“Oh, I almost forgot,” she says. We are at D & S’s place, having just finished an enjoyable day of board games, a movie, and dinner. I’m tired, complacent, and a little bit nauseous (I didn’t say it was a great dinner). I’m thinking about the drive home and whether I will need to use the can of energy drink I brought along, and whether I should go to the bathroom before we leave. I’m only vaguely listening because I am already mentally out the door.
“I need you two to witness my Patient Advance Care Directive,” she says.
It’s as if my mental state was glass, and someone swung at it with a hammer. I would swear there was a chiming, tinkling sound as the entire mood of the day fell in a thousand sparkling shards to land in a heap. I am suddenly shaken to the core, jolted back from my pleasant, relaxing, and enjoyable day of Tokaido and Yggdrasil and Arrival to the foundation of our current reality.
Awful, insidious. potentially murderous Lump.
Patient advance care directives are good things to have. I am glad that she has one, and I am glad that she was smart enough to remember to get the witness signatures. I am not suggesting that it was a bad idea. It’s a relief to me that it is now taken care of.
But it’s an example of how life with Lump can sneak up, can catch me off guard if I am not prepared, can suddenly throw a gigantic black cloud over everything. Its part of the reality of living with Lump. Its a reminder that Lump is down now, but Lump may not be down forever. It points out that waiting out there somewhere further ahead in time there may be hard choices, bad consequences, lousy trade-offs, painful decisions. And they can sneak up any time. There’s no safety – there’s no assurance. It isn’t possible to say “today is a good day” anymore – we can only judge yesterday.
Of course, it was never possible to judge a day before it was done. But as we grow older, the chances of something happening to suddenly ruin a perfectly good day increase, little by little. The bad surprises increase. And the possibility of bad surprises becomes more concrete, more real to us as we experience others succumbing to them over the course of our lives. That should have made me more ready for this, and maybe it did. I didn’t fall shrieking to the floor. I didn’t panic. I didn’t audibly gasp or go white or even say something to delay or deflect the process like “it’s late and I am tired, could we do this some other time?”
Instead I just quietly excused myself as if I had to go to the bathroom, went into the hallway where no one could see me, sat down with D & S’s dog for a few minutes, shed a few tears as quietly as I could, pulled myself together, and went back out and watched the process. By the time it was over I was back in control of my emotions and ready to face traffic on the way home.
And I didn’t even need my energy drink – I was absolutely wide awake.