Posted in #atozchallenge, April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

X is for X’ed Out of Our Future: #atozchallenge Day 24

 

Sign X Away

X marks the spot

X the place to sign

Sign we’re losing him

Sign of a changing future

Future a little darker

Future schism approaches

Approaches with the crazed growth

Approaches with multiplying cells

Cells that mark the spots

Cells that create spots

Spots on his pancreas and liver

Spots on the emergency room screen

Screen the predicts the future dimly

Screen that offered fictional hope

Hope that it was only a fatty liver

Hope it was a minor sign of aging

Aging love growing

Aging love deepening

Deepening understanding of who we are

Deepening ability to communicate

Communicate a love that remains

Coommunicate a love that sustains

Sustains us as we face his illness

Sustains us through devastation

Devastation marked out with an X

Devastation growing near and swift

Swift passage of time flies by

Swift moving cancer ravaging

Ravaging his once-strong body

Ravaging this man I love

Love can’t cure him

Love can be an embrace

Embrace while we have the chance

Embrace what is as best we can

Can this strange nightmare be true

Can we still find pockets of joy

Joy marked out in X’s and O’s

Joy an art form in times like this

This is life wrapped in death

This is death still clothed in life

Life twists and weaves

Life lived at two speeds at once

Once we thought life almost a dream

Once we thought we’d grow old together

Together we face this concrete reality

Together until death came and he slipped away

Away from disease and away from great pain

Away from wife and children and life’s promise

Promise

Pain

It all started to change on August 24, 2017 – although we didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, and, by then, it was already well in progress in its hidden state.

The what was Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had made a leap to Jim’s liver. We’ll never know how long it lurked there, unnoticed – but Jim had been feeling less than great more often for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, before that day.

I remember the date so well because it was the day after our twentieth anniversary. We’d gone out to dinner, just the two of us, and eaten rich foods.

The next evening, he told me, rather casually, that his right side had been bothering him all day, but the pain was intensifying, and now he was worried that it might be appendicitis. The pain didn’t go away, and then he had a spell of vomiting and severe chill, and I all but insisted we were going to the emergency room.

That’s where we first heard about the spot.

It came, couched in comforting language, and after the likely diagnosis of a sludgy gall bladder irritated by the rich anniversary meal…”and we found a small spot on your liver. It’s probably fatty liver disease, but you should have it checked out in the next week or so with your primary care physician, to rule out cancer.”

Yup. It was just that casual, the moment that changed our lives.

Jim didn’t check into it with his doctor. Maybe he was already worried it might be true, and didn’t want confirmation. Maybe he thought that, since he had an answer, and he’d struggled with his weight most of his life, so fatty liver made sense. I can’t say, because, when I mentioned it, he basically dismissed it by saying that he hadn’t talked to her yet, but he would.

So it would be mid-November, almost 3 months later, before he received that terminal diagnosis. Would it have been better to have known sooner, to have been able to trace back all his odd health complaints in the intervening weeks to that one deadly source?

It’s hard to say. He was increasingly plagued by belly pain he thought was maybe an ulcer, or the sludgy gall bladder again. He was constipated more often than not. Occasionally, he vomited, but attributed it to the stomach pain. He never said so to me until after he was diagnosed, but he was increasingly exhausted, and his appetite faded.

Looking backward, it seems obvious, but it wasn’t at the time.

We were growing his hot-sauce business – a dream he’d had since before I met him –  and took our first romantic weekend away, to Acadia National Park, which was a dream from early in our marriage.  In truth, we argued rather a lot, but it seemed to clear air that had long been heavy – one of those places in a marriage where we needed to clean house – and things felt better, after that.

He decided to get to the root of not feeling good. He had a colonoscopy, which, to our relief, was negative. But, at the same time, his right leg was swelling painfully, and, eventually, he went to the emergency room, was admitted with deep vein thrombosis that probably would have killed him in days if left untreated, and then the diagnosis of terminal cancer was made – the culprit of all those random, seemingly minor, concerns.

But it was that first X – the spot on the emergency room ultrasound screen, that ultimately X’ed Jim out of the future we’d hoped to share.

Check out our next post, when I say, “You are always a part of us,” to my late husband.

X marks the spot for more extraordinary X posts.

Author:

I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

3 thoughts on “X is for X’ed Out of Our Future: #atozchallenge Day 24

  1. It’s so hard to balance life and living with the possibility of something untreatable. And you never do get answers to those questions, but you’re an amazing example of someone who keeps going in the face of a struggle.

    1. My basic premise is that if something terrible happens, dwelling n the worst aspects of it only makes me more miserable.

      If I can find some positive, however small, I can see possibilities. That feels a lot better, and I know that’s what Jim wanted for the three of us..

      And, in the end, we all die. There are never any guarantees for any of us.. Accepting that has been a key. I wasn’t cheated out of our imagined future; I was blessed with over two decades to be married to my best friend.

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