During the president's repugnant Bible photo op Monday evening, it struck me that I will not see the outcome of the extraordinary time we are living in.
They tell me I haven't long to live - “they” being the doctors. But even without the CT scan a couple of months ago, I knew that.
Not counting the pain during recovery from my Whipple surgery in 2017, which was significant, I had no pain until early March this year. Now it is an infrequent good day when random body pains don't intrude.
Mostly, it is the low-level kind of constant pain that grinds down one's energy and mind accompanied, in my case, by the darkest kind of thoughts. To counteract, I use over-the-counter pain killers liberally. They work (if you don't count the two hours it takes for them to kick in), and as to dosage warnings – oh, please. What does it matter now?
Also, my appetite is diminishing. I force myself to eat as much as possible to prevent frailty and it's not easy overcoming the urge to puke halfway through a meal.
Right now, I'm down two pounds from this time last month. (Do you know how hard I had to work at dieting most of my life to lose two pounds?)
Cancer and COPD together are robbing me of energy. I tire so easily that I sometimes need to nap in the afternoon, a time when I am done for the day doing anything that involves effort from body and mind.
Even reading is difficult later in the day. I understand each word but my focus is so weak I lose the thread of paragraphs and even sentences before I get to the end.
Due to my doubly damaged lungs – COPD and cancer – I'm fairly well freaked about COVID-19 so I'm overly careful about distancing, masks and disinfecting anything I bring into the house. Would that other supermarket shoppers cared as much.
It all sounds grim, doesn't it. But it's not. Discounting bleak thoughts when I haven't taken pain pills soon enough, I'm not unhappy and nowhere near miserable.
I'm adapting, as the diseases make necessary, to different living arrangements and I think that generally, most of us are like that. We make do quite well much of the time when circumstances require it.
You may recall that when I was first told I had pancreatic cancer three years ago, I immediately gave up my daily workout, having hated it for many years. Well, I'm back at it.
Those amazing nurses at pulmonary rehab showed me how exercise helps me breathe and I certainly know they're right because now, whenever I skip a day, I pay for it heaving for air if I move faster than a sickly old woman ought.
Last week, I was reminded of some sage advice from Darlene Costner when I quoted her in her birthday blog post about cutting back on housekeeping:
“I no longer care if my house is spotless,” she wrote...”I am aware that I am unable to do the hard work necessary. I shove it onto my list of things that I won’t worry about. Now I am more like Phyllis Diller who joked, 'I clean my house twice a year whether it needs it or not.'”
Me too, now.
The virus has made huge changes in all our lives. And now, following the death of a black man at the hands of white police, there is widespread civil unrest exacerbated by a ignorant, little boy president and his sycophantic, West Wing enablers.
Something big is happening in the United States. We already knew there would be no going back whenever the virus is contained. Now, whatever that new way of being, of living will be complicated by this eruption of often violent clashes and the divisions they are causing.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, I took part in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests and marches. My health doesn't allow participation this time, but I sure do want to see the eventual outcome, and what follows from that.
This time I won't and I am sorry about that. None of the fear, anger and disruption we are seeing now can be resolved in a few months or even years.
When I cared for my mother during her last several months and talked to my great Aunt Edith every week during the last two years of her life, I watched both of them, little-by-little, lose interest in and let go of the world and its events.
Ever since then, I have hoped their gradual withdrawal is a normal development as death approaches because I don't want to die feeling like I missed the last reel of the film.
As much as I yearn for this disinterest as my days dwindle down, for now I am still very much of this world, following events as closely as any previous time in my life. Curious, curious, curious and full of the can't waits to see how it turns out.
So, I choose to keep going for as long and as fully as I can or want in the time that remains. I choose to rise in the morning, be present each day, be kind to others and especially, to be as honest with myself - and with you in these pages – as I am capable.