Thursday, March 6, 2008
I had one of those dreams last night. You know the sort: you find yourself in a familiar but very old environment, something is about to happen and you’re totally unprepared. It might be high school or college and you’re on your way to a test, but not only did you not study, you’re not even sure you attended any classes! Or maybe you find yourself back in elementary school, sitting under a desk in your underwear, wondering how you’ll get through the day without being noticed.
Last night I dropped my daughter off at school and someone reminded me of a PTA meeting I’d promised to attend that was about to start. I drove straight to the host house, dropped my coat in an empty room, and wandered around noticing parents I hadn’t seen since my pre-empty-nest days. I wondered why some of them looked at me oddly until I remembered I’d forgotten my wig. I was wandering through a crowd of people who didn’t know I had cancer, announcing the fact with my patchy, scraggly, white, cellophane-like hair.
When I have one of these very vivid dreams, I like to lie in bed and hold onto the feelings it evokes. I think that helps me better understand my waking emotional landscape. This dream carried a heavy sadness I don’t like to indulge when I am awake. It underscored my self-consciousness, my loneliness, and even a sense of guilt.
I have cancer. I am alone and frightened. I have wonderful people who think about me and care about me and know the full extent of my health situation through things I’ve written in this blog. But the truth is, this adventure brings a very painful sense of detachment. Some of you have said: I don’t know how you do it. Well, I don’t know how I do it either. I mean, mostly I just put my head down and plod through day by day. But sometimes I look up and try to see further than next week, and I get really scared.
Head-down-plodding gets you only so far. I’ve applied all my competence to getting through the cancer crisis and it seems to be working. But in the process, I’ve neglected other things. My life feels like a big chaotic mess to me right now, and that’s the part I don’t know how I’ll get through.
All this from a dream.