Things to Do - Perhaps This Is Middle Age

At the beginning of spring I always seem to write a post saying how winter exhausted me, which seems so cliched and simplistic. But here I am again, dissing on winter.

My father died two years ago, in February, so the whole month just sort of hangs over things, like a leaky roof. I've managed to forget the exact date of his death, as I figured knowing it would serve no real purpose. But, in retrospect, maybe this wasn't my wisest decision (is decision the right word? can one really decide to forget?) as now I blame 28 days for his loss, rather than one calendar square. People respond to cancer in so many different ways - some raise money and walk or become advocates for certain forms of the disease, whereas I just wanted to forget cancer for awhile, like an old enemy, I wanted it gone. Unfortunately, with cancer, such plans rarely work out.

This February (dreadful, dreadful month that it is) our dermatologist called to inform Dan that a biopsied mole tested positive for melanoma. He would need surgery and he would need tests, to see how far the cancer had spread. After a call like that your life becomes a sort of waiting room, as you balance on a tightrope between normal and not normal. You check your life insurance policies while you continue to plan summer vacations. You tell yourself everything is the same and then you spend all day reflecting on what "the same" really means. But basically you just wait, a lot.

Then in March a good friend and neighbor's husband passed away after an 18 month struggle with brain cancer. They have two children, both in grade school. He had coached his son's soccer teams. An architect by trade, he renovated the oldest house on the block (it looks amazing). Although I did not know him very well, I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him. Nobody in the neighborhood can talk about his death without becoming teary eyed. At the funeral all the seats filled quickly and people overflowed into the aisles of the chapel. Such events are heavy. Very heavy.

In the meantime, we met with Dan's "team" (an oncologist, a surgeon, and a plastic surgeon), who seemed competent enough. I reflected on how odd it felt to have a "team." Everyone told us to stay off the internet, we did not stay off the internet. We bought anti-cancer books and changed our diet. We waited.

Dan underwent surgery (on his leg) on the Friday before spring break, which involved ten days of bed rest while the kids were home from school (tricky). During the surgery, they tested his lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread and two weeks ago we - FINALLY - found out that it hasn't. I am relieved. We all are relieved. But yet, the feeling still lingers, as if we've lucked out and found a good hiding place during hide and seek. As if something is still chasing us.

And perhaps this is middle age. All of a sudden, Keisha's "Cause we're gonna die young" song becomes the most insipid thing you've ever heard in your life (and yet you find yourself jealous of her naivitee). You start to realize that there are no more weddings to attend, instead, you contemplate possible divorces. You go to funerals. Doctors seem more important all of a sudden. Moles become scarier than ever, little black bombs waiting to detonate. And life seems like a gift. An enormous amazing gift. Never again something to be taken for granted.


  1. So glad your husband is OK. x

  2. Darcy, I'm so sorry to learn you guys went through this...but happy to hear that it all turned out okay. You are so right - life is an enormous, amazing gift. It seems we are reminded of that more and more these days.

  3. I love this. I feel exactly the same way -- I attended two funerals last month, one for an amazing 30-year-old woman who I still can't believe is gone, but the last wedding I went to was almost three years ago. I had a total panic attack at 5am the other morning as I was sitting next to S's crib soothing him back to sleep -- am I going to live long enough to see him off to preschool this fall? To kindergarten? Will I be around when his voice deepens and he gets lanky and awkward? Will I help him move to college? Will I see him find love? Get married? Will I meet his babies? It's like walking toward the edge of a cliff and not knowing quite when the next step is your last.
    So I am trying to be more present. More available. More vulnerable. More open. Living with love and joy. And embracing these fleeting moments, just in case I fall off the cliff tomorrow.



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