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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On waiting

I woke yesterday afternoon after sleeping. The bedroom was in the gloom of overcast midwinter, curtains drawn. 5 pm. The house was quiet. I turned on the bedlamp.

It was either no news or bad news. If no news, Tracey wouldn't have disturbed me. If bad news, she would also have waited till I got up. I imagined if it were good, she would have come in the moment she knew the light was on.

So, one or the other of the first two. I really expected us to hear something, so it didn't augur well. I lay there for some time.

For the first time in this entire affair, I felt very nervous.

It may seem strange, but this was somehow a comfort. I have always wondered about my abnormal state of mind about it all – a calmness that meant, once the tumour was diagnosed in December 2009, either that I had in some miraculous way accepted all that was to come, or that I was refusing to accept the reality staring me in the face all this time.

The latter is not a pleasant thought, because it means that it would hit sometime, very hard, and the whole edifice of apparent acceptance would come crashing down.

So I was nervous. I washed my face carefully, combed my hair and shaved, as if I would be greeting some stranger when I emerged from the bedroom.

I went out, and Tracey and Christian were in the lounge, talking quietly. The fire makes it beautifully warm in there. I take a deep breath and enter the lounge.

It's quick. "No news." It was after five o'clock, so there would be no news from Oncology.

I felt a rush of relief. Too much relief, as it meant that I didn't want to face what may come. I wanted an adjournment. But, I thought as I stood there, it meant also that if the news were bad, I really wouldn't need to know till we had to. I was calmed by the reassurance of knowing nothing.

A nice self-deception.

I suppose when you imagine facing your worst fear, there's a limit to how truly you can do that. Imagining facing a lion in the Coliseum may be terrifying, but nothing, absolutely nothing like the reality.

Still, as I write this, we don't know, but even before I get it up here on the blog the phone might ring. For some reason I badly want to post this before we know.

I feel calm again. Writing this has settled me. Whether it's acceptance or denial, I guess we'll really see this time, but it's certain at least that I feel less assured.

Maybe that's good. Who knows? Tata kim, we might say in Sanskrit. What use?


  1. I am reading your note from a faraway place and pondering your statement about imagination being nothing like the reality. You also noted writing had a calming effect. Is it because the words that we create entwine us with what is out there? Does it build a bridge in time?

    I think about you often my friend. Dipen

    1. Dipen - one of the best men of the planet; celebrated astrophysicist, writer.... I could go on, but I will have embarrassed you enough by praise already. I think you are right about that linking. Maybe it's also the need to link with the minds of all who are willing to listen and share or empathise experiences. Or disagree. A world where we all agreed would be uncomfortable in many ways and nothing would ever advance.

      Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  2. I wish I could write with your clarity.I am waiting too. To hear about you, as I do when I check in every morning, and to farewell my precious mother, who is dying slowly. Each day brings a slightly altered scenario. I don't know what the day or night will hold. Will I be driving into town at 11 at night to watch the belaboured breathing again till dawn, or wake to the phone at 7 in the morning to hear she has gone? Should I stay there continually (but I am so tired). She knows when I am there. She can still smile. Her mind is as humourous and clever as it ever was, though often she will awake from a long day's journey on the train. She is only distressed because she wants to provide food for me, make me afternoon tea.We sing songs together. She is 89 years old, and has been dying in many stages for six years. But this is the week she will finally leave, the week of my 60th birthday.So we're all in this strange space where the world goes on but everything is different.

    love, Julie xx

    1. Bidding our parents goodbye when they drift in and out of consciousness and daily life in old age must be the hardest thing. You want them to stay while they are comfortable and living in and share the same world. You wish them peace and, at some stage, a quick journey out of here for their own sake. It's natural to want that but drains all your energy and emotional strength. Take some time to recover afterwards. You will need to.

      We are both thinking of you. 60, huh? What a baby....

    2. She's resilient! Amazing everyone again:) I trust YOU will amaze us for quite a while to come,my friend and teacher.

      Julie xx


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