On my drive to Ottawa the other day, I had tuned into CBC to have a listen to Q. Stuart Murdoch, from the Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, was featured promoting his new album Girls in Peacetime want to Dance. The interview was quite good but something he proclaimed really stuck in my brain.
Stuart has struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a debilitating and isolating disease in which he was housebound and largely bed ridden for years.
The host asked how he stayed positive throughout the entire ordeal in which he responded that it required him to become violently happy just to make it through the day. The wee positives he grabbed hold of day in and day out, amplified to an exhausting level just in order to wake up the following morning and do it all over again. To continue living, instead of what was easier, succumbing to the disease.
This statement had me thinking for hours on the long drive.
I’m not sick obviously, but I can relate to his words. To live so closely with those that are very ill, landing the role of the annoying cheerleader because yes I’m not sick, so I can’t possibly complain about a damn thing in my life (contrary to my blog rants), to remain positive and encouraging even when the news has come (at least for my family) as blow after shitty blow.
To receive the phone calls in which you hear inoperable, incurable, radiation, and chemo. What to say to that? Well I’m honest and say it sucks, but bitching at the universe rarely helps anyone for more then a few curse words, although that has happened. Quickly I switch over to councillor/hippy dippy/life coach Kelly, cataloging my brain for some semblance of a positive. Some ‘words of wisdom’ that seem to fit the news, spouting prolific nonsense that I’m not even sure I believe myself.
My outlook on life has done a 360, the finite end we all must face shouting at me on a daily basis has largely made me appreciative and so grateful for what I do have, but in the process it has been exhausting. I bury myself in books, avoiding phone calls from mostly everyone aside from my mom and dad. There’s only so much rallying you can do. Only so much violent cheer you can spread in a day and still remain mostly sane. I said mostly.
I spent about 8 hours in the Ottawa Hospital yesterday, largely in the chemo ward in which I people watched very intently. I took special note of the helpers who accompanied their loved ones. Sitting in their uncomfortable chairs for hours. Stoically waiting for the poison to seep into the IVs. Watching the patients sleep on the bed, getting them boat loads of water and waiting. Constantly WAITING.
Waiting for the drugs to work so that maybe, just maybe they will be the statistic that survives this awful disease.
How did they become the violently happy cheerleaders against the disease that is killing their husbands, parents, kids? Or have they even gotten that far?
The endless questions from everyone who is rightly interested in the health updates of my mom and dad. I get it, people want to be in the know, they want to know what is going on, but then I retell the saga and I see myself turn into a fucking quote spewing asshole when really sometimes I just want to say, yup, mom got cancer, it fucked her entire life up, her whole health is fucked, then before she’s even had a few good weeks after radiation, oh well now dad has a non curable cancer but HOO RAH they are champions and we’ll beat this sucker and fuck by then I am just fucking tired.
Not that people reading this should stop asking me the questions, I think it’s just made so much sense to me to see the reality of how I’ve actually been coping through it all. I see it very clearly now. Why I read 4 books a week, why I’ve become a mostly shitty friend, accepting my reclusive nature. Why I exercise way more then I ever have, the peace it gives me after I run to exhaustion. Being ‘on’ is tough. Being violently ‘on’ is a whole other realm. Hopefully one, most people don’t ever have to deal with.
So as I sign out today, mom’s still in surgery, and I’ll not think about how the day will end, I will push through and make my dad his lunch, clean their house, and listen and rally and do everything I can to help. I will do this willingly, it is my privilege to do this for them, after all they’ve done for me.
I will do it enthusiastically and lord help us all VIOLENTLY! HOO RAH!