Monday, January 27, 2014

The Unanswerable Question

How ARE you?

Truly, it’s strange that such a simple question is so hard to answer. On a day-to-day level, it changes all the time. If you ask me in passing, the answer might be a simple status report: “fine,” “not bad,” “a little tired,” or “crappy.” If we are sitting together over a cup of tea, I might go a little deeper, talking about how treatment takes a toll over time, or about how my kids are doing. But this doesn’t really get to the heart of the question.

Because the heart of the question has to do with the bizarre incongruence between how I look, which is seemingly fit, normal, with no outward signs of illness, and the dire diagnosis that I’ve been given. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t make sense. And no matter how many times we try to make the two truths intersect, it is never less challenging to find that ven diagram where “She just hiked 11 miles” and “She has advanced breast cancer” overlap. Believe me, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

I’m fine for now. I went to yoga this morning. We took the kids boogie-boarding last weekend when it was 82 degrees in Morro Bay. We sat on the patio at night and looked at the stars. At the same time, I get an ache in my hip and I wonder to myself, “am I sore from yoga?... or is that bone metastasis?” I can be in the middle of cooking a meal and laughing with friends, and still, in another register of my mind, there is a constant monologue going, a thrum of “how long will this last?”