I Am Sick.
I cannot remember when I started taking my “make me better pills,” but I recently started swallowing them with my hot, black coffee. It adds a special flavor to teh bitterness. I think it melts quicker, absorbs better.
Today will be a good day. I won’t be sick today. I will remember to smile and pretend I am like everyone else. I have learned to pretend quite well, just like when I was a child…I used to fantasize that I was married, a house full of children’s laughter, a dog barking at squirrels playing…Oh, the white picket fence…perfection in my mind.
8:40 a.m. I’m late. I click off the kitchen lights. The room is dimly lit with the light of the fish tank. No time to remind myself of the cruelty in keeping fish confined for my pleasure.
My routine stroll to the bus is replaced with a hurried walk. No time to smoke. No time to replay my fantasy about how life could be. Both are a hidden blessing.
Route 81. I settle into the hard, orange seat by the window. On my left, I search the passing of the small, yellow brick houses through the smoked glass. I am not in here. I am in there. My life is different…it is filled with children’s laughter, a dog barking at squirrels…
“Stone Park,” calls the conductor. I would choose where to get off. The front doors open to a cracked and uneven concrete sidewalk, surrounding an anonymous building. The street light changes, and I cross to wait for the eastbound Route 12. I am not sick. I am going to the clinic for a well baby check…Isn’t she beautiful? Yesterday, when I was changing her diaper, she learned how to roll over. I thought she would roll right off the table. Oh, I think she said “da-da” too. Isn’t she beautiful? We want to have three more! That should fill the little, yellow house.
The Route 12 bus hollers to a stop in front of me. Reluctantly I climb aboard, finding a seat without a window. The reality of my clinic visit is creeping into my thoughts. No, I’m not sick! I am going to the clinic because we think I’m pregnant again. Cancer…We hope it will be a boy. My brain screams louder. We will name him Arthur, just like his daddy. I am not sick. He will be strong. I will have a good day, today. He will be happy.
“Medical Row,” calls the conductor. The bus doors open to a cobble-stoned path, surrounded by a perfectly trim, lush, green lawn. The strangeness in my legs betray my steps. I grasp the door handle to steady myself. The brisk spring air is refreshing on my hot skin. I’m not sick.
The bus pulls away. Tall, dark-red clinic buildings encircle me. I walk to the oncology one. The glass doors open, inviting me to enter. I pass the receptionist at this desk, approaching the second. I am told to have a seat, but as I turn around the nurse calls me back. “Dr. Regin will see you now.” Come on Arthur, and take Catherine’s hand. I push a new buggy in through the door, and into her office.
The results are confirmed. Dr. Regin, this is Catherine, Arthur, and Jessica. Haven’t they grown? Art and I are so happy. We will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this Saturday and were wondernig if you and your husband would like to come to our party. It is liver metastasis, like we thought. They want to admit me to the hospital to begin more aggressive treatments. Did she say surgery? Chemo? That strangeness is filling my body. Cathering please give Arthur his bear back. Oh, little Jessica is hungry…So, you won’t be able to attend. That’s too bad. Art will be disappointed.
The thundering silence is broken by beeps. We both check our pagers. Hers tells her to call her husband. Mine tells me it’s time for another dose. I am sick.