December 7, 2011
I guess I could try and say a bunch of cliche and profound things about having cancer.
“I’m lucky to be here.”
“I shouldn’t be here”
“I’m fighting for my life.”
That one really gets me: I’m fighting for my life. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like fighting, it feels like an inconvenience. Yes, I’ve got this huge tumor the size of my fist right near my heart and I’m 21 years old and this shouldn’t be happening at my age, with my overall health, etc. etc.
This shouldn’t be happening.
But the thing is also, I don’t believe in that: This shouldn’t be happening. I’ve always felt the absurdity of anything occurring because it is so unlikely. The odds for any incident occurring are miniscule (if you consider how unlikely it is that any of us be born. The right sperm meets the right egg not to mention the unlikelihood of your parents meeting in the first place, etc.) The world is filled with improbability. I’ve always seen it that way. And so it is not entirely shocking to me, the randomness of having cancer at age 21. It’s not fighting. I mean, maybe it is but I feel like I just lay there in a barcalounger and take a benadryl-induced nap while they pump me with chemicals that will hopefully make the tumor go away. (They think it will, they think its working.)
Fighting is active. What I’m doing feels passive. I am letting them do things to my body to combat something my body and my soul have manifested that overall I will benefit from (experience wise) but all I have to do is lay there and let it happen to me. I am not cutting the tumor out of my body with a knife. I am not inventing new chemicals to destroy cancer cells. I am not fighting cancer. I’m letting them fight what my body has created that is not in its best interests in terms of survival. Fighting just doesn’t seem like the right word.
There are moments of vulnerability where I break down and feel the simple sadness of the diagnosis. Of the situation. Like when Victoria, my goddessmother, sent me a package and in it was this ring. It had a gold clover on it and I realized it was for luck. I put it on the ring finger of my left hand and squeezed my fingers together as tight as I could because I realized for the first time in my young life I needed luck in a life or death sort of way. Not a ‘luck to pass my finals’ sort of way, but a ‘luck to survive’ sort of way. I needed luck to survive. That was a blow. That concept struck me and made me sad.
What else: When I left the cancer center after my second chemo treatment my mom told me a story: There were two older people sitting next to me in the barcaloungers, getting chemo. (Well one of them was, the other was there for support). I always try and be cheerful when I go in to get chemo, even though I know I’ll feel like shit in a couple hours, when it starts I feel fine and everyone takes it so seriously. As if being serious will make them more likely to survive or something. I guess they are just scared. I try and be all smiles and long sexy hair flips of my gorgeous brown wig (the best thick brown real human hair China can export and New York can sell). I wear sexy yet respectful outfits, comfortable since I’ll be napping. I do my makeup the way I always do, with liquid black eyeliner, and soft lips. I try and look pretty for the nurses to prove to them I don’t always look as shitty and swollen to a crazy degree (the way I did when I came in the first time and the tumor was blocking the blood and fluid in my head and neck from leaving and I looked like I gained 50 pounds all in my face). I try and look pretty for the nurses. Especially my favorite, Else, who is from the Netherlands and pricks my veins no problem even though they are slippery, and speaks in her soft accented perfect English without hesitation or doubt that she knows what she is doing. Sometimes I love her, my angel mother.
I try and look pretty for the nurses and cheerful to make their jobs a little easier/better. I try and smile at the other patients and give them disapproving looks when they complain or smell bad or are rude to the nurses. I really shouldn’t. I should learn to be more compassionate.
When I walk around the cancer center I wear high heels so I can hear my feet clacking on the tile floors so I know I exist. So I know I don’t shuffle like an old person with soft shoes and a cane/walker. I keep my head up the way Maya Angelou told me to and I’m not particularly nice to anyone. By not particularly nice to anyone I mean I’m the way I always am. Professional, efficient, kind but distanced. I treat people formally and with smiles when they are helpful and harsh eyebrows when they are not.
Anyway, my mom told me this story: When I was getting chemo for the second time and I got up to use the bathroom the old woman next to me told my mom “She’s too young, she’s too young to be here.”
My mom, wise woman that she is, responded: “everyone is, everyone is too young to be here.”
But the old woman’s eyes welled up with tears and she said “yes, but she is especially too young.”
When my mom told me that it made me cry because yes, I am too young. But at least I have my beauty and my youth and a future to realize to help me make it through. I don’t know if it would be better to be old.
