Thursday, July 31, 2008

taxi confessions

I had to laugh at myself in the back seat of a short cab ride home, not enough leg power at the moment to ride the bus and walk the short ways, so payin' the big taxi bucks.  The curious driver wants to know about the crutches and me and my work, and when I say I've had to retire and he asks why, I tell him I got sick a little while back.  Enough, right?  No.  "What did you have?"  "Cancer."  He then proceeds to tell me if it were him how he wouldn't pursue treatment.  I caution him saying, "never say never...  I used to feel that way.  I always told my poor wife if I were ever terminal, just set me up a nice bed on the porch - weather permitting, let me hang out, listen to the birds and watch the light change throughout the day...."  He agrees.  My home is only a few blocks away and I'm feeling like the "mystery rider of the day" - you know, the one with "a message" in the movie  and I need to give it to him fast.

Yep, somehow in the back of someone's taxi that I've not been in for 3 minutes I'm going to become a cliché and I'm going to share with him my own very personal why of "never say never."

It was the middle of the night, I was in severe pain.  I didn't need an expert to tell me that without help I would die soon.  4 am, trying to leave for the emergency room, but I can't get to the car. I lie down on the earth because that's all I can do.  The earth absorbs my pain, makes it a little more tolerable, tolerable enough that I'm comfortable dying here.  I could just lie here, let the earth take me.  After all it's going to happen to all of us some day, right?  Tonight's my night.  I'll curl up into the earth's arms and wait....  I'm looking up at a clear starry sky on the first night of autumn.  It's cosmic and so am I. After all I want to die "in a good way."  I lay there looking up at the stars when suddenly I see clearly a vision of my wife's face - not her actual face that was busy pacing the yard trying to figure out once again what to do with this man she's chosen to share a life with.  Her face hovers inches above mine, lingers a few seconds, vanishes and is replaced by my son's face.  His face recedes to the background and my other son's face appears.... then it all dissolves into starry sky.  I know what I am supposed to do.  I know it in my bones.  I have to face my fear.  Not of dying, but of going through the hospital doors and not coming out anytime soon.

I tell the cab driver, "For me the scary thing wasn't dying," this had his attention now,"It was going through those hospital doors and surrendering, but I knew I had to.  I knew it was about a lot more than just me.  I couldn't just go off and die and leave them just yet.  I was still needed.  So for me the brave thing was to haul my ass up off the ground and go to the hospital and surrender.

Sometimes surrender is the only way through....

As he dropped me off he told me that he himself had 13 kids!  
I gave him a really good tip, which surprised him.   "With 13 kids, you need it buddy!"  I closed the car door thinking to myself, never say never...

Drop the old tired dogma.  Be open to surprises (some of them are good surprises) - like highly toxic medications that may help one survive to have a little more time to love, to be loved and to be the mystery man in the movie with the message....



Stella Magdalen said...

I am honoured to be on your blogroll. And excited to be able to watch a new one from the beginning.

And, Oh lord it is not the dying, but the other part, so much, that all fears me up. Amen.

Shark said...

I had a sorta similar experience, ie. a mortality virgin was laying out brave cliches. Guy told me about the power of the mind, how I didn't need chemo, how the Placebo effect works and how people cure their cancer by thinking good thoughts.

This can verge on making one angry, but I suppressed the impulse to punch him in the nose and say, "Use willpower and DON'T FEEL THAT!"

I, too, said, "never say never" to the guy; "you never know how you're going to deal with it until it happens to you. I thought I could do without medications -- and wasn't so interested in living... until I got a death sentence. Then I was begging for drugs and down on my knees say 'lord, give me one more day!'"

"Willpower" I says.

"Yep," he answers.

"I tell ya what: use your willpower to quit smoking and your point my have a tad bit more validity."

(He was a chain-smoker)


Sandi said...

Thank you for leading me to your blog. As always, your words move me beyond measure.

My mother would get a good laugh from this post. She swore, all her life, that, if cancer visited her, she would not do surgery or treatments. She would let the disease run its course and accept her own death.

Well, cancer got her and, true to her self, she told the doctor that she did not want surgery or treatment. The doctor was agreeable. He said he would work with her to keep her as comfortable as possible...for the six weeks that it would take for the huge tumor on her kidney to kill her.

Six WEEKS?!!!!!!? My mother decided that maybe surgery was an okay option. That was four years ago and she is still going strong. We tease her gently about her sudden change of heart. She points out that her "dignified death scenario" was based upon being given a prognosis that involved months...lots of months.

Surrender is absolutely the most frightening thing about cancer.

el poquito said...

welcome friends,
stella you nailed it," Oh lord it is not the dying, but the other part, so much, that all fears me up."

And it's the "other part" that brings me here to another little corner of the world that I am staking out.

And so you know, "tizitl" as in the URL for this blog is nahuatl for "healers" or "healing" - I guess I coulda called it healers.blogspot, but then that would be so obvious! I want this to be a spot of healing for all who enter - a garden of sorts. But my garden isn't all pretty roses - there's also plenty of thorniness. Can't have one without the other, but then Stella, Shark and Sandi - you all know that already and bring much to the garden... thank you.

grace said...

el poquito! this is grace in nm!
SO happy to find your garden!

el poquito said...

Grace - Just found you here. Welcome! good to know you've passed through here. Say "hello" to the Sangre de Cristos for me....