Courtesy of my students, I bring you the latest from the list of Alternative Explanations for the Hole in Mrs. Lybbert’s arm:
#38: She joined the Bloods to run the trap house.
#39: Parkour, gone bad
And yes, I had to beg a definition for trap house. (Oh, the things I didn’t know I didn’t know.)
They also think I should get some cool, elbow length gloves, and be fancy–or at least mysterious.
It is intruguing to me, on the other hand, the reaction adults have to this word “cancer”. It has such a powerful hold on the collective psyche of humans, that I feel a little bit guilty for contracting it–or at least for admitting to it.
If I were considerate, I would have kept the diagnosis to myself, until all danger had passed, wore long sleeves for the rest of my life–or at least until the scars appeared suitably old news, and then brushed off the incident as a mishap occurring long ago, in my youth.
There isn’t, really, a polite way to share this type of news.
Half your associations will believe they should have been told first. The other half (or maybe all of them, secretly) will think you shouldn’t have told anyone at all. Everyone will demand an explanation of how this could have occurred, and the specifics of how soon they might expect your death. Scientific names. Statistics. Timelines.
I, of course, neglected to organize such paperwork in a timely manner. All I have, thanks to a phone call from the clinic, is a vague idea that I have something with a name that sounds suspiciously like an Italian side dish, and that it’s got a mitotic rate fast enough to need immediate attention.
No, really. That’s it. That’s all I know.
And (brace yourselves) I don’t actually want to worry about how that makes you feel. Because isn’t that a choice? If you choose to let a medical diagnosis–yours or someone else’s–frighten you, how is that my responsibility?
Callous of me, I know.
I mean, I could have kept this news to myself until after the surgery. After all, how frightening, really, is something that sounds like pasta?
That would have been the polite thing. I am not, strictly speaking, dying. I have cancer in my right arm, and its removal is going to leave a noticeable scar. Instead, I chose to share that news myself in several public conversations I controlled the venue and timing of, as opposed to hundreds of individual ones I could not.
Because the truth is, I don’t know that one surgery will fix everything. And I don’t feel like sneaking around in order to protect anyone else’s sensibilities. I have to-do-lists to make and account passwords to compile for the remote Possibility That Something Happens.
Not because I’m frightened or misty-eyed or gloomy–but because that’s what a responsible adult does in these situations. You buckle up, make sure the tank is full, unfold the map, and set out on your journey.
And maybe I’m grotesquely cold-hearted, but that’s actually all I want to do right now.
I appreciate expressions of love, yes. Of course.
But sentimentality isn’t my style.
Elbow length gloves, maybe. We’ll see what my sophomore with the bedazzled crafting obsession comes up with 😉