It has been three weeks since the doctors told me there is no treatment for my cancer and that video above is a pretty close representation of what my mind, since then, has been doing.
It's all over the place skipping from one feeling, thought, idea or notion to another without finishing the previous one. I can go from considering death as the last great adventure to paralyzing fear in a second or two.
Or from pondering the mystery of cancer cells gone awry in a way that is certain to kill themselves by killing me, their host, to wondering how I should now choose the books I read.
From wondering why I can't yet make myself order my cremation (it's not hard to do, for god's sake) to clicking over to YouTube to watch cute kitty videos while worrying that I'm wasting what time I have.
And so on. Random. Purposeless. Unproductive.
There is no instruction book for end of life especially in a culture, the United States, that hides death and dying from everyday life so that we who are near checkout time are on our own with few, if any, examples to call on.
In fact, for all the hundreds of books and thousands of articles, studies and news stories I've read about ageing, death and dying, there is hardly anything written by or for the dying person. Almost all of it is for, by or about the caregiver.
Which is not to take a whit away from the kind, dedicated people who take on that burden privately and professionally. They are special in ways I am not nor could be. But their experience is different from the person doing the dying.
What I have discovered is that little cultural attention is paid to this period of time between dire diagnosis and death. It is fairly easy to find out what the final days, hours, moments of life will be like – at least from the outside. There are many sources.
But no one tells us about navigating the period of time - be it weeks, months, a year or so - when you can no longer fool yourself into believing you will live another 20 years and become one of the ancients.
So I'm making it up as I go along. What most keeps me engaged are friends online and in person. They are my comfort and ease who, depending on distance, have stepped up without being asked, keeping in touch by phone, email, inviting me to lunch and dinner and offering open-ended help now and in the future.
Even as someone who always has needed and still needs more time alone than many others, nothing else keeps my mind from ping-ponging hither and yon as much as close contact with people I love.