The real question for me today, however, is – how can I live well? Let me count the ways (apologies to Elizabeth Barratt Browning). I just don’t know how to live with secondary cancer and it’s not as if I can just be because that doesn’t seem possible, either. I find it very difficult to explain or describe how it feels to be in my situation. I talk to bereaved friends and tell them there is no one way to mourn someone, no right way, just the way you do it. I should apply the same logic and empathy to myself but I find it difficult. I suppose I am mourning my loss of life – the things ahead of me which I will never be around to see or do. And not knowing when that point will come is, of course, a real bugbear with me as I am a real planner. At the same time, when someone does advance a tentative theory as to how long I might live, I rail against it and feel murderous. The bottom line is I don’t want to die of cancer and not having any choice in the matter I find very difficult. Another stick to beat myself with is worrying about the future instead of getting on with the here and now. Taking time to smell the daisies, coffee or whatever you choose.
In my birth family, idleness is seen as a huge crime so relaxing and watching the world go by often leaves me feeling gulity, that I’ve missed out on something else I should be doing. Old family messages are horrible things. Strong, identifiable and yet difficult to get rid of. You would think by now I could just say “Fuck it” but there’s still a little gritty bit of something inside me that rubs and yet, unlike the oyster, it won’t produce any pearls. Today I try a limited amount of screaming, upsetting the dogs and Mr Mason and possibly bewildering the neighbours. The latter I don’t mind about but all screaming really leaves me with is a headache and sore throat, no peace.
Eventually I manage to get myself on track. I spend a long time in the shower, making the water as hot as I can stand and that feels good. I potter around the garden with the dogs which eventually leads to a little weeding and then picking up windfalls and then we are sorting and wrapping apples for the winter. As I write, Mr Mason is in the kitchen peeling and chopping apples for our various ways of preserving them. A couple of years ago, I would have led the preserving charge with verve and enthusiasm. These days, I don’t quite have the spark. Not at the moment, anyway. But things can always change.
And having put a tremendous amount of faith into a politician, my message for Jeremy Corbyn today is this: