Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paying--Too Much--Attention

I can get a little crazy in the land of Love and Cancer. There can be such a thing, I think, as too much intimacy: When John goes to the bathroom in the early morning I listen. I try not to but I do. Oh yuck, I know, but true.

I am paying attention to the sounds. Does he take a long time? diarrhea? constipation? I listen and gauge. I’m worried about his colon. The part he’s missing and the part he still has. When we are making love and my face is inches from his scrotum and I see the small patch of brown skin I wonder. “How long has that been there? melanoma? testicular cancer? His cough in the morning; normal? allergy? lung cancer?

Saint Paul said, “I die daily”, and he meant surrender. I kill John daily, and that means the sad vigilance of cancer and caregiving.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cancer Men

This is just too good! I found this when searching for info on love and cancer:

Cancer men are incredibly appealing to many women. Cancers seem to have insight into what makes a woman fall in love. They are creative, passionate and loyal. When you meet a cancer for the first time you may be instantly smitten. They have been known to sweep a woman off her feet after only a few short dates.

Le Marriage

We are married. A small wedding. Our families and the close friends who have been our support for several years. Laughter, tears, cancer as a wedding guest—everyone recognized cancer as one of the attendants. We wrote vows that included being faithful—yes, I know—and that included “in sickness and in health”—knowing what that really means. We had great food, a lot of poetry, books, statues of Mary, our dear stuffed Babar and blue ribbons everywhere.

Then we flew to Paris and walked and ate and walked and ate and made love with windows wide open in the City of Lights.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Yesterday, August 15th, John and I were married. A small ceremony in a school house. Family and friends with us. Beautiful flowers. Lots of laughter. Great cake. And this poem:

“Afternoon, in a Back Yard on Chestnut Street,” by David Keller

Here are a man and a woman, being married.

The entire world of summer lawns

holds its breath for the event. The trees

around them are lovely, displaying the small

breath and motions of August. The couple glance

at one another. Where has the moon gone,

the requisite moon? Nearby, a mother

begs her child, “Try to remember;

when did you have it last?” Oh,

impossible mystery. Where is joy

when it is not here? Time says nothing.

These things can happen, and will,

while children at the yard’s border play

among grown-ups tasting the summer’s wine.

Memory looks at its watch, smiling.

The moon will begin to come round

the way it always did but we’d forgotten.

The lovers touch hands and think of

some place they want to be, and go there.

The child, happy at last,

has remembered where its lost ball is.

In the garden the pink phlox and the lilies

show off, between the old moon

here in the hot sky and the one to come.

Everyone hugs or shakes hands

and walks off toward the future, waving.

The man and woman look at each other.

They know it means happiness, this year. They do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Hero

I’ve been debating all day about whether I can write this. “Too corny”, I thought. And “maybe I won’t feel this way tomorrow”. No, of course not; I’ll feel something else tomorrow. But today—all day—I thought, “He is my hero”.

John is my hero. We have been through so much crap with cancer and divorce and just life in the past two years that I sometimes forget that we have been friends for more than ten years. Ten years of coffee and books and ideas and laughter and too many cookies and cupcakes and hearing each other’s work questions and the juggling of reading and writing for both of us. We met as teachers and became friends, pals, annoyances, confidants, secret fantasies, outright fantasies, refusals, comforters, advisors, infatuations, lovers and partners. But always friends.

Now hero.

He is my hero.

Corny? Yes. But after all of the above corny is great!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The High Cost of Not Dying

It may be too hard to read if you have cancer but if you have a loved one with cancer you must read the Annals of Medicine article by Atul Gawande in the August 2 2010 issue of the New Yorker magazine.

With compelling stories and plenty of grey in a black and white world Gawande invites us to consider what it means to be dying—especially of cancer—when there is no end of treatments and procedures that can be tried, applied and administered.

Most interesting is his challenge to us about how death itself has changed because we no longer stop and let a person experience it.

This excellent essay walks us through the very high cost of cancer in both dollars and healthcare system costs and the cost to us as people when we treat cancer as a problem to be fixed. We lose not just dollars but part of our humanity—and for those of us who care for or have cared for someone with cancer—we lose an essential piece of being a loved one in the truest sense of that term.

This August 2 issue is on newsstands or at your local library. Check it out. Make copies to share with friends. Talk about it now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

If My Husband Ever...

“If my husband ever…”. Yes, with each round of celebrity infidelity we engage in the age-old game of, “If my husband ever…”. At 56, I’ve played this many times at lunch tables and water coolers and sitting on the floor in a girl friend’s living room. But at 56 I’ve also taken enough early morning phone calls from many of those same friends to know that even if you think you know what you’d do if you discovered a partner’s infidelity, you don’t.

Some leave at once, some never leave, some forgive, some don’t. Sometimes the ones that forgive stay but sometimes leaving is the route to forgiveness. Most chilling, I think, are those that never leave, never separate and never forgive. They keep up appearances—maybe are even envied by others for their perfect marriages which are glued together with hatred and spite.

The agony of infidelity does not discriminate. There is enough to go around. I’ve played all the parts: scorned wife, secret lover, other woman—and the friend who knew. There are no winners. No one has more or less pain.

Now, a new novel comes pretty close to accurately depicting each of those points of view. It’s a great read and even better as a book on CD to listen to in the car or at the beach.

If you have ever said, “I’d never” to any part of the extramarital triangle take a look at: “Heart of the Matter” by Emily Giffen.