APADIA 10: Little Faith
(What’s APADIA? See here.)
I first found out that I still had a trace of cancer on the one-year anniversary of my surgery.
I went to see a concert that night with my then boyfriend, my friend, and her then husband. It’s a perfectly good band that makes lovely music and I’m sure they’re delightful people. But I’ve never listened to them again and I never will.
I took the call from my doctor on my way to the show. Why did I still go out? Idiot’s inertia, I suppose. I sat through a couple of hours in the dark, trying to breathe, ignoring everything around me, until they played this song.
I’m not linking to a performance of it, because just looking up the song is making me panic. I can’t catch my breath as I’m typing this. I feel the same now as I did then – sitting in the dark listening to guitar players waxing all fucking poetic to a bunch of hipsters about how artistic it is to imagine yourself dying alone and afraid.
But it isn’t. Not really.
Death in the abstract is a lovely conceit: a trope, good to move any narrative along, to tug the heartstrings. Puccini, Michelangelo, Shakespeare. The grand masters along with the awful hacks. If you’re not making art about love, you’re making it about death.
Being human means being transient. We are none of us here forever. We all know this. But we don’t always have to face our transience. The frailty of our scaffolding is usually hidden from us.
I know what recurrences look like. I have lain in beds next to them. I have seen dear friends die of them. There is nothing poetic there.
I’m not in remission, I never have been, and I’ve been told I never will be. Yet I could be absolutely fine for the rest of my life, God willing, and I may be. Perhaps all of the panic, all of these balls of fear in the dark, are a waste, silliness to be so frightened, so faithless and afraid. Perhaps not. But perhaps.
I’m used to it. Except when I’m not. Sometimes, the weight of it crushes me. I’ve gotten used to that, too, in its own way. I know it’ll pass. It’s here now, but I’m noticing the sunset over the trees. I’ll go to bed. I’ll wake up. Someone will make me laugh.
Life goes on, even when you know that someday, ideally someday very far away, it won’t. That IS life.