I’ve been challenged several times over the past few days about why I have been working on the index to my cancer blogging just now. These remarks have come in conversation with my therapist and family, in blog comments from readers, and in emails from friends. After all, the last couple of weeks have been pretty atrociously difficult for me, between the epic GI problems of a week and a half ago, the difficult conversations with
Why, I have been asked, am I hitting myself on the head with the hammer of memory when my daily life is already deeply stressing?
Several reasons. The simplest is that this needed to be done, I’d committed months ago to trying to do it this fall, and now was when I had the time, post-Kalimpura, post-Sunspin and pre-getting persistently lost in the chemo brainfog. Keeping my professional commitments is very important to me, and from my perspective, this was a professional commitment.
It’s not like things are going to get any better for me over the next few months, so the “why right now” argument amounts to a “why not do it in the middle of next year” argument, which I find unacceptable.
Secondly, a real important part of my cancer journey, for me, has been the process of being a witness for cancer. As I mentioned in the index post, I get as much fan mail off my cancer these days as I do off my fiction. A lot of it says things along the lines of “You’ve helped me cope with my spouse’s cancer” or “You’ve helped find the words to explain my illness to my family” or “You’ve helped me understand the things my parent wouldn’t say before they died.” By Ghu, if I can make something constructive out of this horrible, pointless experience, then I have drawn some victory from the jaws of debilitation. Assembling the index is an important part of keeping my words about cancer fresh for other people who haven’t been with me on this journey since the beginning.
Thirdly, though it was kind of a head buster walking down memory lane with my ever declining health and the collapse of my cherished primary relationship, it was also cathartic. These are events with an intense hold over me, as you can imagine. At the same time, I have been working pretty hard to break that hold, to live for myself and my future, such as it is, instead of dwelling in the past. Looking through those elements of my life amounts to a letting go.
I’m not erasing anyone or anything from my history. I’m just trying to release some of the soul-crushing load it represents for me. Working on that index just now, in the face of everything going on, has been an important part of that process for me.