A recent Friday night was a bit of a downer. J. got a welcome last-minute invitation to the symphony and off she went to spend the evening enjoying music with a dear friend. That left me at home to occupy myself. My mood tanked.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not begrudge J.’s leaving me at home on a Friday night. I’m a great believer in each member of a couple having her own friends and doing her own thing. In fact, I’ve long encouraged J. to spend more time with her friends because one day I may not be able to go out and play anymore. I don’t want J. to be at loose ends when I’m gone.
So then why did her going out set me off? I felt sad because I was thinking about how much our lives have changed and how rarely we go out together in the evening. I’m the one who doesn’t have the energy, but J. still does. Why should she be hanging out at home all the time just because I’m too tired to go out? How fair for is that for her? So when an opportunity arises, I am happy that she can get out with someone.
But I can still feel sorry for myself can’t I? Maybe it’s more accurate to say I feel sad that I can’t participate in as many activities as I used to with J. anymore. I miss our before-cancer life of going to movies and plays and concerts and even out for dinner. I used to know what was going on around town but now I can only give you a detailed rundown of what’s on TV, assuming I don’t fall asleep during the show.
After a few hours of pathetic self-pity, I realized that J.’s being out in the evening opened up a world of possibilities for me. I could eat whatever I wanted for dinner and dessert, I could leave my dishes in the sink for hours if I chose, I could watch Food Network all night, and I wouldn’t have to boot J. off the couch in order to make room for Jelly. Friday evening had the potential to be perfect…except that J. wasn’t here. And I can affirm that Jelly is not the greatest dinner companion nor conversationalist.
Then J. came home and told me that, as much as she had had a lovely evening with her friend, she felt miserable about leaving me at home and she wished we’d been out together. And she had to fight for a few measly appies while I was emptying the fridge at home.
Before I was diagnosed with leukemia, I thought the hardest thing about having cancer would be fear of dying. Sure, that’s part of it: I have days where I’m terrified of not being here any more. But, honestly, most of the time I’m in complete denial about the death part.
What’s harder, I find, is the way life has changed while I’m still here. There are so many things I miss from my pre-leukemia life that sometimes I feel overwhelmingly sad. I just wish J. didn’t feel that way too.