Sadness (or Saddy, as I call her), the Inside Out character who is blue not just in complexion but in mood, has no place here today, since today is the UN-sanctioned International Day of Happiness. Being happy is an international priority today. I’ll do my part here.
On this happiest of days, allow me to dispute your preconceived notion that having leukemia is a bad thing. Rather, I’ll review the advantages of having leukemia for your benefit. Sure, if I were calling the shots, I’d nix the cancer altogether, but since I’m not, today at least I’ll look solely on the bright side because, if not now, when?
First off, whenever I show up in the ER, rather than wait for hours with other sick people, I jump to the front of the queue. No waiting time for me. The mere list of my ailments assures me priority treatment. Sure, the gal who’s lost a limb in a farm accident may take precedence over me, but I’ll surely be seen next.
Second, after 48 years of insomnia, starting right out of the womb, my leukemia diagnosis has been my remedy for sleeplessness. I can nap for two hours in the afternoon and still fall asleep at bedtime when my head hits the pillow. I can sleep until mid morning and have no trouble hitting the sack later. Heck, I can even drift off during a hot new episode of Border Security. I have discovered the joy of sleeping through the night. I have never slept so well. Sure I’m still tired after I awaken, but every solution has its shortcomings.
Third, in any standing-room-only situation, I am always assured a seat. (No, it’s not because I look pregnant, but thanks for asking.) One look at my pasty complexion, perhaps a stumble against a wall, an irrepressible yawn in the mid-afternoon, and suddenly people everywhere are begging me to take their seats.
The fourth affirming benefit is my perpetually evoking awe and wonder in others. Why, just yesterday, we bumped into J.’s former boss, who signed off on J.’s extended leave following my leukemia diagnosis. Although J. had only been working for Ms. Boss for 3 months, she graciously approved J.’s taking the time she needed to care for me. Boy, did I need caring for back then.
Ms. Boss had barely acknowledged J. before turning to me and saying, “This must be Annie. You look very well.” What she was really saying, but in a more socially appropriate way, was, “I can’t believe you’re not dead yet.” I’m cool with that. It’s true. I should be long dead by now.
Which brings us to the fifth and ultimate advantage of this lovely disease: I now have a ready excuse not to mince words. (Need I remind you of my lingering post-ICU brain damage?) So I responded cheerily to Ms. Boss, “Yup, I’m still alive!” If I offended her or made her uncomfortable, so be it.
In retrospect, if I’m going to lip off like that, I should perhaps choose my targets more wisely. Or should I? J. hasn’t worked for Ms. Boss for years now.
So be happy today, even if you have something to feel sad about. Sadness will still be there later.