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[cancer|personal] Failing those who love me, one breath at a time - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2013-08-25 08:16
Subject: [cancer|personal] Failing those who love me, one breath at a time
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, family, friends, health, personal, radiantlisa
Last night I had a total emotional meltdown. Poor Lisa Costello had to support me, literally and figuratively, through an hour or more more of sobbing, the shakes and a fair amount of ranting. Being a terminal cancer patient is a stone bitch.

I've commented on occasion that if I'd woken up six or seven years ago in the position I'm in today, I don't know what I would have done. I don't know how I even get out of bed these days. Medically speaking, I don't even know why I'm alive at this point. Objectively speaking, my life is a horror. Yet almost every day I laugh and love and find something interesting to do with myself. But sometimes the weight of it all comes crashing down on me.

As it did last night.

There were two proximate causes of me exploding into meltdown. One was my sense that the malaise of the past two weeks, as I've been so ill from the New Zealand death cold, are a fairly accurate preview of the malaise I'll likely experience as I enter my terminal decline. Oversleeping, loss of appetite, no motivation or energy, lack of mental focus, constant mild confusion and incompetence. It was a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.

The other proximate cause was a huge upwelling of my sense of being so tired of everything. I'm tired of cancer. I'm tired of being ill. I'm tired of drugs, and tests, and being incapacitated, and everyone around me struggling with fear and pain. I'm tired of my own fear and pain. I really do see why people walk away from treatment. I really do understand why people get sick of living.

And that feeling scared the hell out of me. I'm scared enough of death, of the personal extinction. But I'm becoming so tired of the burden of living that I'm becoming scared of life, too.

Don't take this wrong as you read these words. I'm not giving up, and I'm not feeling suicidal, even passively. Rather, I'm describing my mental and emotional state in extremis last night. As I have proven over and over, I am too stupid and stubborn to die. At least, not quickly and quietly. Lisa pointed out to me that the same psychotic persistence I brought to my writing career is something I've been applying to my career as a cancer patient.

But the desperation of this position can overwhelm. I am beyond lucky to have so many friends and family and lovers and fans and supporters and acquaintances. Whatever the opposite of socially isolated is, that's me. Every day I move in a sea of love and support and kind regard, my course charted by excellent doctors, my needs met in a hundred different ways by a hundred different people, Lisa first and foremost.

But I still walk the path of darkness. And that path continues to grow deeper and colder and shorter. Sometimes, I look up from the light with which I am surrounded and all I can see is the pit into which I am inexorably descending.

And then I weep. For myself, for those whom I love, for those who love me, for life itself. In dying, I fail those who love me, one breath at a time. The pain of my soul is greater than any pain of my body ever will be.

Walk in light as long as you can. I shall try to do the same.

Post A Comment | 17 Comments | | Link

mlerules: ORANGE
User: mlerules
Date: 2013-08-25 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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User: keikaimalu
Date: 2013-08-25 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't imagine anyone feeling any other way, given where you are. It's one strangely comforting thing, to me, about being an atheist: you know you didn't ask for this, don't deserve it, etc.

Such a hard place to be. Are you in any support groups with other terminal cancer folks? I know you're surrounded by love and friendship, but sometimes there's nothing like someone else who's been there. That empathetic communion can be priceless.

I wish you nothing but the absolute best, Jay.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2013-08-25 16:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

By the way, I would like to use your kindness essay from (yesterday? Friday?) as a reading lesson for my middle school students. Would you mind?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-08-25 16:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Please, feel free to use the kindness essay in any way you see fit!
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User: asakiyume
Date: 2013-08-25 16:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Walk in light as long as you can. I shall try to do the same.

Yes sir. And yes, you keep up that bullheaded insistence on living, okay? As long as you can.

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User: yourbob
Date: 2013-08-25 17:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You will feel the way you feel, of course. And it's okay to do so.

But you're not failing anyone.
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Teal: What a Day! Possum
User: teal_cuttlefish
Date: 2013-09-05 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:What a Day! Possum
Agreed. You are not failing anyone. Your body is simply failing, and you are fighting against that as best you can. But every breath you take is a success for those that love you. Even death isn't a failing. It's inevitable, but it is not a failing.

I do understand, though. I may or may not die early, but I am disabled and get upset at what I cannot do that I want to do very badly. Try to remember you are not failing anyone, though. If that gives you any comfort.
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User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-08-25 18:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
walking on eggshells is difficult, I say, stomp them down and make a sparkly white beach out of the lot!

breathe, just breathe.
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Sue Burke
User: mount_oregano
Date: 2013-08-25 19:37 (UTC)
Subject: Thank you
I want you to know how helpful your honest account of your experience is to me and my sister. She has also been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We talk about what you say and what she's experienced physically and emotionally, and she and I come away with a better understanding of her situation.

Thank you for your kindness. Your sea of love and support flows outward to distant shores.
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Jay Lake: flowers-sunflower
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-08-25 20:12 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Thank you
I am glad to be of some help, and sorrow for the reasons that my help is useful. Good luck to you both.
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Renegade Vagabond
User: khaybee
Date: 2013-08-25 20:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I love you so much, and the sadness I feel at not seeing much of you is not so much to do with the cancer. It would be there no mater what. I am so pleased we got to spend the time together we did, and I am not sorry I pushed you. I was determined that you get what you asked for out of the trip. I know that if I didn't push, you would have been regretful about opportunities missed.

Love you.
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User: elisem
Date: 2013-08-25 22:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Just yes.
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Debbie N.
User: wild_irises
Date: 2013-08-26 06:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*thinking of you*
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Lethran: Crotian
User: gwyd
Date: 2013-08-26 10:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There is nothing I can say to make it better. I am thinking o you.

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Nat S Ford: hug-peanuts
User: natf
Date: 2013-08-26 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2013-08-27 00:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We walk in the light when we can, and we also hold those we love in our own light when theirs fails them. Then they do the same for us.
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Tamara Kaye Sellman
User: Tamara Kaye Sellman
Date: 2013-08-27 03:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey Jay, if it helps at all, I was on your turf all last weekend, thinking about all the people in my life who could not be there to do the PTC walk. This included you as well as a close friend of mine who used to walk for our relay team but was, at the very same time (and still), committed to bedrest for a disabling MS flare-up all week. Damn.

I was (and continue to be) reminded that we must insist on doing all we can while we can. You just never know when opportunities will slide out from underneath, leaving you knee-down in sharp gravel.

My MS flareup this year started with this very race just one year ago, after a bout of exercise-induced allergies. This year, I went back and I evened the score. Not just for me, but for you, for my friend, for everyone who hits that fucking wall and can't get past it.

Thank you for being part of that courageous constellation of people who light my path.
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