It’s not going to happen all at once. At first, there will be a routine test, a stray meeting with a doctor, a couple of utterances of that dreaded word — cancer, but you won’t understand what it means in the moment. It will start with one procedure, a surgery, some chemo, and it will be the hardest time of your life. You’ll spend nights at the hospital holding her hand while she’s in unimaginable pain. You’ll choke back your tears while you try to sing to her to calm her down. Or, maybe the first procedure will be a cakewalk. You’ll breeze through it. Either way, once you’re through it, you will hope that you never have to deal with it again, and you’ll, stupidly, forget about it and go on with your life.
And that’s your first mistake. Before you know it, in an avalanche of months and medical facts, cancer will take over your life. Whether you weather it yourself, or with a loved one, whether it holds you in its grip for two years or ten, you’ll start to live always looking over your shoulder. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. You’ll stop planning fun things, you’ll just wait, with bated breath. When is it going to go all wrong again, you’ll ask the sky. And the sky will just stare back.
I hope you will reach a day when you realize that between two instances when your world fell apart, you had 6 months in which to cram all the living and the love. You had 6 months of stealing joy from under the nose of death. Maybe you will learn to live on that knife-edge between joy and devastation.
One day you look around you and you see the people you grew up with getting married, having kids, buying houses, retiring, going on holidays with their grandkids. Nobody has any idea how to talk to you, the black sheep, the one that walks around talking to darkness. And soon enough, you’ll stop expecting them to try.
You will never be like the others, because you have stared loss in the face and escaped, or maybe you drowned in the ocean of loss and are shipwrecked upon the shore. Small grievances will cease to bother you, it now takes a chainsaw, and not just a knife to hurt you. As you live the rest of your days seeing the one you lost, out of the corner of your eye, maybe you’ll succeed out of spite, an F-U to the forces that you couldn’t tame and are forced to rub shoulders with everyday.
You will never be like the others who don’t know grief, but they will be like you, someday.