That was the other moment.
© Elizabeth Blue, 2013
19 thoughts on “Two Moments – by Elizabeth Blue”
Fair Elizabeth Blue, what a beauty you are.
thank you so much for writing! love, Lucia
I came across your site after seeing pictures of Jade’s “beautiful body project.” I am at a loss for words, really to capture how reading and pouring myself into “getting to know” Elizabeth and you have meant to me. I have been moved, more great full for my own blessings & “problems” and at the same time sad that you miss her. She really is inspiring, lovable poignantly funny and mysterious at once. I find myself looking at my own daughters differently than before and trying squeeze out more time to treasure them, really soak them in. What a gift she shared with us and I am glad that you still feel her with you. Oddly enough, not even sure if its possible but I feel her presence also. Something is calling me to dive deeper, to know more. Thank you for your spirit and for sharing your most personal experiences. -j
Dear Jen, I am so grateful that you found my blog and have gotten to know Elizabeth through it – you describe her very well, so I can see that you’ve spent some time reading! I’m so glad you’re taking the time to really treasure your own daughters. It’s so easy to start taking life for granted, and sometimes we need to be reminded how precious it is. I’m not surprised that you’d be feeling Elizabeth’s presence – so many people have told me they do, and I believe her spirit is connecting with many, and available to anyone who chooses to connect.
Thank you so much for taking time to get to know Elizabeth, and I hope to “see” you here again soon. blessings, Lucia
“But the thing is also, I don’t believe in that: This shouldn’t be happening.” Natalie and I have both felt the same about Philip; once she turned to me and said, “Mom, you know this was supposed to happen. You know he already cheated death once.” (She meant the day at the beach) Thing is, I knew exactly what she meant, yet neither do I believe everything is fated to be. But maybe some things; I believe that I am needing to know about death, that my “spiritual growth” (if that’s what to call it) requires it. And Philip’s here to help me do that. He once said to me (and I mean after he died), “Mom, you couldn’t learn what you needed to learn otherwise.” Did he HAVE to die? I can’t answer that. But he did, and he’s trying to guide me, and I spend more time kicking and screaming than letting him.
Such a wise one, your girl. Since I couldn’t meet her in person, I’m blessed to meet her like this.
Thank you! I’m glad you’re meeting her, and though sad this is how it is, grateful too, that her words are reaching you. They are wise in ways we can’t even know, our children, with Elizabeth having some deep soul knowledge of the shortness of her life…
Blessings to you, Lucia
This was such a wonderful insight from a talented young woman. Her words are breaking, tender, and humorous. I will miss Elizabeth’s kind soul.
Thank you for reading this post and for writing. It sounds like you knew Elizabeth while she was alive, and I’m grateful that you’ve found her words here. I hope they bring you some joy and move you, as they do me. blessings, Lucia
im sitting at work sulking about all the petty problems that have accumulated over a 24 hour period in my life and i come across this. one of my “favorite” posts of elizabeth’s. makes me sad, makes me appreciate, and motivates me to push on and enjoy the normality she tries to sustain in this entry. her talking about the passive role she had to play in her struggle haunts me and is a huge driving force behind everything i hope to accomplish or pursuing things i have put off out of fear of the unknown. she’s the strongest person i think i’ve ever known and i just want to say thank you for posting this. i needed it. again. i miss her like crazy but she still supports me with these words she left behind.
Thank you so much for writing and sharing how Elizabeth continues to support and inspire you! It means so much to me, as I know it would have touched her deeply, and I believe she is aware of this now too.
Thank you Lucia. Elizabeth stirs my heart, and I find that I love her.
Sally, how sweet and good to hear! I am devoted to sharing her with more people, so they will be stirred and moved to love. Thank you.
Elizabeth had an old soul in a young beautiful body with a strong heart and an incredibly sensitive mind.
Thank you Alexandra, for your beautiful words and your constant, loving support. It means so much to me, more than words can say. love, Lucia
Elizabeth’s voice is achingly poignant, so authentic, intelligent, wryly humorous, and soulful. Bless and thank you both for this gift you’ve shared. XO.
Thank you Mari, for reading and being witness to her voice. Blessings and gratitude.
Too sad and too beautiful – at the same time. thank you
Thank you for reading, and glad you were touched. Blessings to you.