, men, women. Wherever we all were and whatever we were all doing yesterday, or last week, or last year, right now we are all here. A few cells go haywire and just like that, the playing field is level. What a price to pay to be one with each other.
Love big, my friends. Call someone. Hug someone. Forgive someone. Love as big as you can, and then love a little more. In the end, it’s all we’ve got.