It has been 10 months since I last came through this way. My previous dispatch had me playing the part of a fierce invalid, on her way home soon from a hot climate. And I did come home, and just as quickly, I was gone again. Then back. And then suddenly it was summer, and then fall and now the wind is howling outside and the fire is roaring and I’m sitting here by a snowy sea trying to remember all the things I’ve wanted to say.
It has been difficult, wait, no, near impossible, to say anything. I’ve struggled so much in every facet of my life over these many months that I can’t get out of my own way. I’ve tricked everyone, including myself, into believing that my world is round and the water is fine.
But it hasn’t been. For too long now I’ve been smattering the pages of Facebook with beautiful photographs of sailing and sunshine and a life so extraordinary that it couldn’t possibly be true. I’ve been editing my own existence right down to the very image I wanted you to see. A sunny, smiling, curly-haired Siren, who wanted for nothing but a little wind and a little extra lime in her rum. It’s all I’ve wanted since this whole mess started. It has been really, really dark for a while, and there aren’t enough limes in the world that can fix the bigger problem. Cancer doesn’t just go away when the sun comes out.
So, the short version of the long story is that no sooner did I arrive home from an incredibly cathartic few months in Mexico, that I was off to the French West Indies to work as a set photographer for a soul-squashing Bravo reality TV show. I returned, exhausted and exasperated, to endure what had become an insufferable existence of interminable anxiety and debilitating pain. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t work. I could barely get up and down the stairs. I spent all of my energy trying not to fall apart, and even more energy trying to hide it. After everything I’d been through, I couldn’t reconcile such a compromised existence. Broken, hurting, and so ashamed of my seeming ungratefulness for my own heartbeat, I did the only self-righting thing I knew how to do and cast myself off, as far out to sea as I could get for as long as my ship could hold me, and begged the constellations for mercy.
I scared myself nearly to death.
And then a very dear friend realized something was very wrong. And she couldn’t have been more right. It was the damn chemo. The very thing that was supposed to keep me firmly planted on this side of the dirt, was killing me. And so it was that I declared quality over quantity, flushing the pills down the toilet, and never being more sure of anything in my life. Oh, if it were only that easy, that final. No. No. The steep price of living a little longer was to hand over my future and relinquish my ovaries. And the only thing I’m certain of now, is that I’ve made it to Forty.
And so here we find ourselves. The very last day of another year. And if all of this comes as a terrible surprise to you, then allow me please to beg your forgiveness. Please. I have not been as open and honest as you previously have come to know me, my sudden silence a sure sign, you say, that I have stolen my own boat and cast you off in exchange for a better life. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am suffocating under the weight of all the things I haven’t said and the truth is, I’m tired. Tired of talking about it. Tired of explaining myself. Tired of being sick. Tired of being sad, frustrated. Tired of being tired.
So let’s consider this a clearing of the deck, a promise that in 2013, I’ll be a straight shooter. Honest. If I need help, I’ll ask. If I’m tired, I’ll tell you. The fog is lifting, it’s getting brighter in here every day. And after two very long years, I am finally starting to surface. But I need a little more time to catch my breath if that’s OK.
Keep on swimming.
Swimming. Swimming. Swimming.
And eventually, tell you everything.