Slow Turning

Like the song says, you can learn to live with love or without it

39

with one comment

I just finished All You Could Ask For: A Novel by Mike Greenberg.  Greeny has written a book about 3 women whose lives intersect after they are diagnosed with breast cancer.  He is donating his profits from this book to the Jimmy V Foundation.

This book stirred emotions and feelings that had been long forgotten and buried as time has passed by.  One of the feelings that had been buried was the pending doom I’ve felt about turning 39.  For most people, 39 is a holding place for contemplation before turning 40.  For me, it represented a milestone I could never get past.  I never knew why until I saw Madonna as a guest on the Rosie O’Donnell Show.  They both lost their mothers at a young age and talked about the significance of living longer than their mothers did.  I knew immediately why 39 was a milestone for me.

The book also made me see cancer’s role in my life differently.  For as long as I can remember, cancer was complete devastation.  And it only got worse after my uncle was diagnosed because then I saw it as cruel.  My uncle wasn’t just my uncle; he was also my dad’s best friend.  I know life isn’t fair but it seems especially heartless when you can die from the same disease that you watched your best friend die from 20 years earlier.

For as devastating as cancer can be, I’ve also started to contemplate how it  brings people together.  This notion was displayed beautifully in the book and made me realize that, without cancer, I would not have the life I have.  My mom was unable to have kids because of cancer, so my brother and I are both adopted.  Had she never had cancer, I would be a different person, have a different family, and an altogether different life.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around that but I know this, I wouldn’t change any of it.  That’s mostly because of my nephews.  I changed because of them and I would never change any part of my life if it meant living without them.

This book also made me realize that I knew in the moment that it was the last time I would have with both my dad and uncle.  With my dad it wasn’t the very last time I saw him, but it was the last time that he was able to sit up and talk with us for an extended visit.  I remember it mostly because during that visit, I closed my eyes and wished that I could freeze that moment in time forever.

With my uncle, it was a last minute visit.  I was in town and called to see if him and my aunt were home.  They were waiting for my mom to show up, so I headed on over. My mom ended up being late so it gave me an extra hour or so to visit with them.  My uncle was doing a little better, but I mostly remember thinking that he looked different somehow.  Maybe they knew that he was at the end and didn’t want to tell me.  I know I was happy for the visit when I left and appreciated it even more when he passed away two months later.

In just over 3 years, I will turn 39.  I’m not sure what that will mean to me when it happens.  My best guess is that it means I’ll have to learn how to start planning for the future.  I’ve spent the last 25 years unwilling to make assumptions about the future (even as a kid, I never wanted to say what year I would graduate because I was worried I would flunk and then have to tell people I was going to graduate in a different year), so it won’t be an easy transition, especially at an emotional level.

 

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Written by rachel

April 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm

One Response

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  1. Well, I agree with what you wrote, but not with all of it. Regardless, it’s all excellent material. Thanks!


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