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By Narcissa Lyons


Life is tenuous, teasing, and flirts too often with death even when we don’t know it, but if we are living right we don’t think about that too often. If we are living to enjoy life, we do not dwell on the fact it could end at any moment, because let’s face it–it does.  All the time all over the world.  I know there are poor souls out there that do obsess on this tenuousness, and therefore are not really living as I think God meant us to, but I would bet most of us only dwell on it when we go to a funeral or hear of an untimely death of anyone we know, or anyone famous.  Point made by me and absorbed by you I assume.

But there are other times you might jump to nasty conclusions, imagine the worst thing you can in order to prepare for it. I had to have a biopsy done on one of my breasts, and it was not my first for what I  have now (not lovingly) come to refer to as “troublesome lefty”.    I would not have written this article if I’d received bad news, so breathe easy, I won’t be depressing you or myself, for that matter.  When the nurse showed me this new patch of whatever, I liked it less than I admitted, looked different.  To me.  As if I know anything about these things.  So when she told me I needed the biopsy but that more likely than not it was nothing, I believed her.  At first.

The biopsy itself was one thing, but I had to wait 7 days to get the results, and when you know there is a 20% chance that it could be cancer, seven days is a fucking long time.  I mean a really fucking long time.  Women get breast cancer all the time, get benign results even more, so why is it such a big deal when it hits you?  Me.  Well you’re older, your fear of death more realistic since you’ve flipped through more calendars than you’d care to admit.  You have complained more regularly than you probably should about the things that suck in your life, and if it’s so bad then why wouldn’t you deserve to suffer a little for real just to teach yourself how to be happy again?  I’m not sure this makes sense, but I’m analyzing as I write.

And then 7 days is plenty of time to go on the internet and look up really stupid things. I learned about the four stages of breast cancer, the fourth one not actually curable, just qualitatively improvable, whatever the shit that means.  Oh, and there is “end stage”, fairly self explanatory.  Going to work was actually almost bliss, since being busy stops this particularly stupid web surfer from thinking about the possibilities.  I had so distraught myself one evening that I went to sit and watch what someone had left on the television–the intricate relationship of snow monkeys in the Japanese Alps, and then didn’t stop watching the consoling station until I went to bed.  Interesting bunch with all the simplicities they handle day to day, and then and there I envied their connected struggles and the intimacy with which they managed the wilderness.  Why are we humans so complex, thought provoked, convinced this is why we are more supreme than animals?  I grow less and less sure over time that complexity is more enjoyable, because here we are. As we’ve all evolved, animals included, knowing more than the beasts that roam is more the burden, more the bane.

I found my rings during that 7 day abyss. This was a set of five rings I had lost about 8 months ago for which I’d searched high and low, actually stooped to going to three different jewelry stores to ask if I’d already dropped them off for the respective repairs they all needed.  I am one of many women who put things in a safe place only to forget that safe place, so I finally wrote them off about two months ago, crying, since one was my extremely nice engagement ring.  Anyway, I found my rings, like I was saying.  I did a mini shreak and shed a grateful tear or two, getting firm hugs from my husband and sons for this little piece of glee they realized I was experiencing.

But then my mind shook me earthquake still. These had been missing for 8 long months, so why were they turning up now during my seven day suspension?  Maybe God had let me find them for the obvious reason that people notably are buried wearing their favorite jewelry.  Yup.  That’s where I went.

I thought about the usual things….how to spend a good portion of the money I had earned until this point since it wouldn’t be for retirement above ground, how I did not think my husband would begrudge us more travel than usual, and I thought about having to repeat the story over and over again, and rebuff some of the unending pity and soulful eyes at which I’d have to look. I thought about  what clothing I’d start to wear, that I could get more audacious than I am, get away with more, drink more, obviously re-dabble in drugs.  I think there have been many stories and movies on just this subject, and I don’t think any of them are ridiculous.   I haven’t seen them all, but having seen a hint of the death promise can understand any reaction is possible.  I cringe for those that do more than glimpse, that fall into the wrong percentile and really do face the battle.  Not just cancer, but any perilous illness through which one realizes one must  travel, and the mental havoc it wreaks. God Bless us all.

I was lucky this time, skated away with a stupid ceramic chip to mark the occasion, and less than a day later the house had the same buzz, my pace at work the same, my gaze, after the two obligatory cups of coffee, not wandering off but focused on the next issue someone brought through my door.  Just like that.

So I can talk  about enjoying shit, going to concerts and pretty nights out, turning up the music to frazzle the eardrums, touching often the ones you love, inhaling the smell of wet cement in summer and listening to rain pelting on the roof, because I’ve done it before, but nothing really emphasizes it like a glimpse of that infamous flash.  May we all be present in as many moments as we can, and may most of them be exquisite, even if otherwise ordinary.

As always, Be Thee Well.