I am sitting by a Zen-like creek in New Jersey (a delightful commuter trip away from Manhattan) watching an egret swimming along the water bobbing for a snack.
I am at peace, but it is a strange peace.
For one thing, minor ailments begin to crowd out major ones:
- The allergies of spring assault my nose.
- My left eye tears.
- Whatever illusions I have of dignity disappear as I search my pockets for a dry tissue.
The larger issue of CANCER does not appear as real to me.
I have none of the symptoms of renal cancer (yet?)—just the radiologist’s report and the CAT-scan itself. (While preparing to go to New York, PH [to help me out] picked up the disc duplicating the scan from Mt. Nittany Medical Center which I carried with me to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; the disc now sits at the bottom of my book bag.)
Any time I like, I can insert the CAT-scan disc into a computer and view the tumor surrounding my right kidney—a view I have seen once and feel no desire to view again—dramatic as it might be to take a screen shot and show you. Ah technology!
Ever since I posted the news that I have renal cancer, I have received an outpouring of emotional support so intense it surprises.
I am loved; I am.
Reluctantly, I leave the egrets, take the ferry to New York and go to the Morgan Library to view a Mozart manuscript—a manuscript Wolfgang Amadeus wrote himself.
Last time I was treated for cancer, I surrounded myself with Mozart—with the piano sonatas and with trios and quartets—nothing involving more than five instruments played regally. I wrote a poem on one reality I have learned in this life: You cannot get enough Mozart. He was a talented guy.
Taking Megabus back home to State College, I search intensely for the reporter’s notebook in which I have written EVERYTHING. The message arrives on my iPhone. The notebook is safe. It was left behind in New York. [Freud is clear on this subject.] The notebook will be in tomorrow’s mail.
The relief that won’t be in tomorrow’s mail….
The relief that won’t be in tomorrow’s mail is the banishment of fear.
I can define the fear with olfactory precision—the way one knows the smell of a pine but cannot use language to describe. The fear is an odor of decay—a mold-like substance that infects the battery of my power operated vehicle so I cannot move and have neither the cash nor the energy to call T & B Medical on Atherton Street for repair or replacement.
The fear originates from:
- Unwashed dishes in the sink
- Dirty floors
- Soiled clothes
- An empty refrigerator
- The refusal/inability to do anything else but rerun the same movie over and over on Netflix
I am afraid of losing my independence, of losing the ability to take care of myself, of being unable to think or write or contribute.
I am, at 65, afraid of being confined in a nursing home, having pills doled out on a regular schedule.
Compared to fear of this sort, Big Things do not matter. Either the cancer will kill me—which I do not believe—or it won’t. Death is a minor fear compared to sickness, infirmity and ennui.
I am glad that soon the Megabus will return me to my apartment and to the work I honor.
Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.
This posting is the third part of the ongoing story of my third cancer–kidney cancer, a story that follows this expanding outline:
3. https://joelsolkoff.com/my-fear-of-the-future/ [You are here.]