- Are you sure this is what you want to do on Easter Saturday? The question came from my dear neighbor and relative Bertil, 91 years young. Yes, I am very sure, positive, I responded.
Bertil is my mother’s cousin and he lives down across the field from me, I can see his house from my kitchen window. It is yellow, with a beautiful bakers cottage, barn and well on the front yard, everything very well kept. This is the original family homestead, where my grandfather and Bertil’s father were born. Summertime we can take a short walk across the field to say hi to each other. But not now.
One foot. That’s how much snow we had that day a week ago. It was 14°F at my early Monday morning take off, and Trouble 2 had to come shovel me out from my snowed in fortress for my full day of fun at the hospital. Appropriate; that’s what my cancer winter was like, cold and snowy. Extremely cold and snowy.
Being back in all those waiting rooms is a trip back and down. This is what it was like. That fear. Breasts. Those nice nurses seeing things with their cameras that are hidden from me. Lungs. A couple of more pictures, we didn’t quite catch everything. Skeleton. Half an hour while the camera is working it’s way through my body. Half asleep to the sound of the nurses’ everyday small talk about this and that while I am screened hunting for death.
And then waiting for my oncologist. That waiting room. Wigs and naked heads. I used to be one of them. I was one of them. I had a great wig! I had never looked so good before, never gotten so many compliments in my life! And my naked scull was soft and even, I looked pretty cool, like one of those brave models. Only without eyebrows and lashes. And here I am today, preparing for the message if I am going to keep my hair this time, or if I am going to be one of them again. The wigs and the naked heads.
The walk through that waiting room after meeting with my oncologist is a weird thing. I was spared. Breasts, lungs, skeleton, all cleared! No cancer anywhere, everything clean and clear. I was spared. This time I was spared. I can go home. I am passing the door to the room where patients are lying on beds, sitting in chairs, fluids running into their bodies chasing for cancer cells, attacking tumors. I know that one of them is the wife to an old friend of mine, I met them in the cafeteria between the lungs and the skeleton. They are in there together. They are in this together. And I can go home. This time I was spared.
It’s white and bright and clean outside this Easter, from all that snow that fell a week ago. And it’s white and bright and clean inside me. I got a second chance. Again. My dear neighbor Bertil, 91, and I had a nice meal together in my warm and cozy kitchen on Easter Saturday. He told me stories about my grandparents who built my house and cooked the food in this very kitchen when Bertil was a little boy, his uncle and aunt. And we traveled the family tree together back to 1735, to Olof Olofsson who was a farmer here in the village and from whom Bertil and I descend. That’s the past that I am carrying within me. But what’s the future? I have been spared, and every time it happens I feel resurrected. Something that comes with relief, happiness, gratitude, strength and a great deal of pressure and responsibility. Some things to consider on an Easter Day.