Of late I’ve been thinking a lot about voyages, due, no doubt, to the centennial commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. The Titanic was the largest movable man-made object on earth…and pronounced unsinkable. It was a pitiless deception.
The ship was launched in early April on a great and ambitious adventure, with passengers representing all strata of society, from plutocrats to peasants. The Titanic was an exceedingly ornate and elaborate structure…a model of robust architectural busyness.
A recent documentary concluded that this grand ocean voyager sank because of “negative buoyancy.” Well, Duuh-uh! I always considered “negative buoyancy” a euphemism for age-related geriatric sag. I know well that feeling of betrayal when all things once thought eternally perky eventually sink.
There is an inherent comedic element to natural bodily functions and the tyranny of time…a sort of humorous chagrin about skin like beef jerky or limbs with dimples like inverted Braille. And frequently one’s social calendar is at the mercy of one’s regularity. The finest minds that ever lived have created structures specifically designed to cantilever our bodies to a state of perfect eternal float, until we ferment and fossilize. Women especially are expected to morph into fanciful hybrids of unrelenting youth and graceful maturity. The creations render us anatomically incorrect. Also, they’re anatomically inhumane. These are unrealistic expectations. Anatomy undulates. Our personal architecture loses some of its power, energy and force. We must deal with it, not conceal it. In fact, I think we ought to flaunt it, like medals of honor worn by veterans who have survived the extended warfare of simply getting through this life. What I wouldn’t give to be in charge of selecting the cover for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Sometimes I think we sign on for voyages assuming it will be a phantasmagoria of festivities and clear sailing on calm seas. But if we take the time to read the fine print on the agreement, we find there are no guarantees. Last week the waters became rather turbulent for us. Dennis had some issues that, at first, seemed to indicate a possible bowel blockage. The doctor at the Acute Care Center also made casual reference to a scan that possibly showed some irregularities (tumors?) in his peritoneum. No matter how frequently such incidents occur, it is never routine. We were stunned. This was news to us, since we had read the scan reports, and there was no mention of peritoneum involvement. The information came like a series of javelins thrown so fast we hardly had time to register collision.
And so we approached Dennis’ PET/CT scan on Monday with a degree of trepidation, preparing ourselves for the blow by conversation omission. We simply did not make our apprehensions audible. Sometimes not naming our demons makes them easier to abide, but my innards were a swollen knot. I did retreat to a small corner of my heart, where I could salvage enough composure to absorb the impact of the impending specifics and remain an intact entity. Not an easy task.
Wednesday we got the radiologist’s report of the scans. We read and re-read the information imbedded on those pages. Apparently, there is no evidence of spread to the peritoneum. There is some lung involvement that indicates a nodule in the left lung has enlarged somewhat. We expected this since Dennis has been off chemo for four months. And we have a battle plan. We are going for complete and utter obliteration.
I have a picture of a river so full of crocodiles that one can hardly see the water. The caption underneath reads, “The only way out is through.” It is by Robert Frost. Our family has adopted that philosophy as our mantra. Often one’s only viable option when trying to get to the other side is to go through.
A dear friend, Sam Arishita, suffered a freak fall that rendered him a quadriplegic. We talk regularly, sharing each other’s triumphs and disappointments. Recently he told me he was able to crawl across the floor. A monumental achievement. We were euphoric. Sam is a cherished and trusted friend, and we care deeply for each other. He is like a strong magnetic field that attracts what is positive and reflects it. He knows better than most how to navigate through treacherous, croc-infested waters. All our lives are interconnected. We were meant to learn from one another. If it is true that, as has been said, we attract what we dread, it is simple logic to stop dreading. If Sam can crawl across the floor and the heavens rejoice, surely I can put one foot in front of the other. There is a certain grace and power that comes with perseverance. It would be an offence to Sam’s miracles, not to mention our own, if we did not keep heading toward the other side of the river.
There are times in this voyage that I wonder if I actually signed up for the adventure, if I cross-checked the weather forecast and prepared for the perils. But I know our destination, and perhaps that knowledge, along with our compass, are the most crucial instruments of the journey. Possibly tempests are the most efficient means of reaching the Promised Land. Still, the only way out is through.
Sometimes I feel like a consort battleship. Other times I feel like I’m a little dingy. But in commemoration of the Titanic, and ALL things once thought unsinkable that have gone down, I’m going braless.