Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

Daily Batman: the irretrievably lost world inside

October 19, 2011


The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.

(Schopenhauer.)

I’ve been mourning the loss of a very close childhood friend. She was very literally the first friend I ever had. Because we moved quite far apart, in the last several years, our contact has been social networking and phone calls on each other’s birthdays (my lucky number, 22, is owing to her birthday of February 22nd). I do have to give her a wry thumbs-up because it was very clever to die of breast cancer in October so that we’d all remember every year to donate and walk and light candles and the like, but I can’t say I have been much of a fan of the actual passing.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight….
Not people die but worlds die in them.

(Yevgeny Yevtushenko, People.)

My friend had time to say goodbye to her sons, her husband, her sister and her parents, and to all of the rest of us who loved her. But what I have been struggling with is the loss of that world inside her: a world whose first gasps I was lucky enough to share with her, a world whose confident, feet-found orbit was still only just beginning. I feel so bitter and helpless about it. I didn’t realize how badly I’d been repressing it until I went to her funeral at our old church several hours away (alone, which was a terrible mistake). I didn’t weep or make a spectacle, but I didn’t stop crying. It was like I couldn’t.

Afterward, a very nice, very short woman came up and began gently asking me about my friend, and I explained that we’d known each other since we were very, very young, and had even gone to school together off and on. Turns out the woman was one of my kindergarten teachers. The nice one. Still nice, after all these years. I’ll explain that another day.

The point is — horrible. Bitterness. Anger. Grief. But not so much anger that I wish to assuage it by some sort of strike back; that would not at all comfort me, because I’m not down to facts just yet. I’m not ready to slap on a pink-ribboned tank top and run any marathons to make things better for others, because I don’t give a shit about all that yet. That is for sure.

I feel like a lost and selfish monster, surrounded by all this breast cancer awareness promotional material and not even up to the point of resentment of the disease; ergo, mystified by the idea of embracing that activism to trump my grief. I don’t like to feel that way. And I like to do all kinds of charity malarkey. I really do. I’ve donated this month already in the name of another friend’s mother, who beat it two years ago.

But this new thing — I am just not ready to even think of my friend’s death in terms of what killed her. That seems objective to the point of frightening. But I should strive for it? Right? How do you get to there?

Music Moment: Magnetic Fields “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing”

December 4, 2009

The other day Jan-Han, who is going through chemo and has mentioned how sick she is of being Brave Little Cancer Girl, brought up the quote, “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Magnetic Fields – Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing

I think she hit the nail on the head of how to age into greater and greater love, your whole life. An attitude of patient acceptance and seeking of enjoyment in all things, natural and emotional. Abandoning expectations, not letting them poison your outlook and lead you to choose disappointment over delight. I think this is true of all the long-time together and happily-married couples I know. I think they have figured that out. How to dance together, in balance.

I am honestly not ready to continue thinking about it. It puts grace and hope in my heart, but it also makes me feel bittersweet and sad, and fearful for the future. But this song is just as beautiful and deceptively simple as that original idea, and it makes me feel the same as that train of thought did, so I will let it say the rest for me.

Dance with me my old friend
once before we go
Let’s pretend this song won’t end
and we never have to go home
and we’ll dance among the chandeliers

And nothing matters when we’re dancing
In tattered tatters you’re entrancing
Be we in Paris or in Lansing
nothing matters when we’re dancing
nothing matters when we’re dancing


You’ve never been more beautiful
your eyes like two full moons
As here in this poor old dance hall
among the dreadful tunes
the awful songs we don’t even hear…


by Ramiro Stahl on flickr

And nothing matters when we’re dancing
In tattered tatters you’re entrancing
Be we in Paris or in Lansing
nothing matters when we’re dancing
nothing matters when we’re dancing

Woman Warrior (nsfw)

September 25, 2009

Topless archery: it is a thing.

A friend was given the news last night that she has breast cancer. They are moving quickly on it, I’m hoping for the best possible outcome. But I have known her a long time, not only do I consider her a friend in her own right but she is the mother of three of my dearest friendohs and the soon-to-be mother-in-law of a fourth dear one, so I’ve been constantly returning to this issue in my mind, the worry that they will not be able merely to isolate the cancer and remove it, the concern that the surgeon will advocate taking the entire breast, doing a masectomy to make sure the cancer does not return.

So it has had me thinking even more about girls and our bodies. I mean, I already was lazily toying with these notions, but now I am more consistently revisiting ideas about femininity, and breasts, and the image of the Amazonian, or Lady Macbeth’s “unsex me” speech. Why is it that breasts are so bound up in our vision of womanhood? I guess because they feed us? Because we have them and men don’t? I have no anwers and no keys into the doors of deeper thoughts, I’m still pretty preoccupied with my friend’s health. But I plan to come back to these thoughts later. For now I will I guess just collect some topless archery pictures while I ruminate on this stuff. You know. For science.