Saturday, August 2, 2008

One Day At A Time

Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promisory note. But today is money in the bank. I learned that from my Father. No, he's not a banker. But he is someone who has lived one day at a time for the last 32 years.

When you think about it, all we really have is today. That becomes crystal clear when you have cancer. Get through today. Tell people you love them. Tell your children how proud of them you are. Give your dog a hug. Give your neighbor a smile. (When was the last time you saw your neighbor?)

One day when I was really having a hard time during treatment, I tried to notice everything. I watched my Wife sleep. I saw the morning light from my bedside window beam through. The sheets smelled freshly washed. There was a little hand print on the closet door mirror. Was that creak in the floor always there? Or was it a new one? Do my dogs really know what I'm saying? Yeah, like we're ever gonna find that out.

This one day lasted a long time. Thankfully. Instead of counting down until my radiation treatment, I was looking at my hands. My feet. My tube sticking out of my stomach, down through my shirt, up into a black bag while listening to the pump push liquid food into my stomach so I could eat. Instead of marking the day off the calendar signifying another day closer to the end of treatment, I went outside to Teresa's Freedom Garden and actually smelled the roses. All of them. Instead of keeping my eyes closed as the table moved me into the radiation tunnel, I watched the ceiling disappear and stared straight into the eye of the machine.

As the day became one special moment after another, I thought about a lot of other things that you should or shouldn't do in a day. Kiss someone. Or something. Laugh out loud. Laugh at yourself. Laugh when you whack your head on the cabinet you just left open instead of spewing out words that would make your Mother's jaw hit the floor––or hit you. Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care. Watch the leaves move with the wind. Tell your Son he's a great Father. Tell your Son to live his dream while he can. Tell your Son you're glad he's there to help you through. Tell your Daughter the best thing she can do is finish what she starts––if not for her, then for you. (It's OK, it's not guilt.)

Don't flip off the driver who just cut you off. Pity him. Don't avoid eye contact. Don't go to bed mad. Because today is always here. It never really goes away. It gets to come back, again and again. It's what we get. Makes me think of Radiohead, Karma Police––this is what you get. This is what you get.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No Swimming Near Jetty

The signs are everywhere. Only trash, no recyclables. Open from 10 AM until 3 PM after May 1. Please use side entrances when returning from the beach. No strollers tableside. Tips are appreciated. Gus & Gus'––great breakfast for two, $12.

On July 24, Teresa and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. So we went away. Which is what I said when people at work asked me where I was going. Away. Sort of a Staycation? No, just away. Teresa and I are celebrating our anniversary away. Away from the city noise. Taking the rush out the hour. Back to the beach.

Last year, for our 25th we went to the beach and had a marvelous time, as Teresa would put it. Marvelous, indeed. I knew last year that something wasn't right with me. I just didn't know what. The pictures from our trip showed us very happy. We took some of those "here, let's take a picture together with me holding my arm out as far as it will go, so we can try to fake everyone out that we didn't take this picture ourselves" photos and we were as happy as ever. Hell, we were Greg & Teresa, not Mom & Dad, Grandma & Papa, Husband & Wife. It was just us. And we actually liked being with each other. A lot.

This year––today, in fact––Teresa told me she could "see the whites of my eyes pretty good. They look white for the first time in a long time. They're not so grey. You're getting your energy back." Didn't know she saw that. That's another thing I learned today about what cancer does to the body––how people can see things you don't see. They see the signs. The signs that give you hope. That give strike you in the simplicity of the message. "No swimming near the jetty." Hundreds of people today totally ignored the 7 foot sign stuck in the sand. Easily thousands in the four days. Either they didn't care or they didn't see it.

Thank you for noticing, Teresa.