Well, it’s been an interesting two days. It wasn’t cancer after all, and something the surgeon was happy to remove in his office, giving me a good prognosis even without the biopsy results back yet. He en expressed courteous surprise that I am actually 50 (goes to show how sunblock keeps you looking young, he remarked).
We chatted about the pictures lining the walls, which showed the good doctor (who looks to be about seventy) rock climbing, parachuting, and base jumping. We talked about the magic three days required to learn to snowboard, and he assured me as he checked my back (for anything scary looking, as he put it) that in his opinion I would not even need to check in with him every year – every 5-10 will be fine and in the meantime I knew what to look for, and what to do.
During the procedure, which I did not feel but felt/heard from the inside as he applied scalpel and cauterization, I marveled at how he should seem so active with his hands and tools, and I not feel anything though I could tell of course that a lot was happening, and was glad for the rapidity of local anesthetic’s effect.
As he worked, he asked me what I did in life (and that’s what he said, what did I do “in life”, and not, what did I do for a living), and I gave two answers and he asked me a few follow up questions about both. What do you write about, he asked, and I said without irony that I tended toward horror fiction, then reassured him that as a horror writer I was particularly pleased to be having this procedure in Exam Room 13, on Friday the 13th (with a full moon yet!) . Oh I wondered if you noticed that, he remarked.
I am glad, because of the cool if obvious horror symmetry, but glad also because of the happy coincidence that 13 has always been my lucky number, and Friday the 13th my favorite day, ever since I won a tri-state writing competition on a Friday the 13th when I was a senior in high school. Our entries were judged on a blind basis, the names and genders and home states of the thirteen finalists undetectable behind our entry numbers, and my entry number of course was 13.
When I won first place after the relief/agony of losing third and second place, I’ll never forget the happy surprise on mom and dad’s faces, as they turned to me and looked at me scootch out of the aisle past all the knees and congratulatory hands reaching for me, patting me in my simple red cotton t-shirt dress with the cap sleeves and white contrast trim and tie belt, which I’d pulled over my head in the backseat of the car, then removed my softball uniform, on the way to the awards ceremony, which took place 30 miles away from 30 minutes after the end of my regional softball tournament game, where I struck out eleven batters and walked three.
So all in all it was a minor scare though I admit to being majorly afraid, so much so that the first time they took my blood pressure, me the runner, it was 140 something over ninety something. How ridiculous you are being, I told myself sternly, and I cried a little, and the good doctor put a sympathetic hand on my arm for a brief moment, and I deep breathed and thought about skiing on quiet snow and they took it again and it was 130 something over eighty something. By the time I left it was back to normal, 115 over seventy something, and the nurse exclaimed she’d never seen anything like it and the doctor winked at me and said, keep up the running, good luck at Great Western States.
I said I had never signed up for that one and he said, it’s the natural next race though isn’t it, and I had to agree with this interesting doctor who chatted with me about who Shane McConkey was, the famous base jumping snowboarder gone too soon, and he agreed he needed to check out the documentary that included the final footage of the last fatal jump out of our collective hearts and into whatever else there is.
The sky today was the color of cornflowers, and cloudless. I felt good enough to walk home (the anesthetic still doing it’s job) and felt celebratory, so we walked to a neighborhood place, taking the famous 150 step staircase to get there. We sat on a patio under red umbrellas and had Bohemia lagers, then took the long way home.
Later we went for a ride on the motorcycle under the full moon. The movie (the new Tom Cruise) was surprisingly entertaining and took my mind off the pain on my neck that I don’t really mind, all things considered. Tonight I’ll finish a short story I’ve been working on desultorily; I’m up against a deadline now.
It’s a troll story, for a compilation of troll stories. It sounds silly but I am taking it seriously; I have found a groove for this story. For my troll treatment I decided to go the traditional route – a fable. The main character is a girl of 12. She has an unruly foot, but is reasonably brave and so she prevails in battle against the terrible, omnivorous troll. I hope it turns out as good as I think it can, if I handle it just right. The heroine, Emily, is a version of my sister, who also is brave, and who knows from unruly foots, and also prevails – she called today with good news that made me burst into confetti tears of happiness for her.
I’m going to go finish the story now. I can hear my sweet husband and dog snoring almost in concert on the couch, and I can see the moon peeking in at them through the tall dining room window, the one with the cardinal bird sun catcher that always makes me think of my home, where mom and dad are even now. I think of the poem I read just a week ago, by the poet Jane Kenyon, who died of cancer – leukemia – at the age of 47, whose poem “Otherwise” has been echoing around in my head:
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know;
it will be otherwise.
Sleep well under the fullness of this once in one hundred years full moon – a strawberry moon they call it, because sometimes it can be the color of blood. May the strawberry moon be as lucky for you as it has been for me.