12. Cancer takes a holiday... sort of.
Leaving your recently de-cancered wife at home to fly off to a film festival is not a decision you make easily. Yes, she may want you to go. She may even insist. But you will get plenty if side-eye from people when they learn you are stepping out while your better half sits at home binging Xmas movies.
But the truth is, we could both use the break. When you work from home most of the time, and your wife is also in the non nine-to-five world, you spend a lot of time together. When you are the designated care giver, hospital driver, chemo-session lunch fetcher, you will see more of each other than is probably healthy.
And it’s not just the time. It’s the sudden one-way-street nature of the relationship. Things are rightly focused on her. The medical fight trumps everything, as it should. It is the elephant in the room, her lovely bald head and bolted-on boobs serving as constant reminder of the thing you are both living with.
So a vacation solo isn’t such a bad thing. Focus on the creative, the fun, the life affirming elements of…
Yeah, I failed to realize that my parents, my first stop on this solo excursion, have reached the age where everyone is dying or dead.
“Do you remember Mrs. So and So?” My Mom asks. I tell her not really. “Well she just died, and her husband is in a home. Cancer.” I say that’s awful, although I have no idea is that is the case. (Not that I’m maudlin, but sometimes the end of suffering can be a good thing.) We make the rest of the where-are-they-now rounds, with turns into a seeming non-stop litany of people from church who are on their way to their great reward or suffering horribly as they wait for the inevitable. I hope for better luck when I ask how my sister is doing. Her dog is dying. My uncle? Cancer, maybe nine months to live. He comes over for dinner. I hug him and tell him how sorry I am. “What are you gonna do,” he tells me with the traditional stoicism only a Canadian Mennonite can muster.
The film festival, up the mountain in Whistler, is nice breather. Everyone asks about my wife. Those who know her assume she’s fine. Those who don’t suspect I’m an asshole, proving two things can be true at the same time. The parties are too loud for much conversation, the theater smells like a wet ski sock but a few nice words from people who saw my film puts a lovely sheen on the day.
But I know I’ll be back on the cancer-care-treadmill soon enough, and with luck, absence may have made my wife less sick of my constant “how ya feeling?” face.
As the song goes, how can I miss you if you won’t go away?