Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy Birthday! Tales Of An Aging Cancer Survivor

My birthday is coming up.  It'll be the first birthday I've had since treatment ended.  My birthday, my birthday, my birthday.  I suddenly can't stop saying the words.  Soon, I'll be officially one year older.  Bring on the years, I say.  The looming shadow of untimely death may still follow doggedly at my heels, but it's less and less relevant.  Like an aging pop star, grasping for attention in the tabloids by snorting things and banging things and hanging other things out windows.  Such is the state of my conscious thoughts on the subject of the decay of my physical viscera.

All thugs and chumps must inevitably grow up.  But not all thugs and chumps must like it.  This one does.

Birthdays attract bears.

To be honest, I haven't thought much about it until I was reminded of the approaching date.  And then, I didn't care enough to really process the information until I sat down to write this post.  Now I can't stop myself from feeling elated at the prospect of the number of years I've been on this Earth getting, well, more numerous.  So it is with complete and utter childlike eagerness that I say, more numerous numbers please!  May they grow and grow, until a harvest of numbers shall be laid out in a banquet of the wealth of my years, garnished with the love of those I hold dear.

If Dad tries to eat all of my cake again this year...

Sorry about that last part.  I get all sentimental when I think about not dying and instead spending the time I could have spent dead with the people in my life that I like the best.  It's a simple thing, really.  But often overlooked among the day-to-day.  Most people dread this birthday stuff -- I used to.  I never wanted to make a big deal of it, and I didn't want to remind myself that I was chipping away at my youth, just by standing back and watching the sands filter through.  Age is something we can't control, and getting older is mostly terrifying.  It seems almost like a punishment.  Dealt to us for no apparent reason, and without just cause.  What have we done to deserve these advancing years?  These days, I ask the same question, but with a very different twist.  What have I done to deserve another birthday?

Image credits: Top -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, by ritchielee via flickr; Middle -- Cleveland Zoo's birthday party, by Yvonne via flickr; Bottom -- murder on birthday 3, by Murat Suyur via deviantART

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Would You Want To Die?

Today I tripped over my total gym while moving to a new exercise and caught myself awkwardly before face planting and spilling my brains on the floor.  Then, after the workout, I slipped in the shower, bouncing on one foot to keep myself from falling (which is something I always do when I slip in the shower that makes next to no sense, because if you slip with the other foot, you have nothing left to save you and will surely die).  I sprayed my new leather shoes this morning, reading on the back of the label that the chemicals "can cause flash fires," and I day dreamed about being swallowed in a cloud of fiery death.

I got to thinking very quickly, in this maze of macabre disaster I call a home, about how I'd actually like to go out.  Having survived cancer already, I have conflicting opinions on the subject.  After surviving a life-threatening tragedy, you don't particularly want to go out in just any lame, regular sort of way.  You want some even more intense option, like drowning after saving everyone you love from a sinking battleship, or fighting off an alien invasion.

Other people are also aware of this fact.  I was crossing the street the other day with my friend Darrell, and when we got into the bus lane he held out his hand and said, "Watch out for buses.  You don't want to be run over by a bus after you lived through cancer."  And I'd say that's pretty accurate.

On the other hand, after surviving a horrible, traumatizing disease, it's easy to want to pick the most mundane way to die possible.  Sometimes I think I want to go out in my sleep, with no pomp or circumstances whatsoever.

"You planning to get up soon?  Nope?  Okay then."

It might be best to do that, and avoid all the messier ways, like sword fights with giants and skydiving snafus.  That way, everyone will have a semblance of closure.  Instead of, "If only he would have spent more time in the gym practicing his melee skills (because everyone knows giants have a resistance to elemental spells)," it would be more like:

"How did he die?"
"Why, in his sleep."
"Oh.  Well that's not very dramatic."
"Why no, not at all."

Something like this might be pretty ideal: *Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, DEAD*

So which is it?  After surviving cancer, I kind of get the notion that I won't be able to pick.  The natural progression (or random assertion of unconscious power) of the Universal DJ really doesn't leave any room for requests.  As much as I go back and forth between two extremes, I doubt that anything that has any control over how I go out cares in the least.  It's going to happen the way it does.  It almost did already, in a completely senseless and eye-opening kind of way.

"I'm coming for ya.  You know, eventually."

Whatever it is, I hope that the way I choose to live inspires someone.  Anyone.  And that the manner in which I leave this place is entirely washed away in the memory of what I added to it.

Image credits: Top -- Monster Shower Sign, by derekdavalos via deviantart; Middle -- Horse Sleep, by Ian Webb via flickr; Mid Bottom -- Studying and Sleeping, by mrehan via flickr; Bottom -- Death Rides a Pale Trike, by Marcus Ranum via deviantart