…and I’ll cry if I want to.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m 57. Late 50s now, and I haven’t the slightest idea how I got here so fast. I’ll be 60 before I turn around twice. My son Ethan literally almost set my birthday cake on fire with all those candles, which provided a brief burst of laughter in what was just another grey, rainy day much like the ones that preceded it. That’s the problem with January birthdays: the weather is ugly, no one has money so soon after Christmas, and who feels like partying? Not even me, the birthday girl.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good day. The family took me out to dinner night before last and fixed my favorite chicken fajitas last night; and Will has had several decent days in a row now, which is a blessing for all of us. He still doesn’t have much energy, but he hasn’t been throwing up as often and his blood sugars have stayed level, even at 4 AM when they’re most apt to tank.
Still, the knowledge that we’re coming to a crossroads is growing more certain every day, and it weighs heavily on my heart. After two and a half years of treatment, he is tired and he knows that further efforts to beat back the cancer are not going to make him feel better, let alone cure him. We’ve done our research on the chemotherapy drugs his doctor ordered, as well as talked to an oncology nurse friend of mine, and it’s one of the hardest courses he could possibly take. In addition to making him feel like death warmed over, it could wreck his ability to fight off infection, which would be disastrous. His immune system is already compromised…all he’d need is another bout of pneumonia or cellulitis with no white blood cells to fight it off, and it’s game over.
Neither of us wants that. So there are decisions to make, but he gets to call all the shots because it’s his life, his body. Only he knows how he feels and what he’s willing to put up with. And whatever he wants, he’s going to get.
Of course, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. I don’t want him to die a minute sooner than he absolutely has to, but neither do I want him to take treatments that might make him wish he were dead. At this point it’s all about his quality of life; we’ve been lucky to have these months and years together, and we were extraordinarily fortunate that he got better for the cruise and was able to enjoy it. But the inevitable is approaching, and we will count ourselves blessed if we can squeeze out a little more time. Every night I ask God to keep Will with me, but only as long as he can maintain his dignity and not suffer too much…I can’t be selfish like that. I can’t stand to see him in pain and miserable.
No, these are not happy thoughts for a birthday, but I’m thankful for all the birthdays I’ve shared with Will…and this one may turn out to be the most memorable of all.