we live in a beautiful world

What an absolutely lovely, beautiful day. I even wore the pink coat to work today. And now it’s too warm for it. And I have on my thin lavender sweater with the snaps, and my pretty green and purple jewelry, and my hair is good and the weather is good and life, in general, is just good.

And it’s so strange, how life works. Because this morning some guy had a case of road rage because I didn’t read his mind when he stopped dead in the middle of a lane hoping that I would let him into my lane, but without signaling. He followed me down the road screaming and honking and flashing his lights and tailgating me and it didn’t really get to me a bit. I just thought “whoa there, cowboy, easy on the crazy” and made sure I was always parallel to a car in the other lane so he couldn’t get in front of me.

On another day an incident like that might bring me to tears and/or panic, but today it’s just another Loriestory.

I have a coworker who is battling cancer. She has a particularly aggressive and rare kind of cancer that affects only a few thousand people every year, and it’s back after being in remission for three years. She had surgery before Thanksgiving to remove the tumors, which caused her digestive system to stop functioning. The doctors kept hoping that her intestines would “wake up” and start working again because apparently this reaction is pretty common after major surgeries in that area. But it’s been months and her digestive system is like “leave me the fuck alone, I quit.” At this point they’ve sent her home and have said there’s nothing else they can do about it.

People have been signing up to take meals to her family three times a week while she recuperates, and today I went along with my two friends to deliver the food and visit for a while, because I haven’t seen her since before her surgery. She doesn’t look sick – she’s not emaciated or puffy like some cancer patients. She doesn’t sound sick – she’s in good spirits and talking just fine. But she has tubes and bags and poles and IVs and stuff she has to carry around with her, and she’s most embarrassed about the feeding tube, which they had to put in through her nose because her stomach’s too damaged.

We talked for a while, mostly good stuff, but while we were there she confessed that the doctors said the cancer would probably return in six months, and it’s been three months. And they haven’t started her chemo yet because she’s not well enough, and they don’t know if it will work even when she is, and although she’s getting stronger there’s a sense that she’s running out of time. And when M & J were telling her how to heat up the food they’d brought, she said, “I wish I didn’t have to smell it – then I wouldn’t miss tasting it so much. I’m determined to be able to eat again.”

After our visit we went to get lunch and as I took the first bite, I really tasted it. And I thought about how awful it must be to maybe never be able to eat food again. And I teared right up.

That’s the part that hits me most, for some reason. Eating is something we take for granted, something that seems to accompany every moment of celebration, joy, pain, or sorrow in our lives. Food makes an occasion for so many people. We’ve been bringing food to her family to support them, to show our love for her. And she can’t eat any of it.

On another day this might have me locked in my office and sobbing. It might have me furious at the injustice in the world, that someone so wonderful and friendly and loved by so many is having to go through this. But today, even though I’m sad for her, I’m mostly thankful that she’s still here for us to visit. And if she says she’s determined to eat again, then I believe she’ll find a way to make it happen.

I’m glad I went to see her, and I’m thankful for every bite of the wrap I ate at lunch. It’s still a beautiful day.

9 Replies to “we live in a beautiful world”

  1. Great, now you made ME cry! I have a friend who is battling leukemia and it isn't going so well, either. I'll appreciate every bite I put in my mouth for awhile, too!

  2. That's what Warren Zevon said to David Letterman when he was on the show and knew he was dying… “Appreciate every sandwich.” God, that's something to get you going but good.

  3. fucking poignant. really. i'm going to go home and hug my daughter. or my neighbor's daughter. or maybe that's not such a good idea. but i'm definitely going to hug somebody.

  4. not to only comment on the not-deep part but it's late and i honestly couldn't read through the whole thing, i just got really excited when i saw that you got the pink coat and i'm using my last two ounces of energy to say so.

    ps, in continuation of a theme, you showed up in a dream of mine the other day. you were cute and wore a big scarf and you let me do your makeup and we went out on the town with all these other people i know. random. might not have even been you but at the moment it seems like it's true.

  5. This it the Lorie that is a beacon to the world. I love it when your virtual smile is so bright I have to put on my shades.

  6. reality can sometimes be a harsh reminder of the fragile world we live in and how our daily-do's block out the sufferings of others who are less fortunate.
    i enjoyed my lunch alot today. hope your workmate gets well soon!

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