Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer|personal] Failing those who love me, one breath at a time

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.

Tags: cancer, family, friends, health, personal, radiantlisa

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