When he stops you in the hallway and asks you how you’re doing, your body freezes, your mind races, and you wonder if what you’re going to tell this man should contain any trace of the truth.
You go for the one-armed church-hug, buying yourself two seconds to decide whether or not you should just run.
When he stops you in the hallway and asks how you’re doing, you contort your countenance into a pleasant smile. You close your mouth, lower your brows, and suck back your disbelief at his audacity.
You find yourself drenched in a guilty sweat, and though the hallway is dim, you’re convinced he can see it. You drop your jaw and pray for the right words to come.
You instantly regret the gift of speech. You become a tasteless oaf as you hold your hand out, babbling that you’re “ehh, so-so.” You’re just so tired, you say.
What you should have said was that you’re magnificent. You haven’t had a catheter in 21 years, you can eat whatever you want, and no one is holding a yardstick up to your life trying to measure your chances of survival beyond summer ‘16.
That stupid “so-so” hand now hangs limply at your side as you listen to him feign good spirits about his exhaustion. You weigh your options. You have to be careful what you say to a man with a tumor over his heart.
You could have been chipper, two-thumbs-up, telling him that life was great. You could have been sullen, as not to highlight the fact that your life, no matter what the predicament, is infinitely better than his. You could have met him in the middle, as you attempted to do, not detailing too much in either direction and trying to keep the focus on him. He’s done talking now. He’s nodding. You tilt you head and nod too. You don’t beat yourself up for fumbling over your next line: “Take care. I’ll see ya later.”
You know it like a Snapple fact: cancer complicates the hell out of things. Cancer complicates “how are you?” forcing you to calculate each possible outcome of your response to an everyday greeting. Cancer complicates “I’ll see you soon” because anyone who’s ever dealt with the disease knows that maybe you won’t. Cancer complicates any imagination of the future from your vacation next August to dinner tonight. Cancer complicates every complaint, every worry, every woe, but makes one thing overwhelmingly simple: I am fortunate to be both alive and well.
This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April (Day 7, Complicate) a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge. Catch up with my other #WYAOApril posts: Day 1. Surrender. Day 2. Ascend. Day 3. Heal. Day 4. Spill. Day 5. Ignite. Day 6. Love