things I am not tonight

For the past few days I’ve been dragging myself over coals on a couple of short stories like they meant everything. Not that they mean nothing. But at the same time I had my little scare…because when you are like me, everything is a little scare…constipation, a cold, an ache, an odd looking sore. So when these things clear up, it is also a little relief. Which is not accurate, the “little” part I mean, it is always a relief. Which is a gift. Because otherwise I might forget, and think that what I’m writing or doing means more than what it does. These things do mean something, of course, whether a story is good or bad in the end, it is how I spent those hours, how I invested my thoughts and emotions. But it’s not everything. It’s not nothing either, just something. it’s an odd thing, perspective.

So having met my last deadline of many today I came home and didn’t know exactly what to do with myself. I just lay one our couch/futon and then I kept lying there. It was pretty great.

Tonight we went out for dinner (Vietnamese) and came home and watched the first half Angels in America while I folded the laundry Paul did earlier today (I waited him out, and he broke…ha! I hope nobody buys him underwear for christmas). It is a really amazing production, if you’re not familiar with it. It’s about the gay community in New York in the 80s, about AIDS, about religion and politics and probably a few other things. But to me it’s mostly about facing death. And here’s the thought I have when I watch a movie like this:

I am not dying.

Specifically, underneath that, I think, “I do not have cancer”, which is a little hypocritical because I am a huge proponent of the idea that one does not have to die of cancer, but there it is–in my mind I still link my greatest chance of dying with having cancer. Only after I think about it do I alter the words to, “I am not sick.” Before that, I think that other thing.

And here is the other sacriligious word I add to the phrase:

Tonight.

As I watch the image on screen of a man who is alone, and slowly dying, I think that when the movie ends, and the image on the screen is gone. I can walk upstairs and my husband will be sleeping on the bed. He is there and healthy, I am here and healthy. I am not alone tonight. I am not dying tonight. And I am grateful for that.

But gratitude and faith are only distant cousins, and I do not forget how fast it can all change, how one cold can turn into one blood test that can change all the definitions without changing any of the reality. So on the day before a test I can say, I am not, tonight, but it might not be true, because the next day after results come in, my entire reaction to the man on the screen would be different. Yes, i would say to him, I am sick too. We belong to the same club, we are going the same place.

I think, I hope, I would still be grateful, as each day I am grateful now, for this life.

Which is something.

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