My mom and I spent most of the day yesterday at Lord & Taylor. Retail therapy works. Cashmere sweaters on sale make me happy. But the truth is, no matter how we fill our days with distractions and things that bring some measure of comfort, no matter how superficial those things may be, I have to work hard to keep the fear and anxiety from finding a way back in.
I’m afraid of the wait. Afraid of how it’s going to set me back. It’s an emotional thing, really. A two week delay from my original surgery date is not going to have any bearing on the progression of disease, but it’s definitely going to mess with my mind. It is messing with my mind. Wednesday night mom and I met friends for a quick drink after dinner. We were talking about things we could do in the next 10 days or so to make the time pass quickly. I know I should embrace some of these offers, make plans, build a chain of distractions, but my heart isn’t in it. I don’t want to try to get last minute tickets to the Moth Series in Brooklyn, or spend an evening in the city listening to bands. I want my surgery. I want to be recovering. I want this to be over. I can’t commit to anything. At night I am only comfortable curled up on the couch under a blanket.
I’m a little nervous too, about being in crowds. Everyone is sick. Coughing, sneezing — I’m not a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, but even the slightest sign of illness, a low grade temperature, a cough, will delay my surgery even more. I won’t be able to survive that. I simply can’t risk it, I can’t get sick. The flu that is leveling people for a week or more would absolutely do me in. Spending the evening in a crowded movie theater or auditorium doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do right now.
I know some of what I’m feeling is the anxiety, the panic, the fear of the surgery itself, and some is just my imagination running away with me. Perspective is a hard thing to come by and hold on to under the circumstances. I’m more likely to get sick from hugging my son (who spends his days in a germ-infested petri dish aka high school) than I am from going to see a movie, but I can’t shake the uneasiness. I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, there’s no guardrail, the ground beneath my feet is uneven.
For a long while yesterday, I forgot about the cancer. I was happy to be out with my mom, to be shopping, to be spending time together. It’s such a rare treat to have her here, to be together like this for days on end. When we are together in the summer, we are pulled in so many different directions. There is less of that here — it’s just us. So in some ways, this time, this waiting, is a gift, something to be grateful for.
Yet, there is still the dark side of the waiting, the piece of it that unnerves me. That unnerves all of us, really.
And I don’t know what to do about that.