I realize that once I die, I won’t have much say in what happens to me. J. and I have discussed my basic wishes–yes, I want a funeral, no, I don’t want to be cremated because it’s unJewish, and yes, donate any and all organs that aren’t spoiled by my various ailments–but I’m leaving the obituary and eulogy up to J.
To ease J.’s burden after I die, I scripted my own headstone this week: It was all about her. I can’t take credit for this insight, though. Long ago, our good friends, the Double Ps, gave us a garden stake with this quote on it. They made it clear they meant the gift for me. Yes, this was their impression even before I got cancer. They were right, and we’re still friends.
Now that I have cancer, my relationship with J. has unfortunately become all the more about me. The latest evidence of this relationship inequity is our spending J.’s birthday in the Emergency Room. “Surprise, honey, hope you liked your gift. Enough about you. Now take me to the hospital!”
Well, that was unexpected, wasn’t it? I hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, and shared a concerning symptom with the caring hematology fellow who called to follow up on my Cancer Centre visit Tuesday. She (I love it when fellows are female–calls for a change in terminology, don’t you think?) told me to get my tuchus to the ER.
I don’t like to go to the ER, and I really wanted J. to have one day that was solely about her, so my inner five-year old resisted. I asked the female fellow if I might go the next day instead. She consented reluctantly, but told me to take action if my symptoms worsened. As soon as I hung up, I grew up and called J. in tears to tell her where we’d be spending her birthday. Oh, but first I dried my tears and saw a client while J. arranged for emergency dog care from our beloved jump-into-action friend, C.
And so it came to pass that we spent J.’s birthday hanging out with smart and kind medical professionals who marvelled over my curious body and debated whether to admit me or send me home to follow up with my specialists. J. brought work along to fill the waiting hours. (J. believes she gets more work done at the hospital because there are fewer interruptions.) Thankfully, after a long day and a platelet top up–thanks yet again blood donors!–the doctors concurred my death was not imminent and allowed me to go home.
We left just in time for J. to pick up her birthday meal of choice: Dinner for One from the local Chinese restaurant. Then our dear friend M. dropped by with her beloved chocolate cake with mocha icing. Best gift ever. J. knew I wasn’t faking when I refused a slice.
Illness makes our life too much about me, and this time, to my dismay, J. lost her special day. I know this health journey has not been fun for her, but we tried to make the best of a bad situation. We are experts at that.