Monday, August 25, 2008

This whole leukemia business

can be dispiriting. I’ve been in it for nearly two and a half years. The best that can be said is that I’m still kicking.

On Saturday, we drove Mariel to Swarthmore College to begin her junior year. This involves driving through New Jersey, which begs the question, how does anybody live there? If you can call traveling at 20 miles an hour for what seems like eternity living. After hauling her stuff (including contraband kitty) to her room, and lunching with her roommate, we headed back onto the NJ Turnpike where we once again sat bumper to bumper, continuing into New York and over the Tappen Zee Bridge. New Jersey can’t even contain its traffic. The Tappen Zee bridge has a droll (to me) sign about a quarter way over the span that urges you to use the phone booth at the bridge’s center if you have doubts that life is worth living. I admit I was having black thoughts after lurching and sucking on fumes for hours. We stopped at a friends’ house in Larchmont for some much-needed rest. Just after midnight, we pulled into our driveway.

I was sad to see Mariel go, and sad to see she had not taken the destruction that is her room with her. It’s a classic example of a neatnik parent producing pigsty progeny. Sifting through the detritus she left behind, I unearthed a book by Junot Diaz. This made me think of Leah Ryan because she once wrote on my blog that Juno Diaz rocks, which if you’ve read his latest novel (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), you know he does. But thinking about Leah and her brief wondrous life made me sad. So did thinking about other people I know who are still sparring with the leukemia monster. The unnerving thing about the disease is that you have no idea if the bout’s over. You wait in the corner listening for the bell signifying yet another round. It may never ring, but you can never let down your guard.

The first anniversary of my transplant approaches. I am in a much better place than I was a year ago, but the toll has been steep. You keep saying you’re glad to be alive, but as time passes you think about what’s been lost. The emotional and financial burdens can be steep. You embrace life, but you can’t believe the sharp little knives that poke out and stick you.

See where bad traffic can lead?


Jennifer said...


I wholeheartedly agree with you - why would anyone live in NJ - I grew up in New York even if I grew up in NJ I would deny it.

Sorry you are feeling unsettled today. I hate that feeling. I hope it passes quickly but with your anniversary approaching I have a feeling it will linger.

Jim said...


Stay out of New Jersey. Find a state that makes you understand unequivocally you've given The Beast the finger.


runnerwrites said...

Anniversaries are so complicated! They make you go over the whole thing all over again. But you've come so far and you sound so good. Keep on truckin' and thanks for sharing. You sound very strong. Don't feel down on yourself for feeling blue. It comes, it goes.

Sue L said...

I have traveled that road w/some degree of regularity until recently. I'm a transplanted Pennsylvanian who migrated to NC then to RI, w/family in between. Even w/o "the whole leukemia business" those thoughts are ones everyone has on that route. Hence the sign... Sorry it was tough going & hope all is well..