Wake up. Get dressed. Check that the kids have everything. Type work into Google Maps. Kiss and hug the kids. Thank the in-laws for ensuring the kids get on their buses. Get into the car. Start the car. Follow Google Maps’ advice. Listen to the classical music station. Yell at the occasional car. Take the exit to work. Pull into the parking lot. Park the car. Go inside. Unlock my classroom. Start the computer and projector.
Teach. Grade. Troubleshoot. Listen. Laugh. Walk. Tutor. Email.
Shut the computer and projector down. Lock my classroom. Go outside. Get into the car. Start the car. Type home into Google Maps. Pull out of the parking lot. Drive home. Park in the garage. Turn the car off. Go inside. Start dinner. Watch for the kids’ buses. Change clothes. Listen to the TV. Cook. Serve dinner. Watch TV or read. Take a shower. Go to bed. Try to sleep.
The rhythm of my life seems simple, boring to an extent, yet there is comfort in the monotony. When an entire year of your life revolved around cancer treatments every three weeks, surgeries every three to four months, daily radiation treatments, and the uncertainty, fear, and terror which accompanies the sentence, “It’s cancer,” monotony can be beautiful.
I enjoy the rhythm, the rhyme of my routine. It soothes and comforts. It reminds me that life doesn’t stop. I am, for now, able to do all these things. I may not be able to do so in the future.
Illness and death are such touchy, taboo topics. No one wants to be sick. No one wants to die. Yet, death is part of the human condition. We’re frail, mortal beings. It’s not for us to be eternal. Our memories, our creations, what we leave behind may stand the test of time, but our mortal selves? No. We return to the earth to become part of the circle of life.
Life is a monotonous rhythm. Birth. Growth. Death. So, the cycle goes. We create the rhythm of our lives, the soundtrack to which we live, but the inescapable fact is that death will come whether we’re ready or not, and truly, who is really ready? We all want that last moment with someone to last forever, to be eternal, but it cannot be. That is the paradox of time. The more we have, the more we want, so the less we have.
Too many people in my life lately have been touched by cancer. A friend’s beloved boss. A former coworker. I’m tired of this scourge, of the rhythm of cancer.
Diagnosis. Appointment. Scan. Appointment. Treatment. Appointment. Lab work. Treatment. Appointment. Lab work. Scan. Appointment. Ad nauseum.
The rhythm of cancer is a discordant line, clashing against the steady melody of life. Yet, we adapt and bring it into harmony for as long as we can as a way of control. We crave control because with cancer, life is not something we control. We are at the mercy of doctors and scans and treatments and surgeries. Controlling cancer is an illusion, but it is a necessary illusion; for without the mirage that we can control it, our lives would spiral, sink into quicksand, be lost to the chaos.
And, so, we learn to love, to welcome, monotony where, for a little while, all aspects of our lives hum the same note. It’s comfort. It’s life.