Me and my own mortality have had a bit or a love/hate relationship most of my life. One might assume that the worst thing that can happen to a wannabe hypochondriac is a Medical Establishment confirmation of a serious illness. That this would be the confirmation of wild fears at last and lead to a “I told you so!” line of thinking. My experience is that this is not the case. If anything, there is a peace in this knowledge.
Avid readers and anyone that knows me is aware the my past is dense is substance abuse. As I write this I am recognizing my 18th month of sobriety and continually aware of how much better my life has been in the last year and a half. That said, I have recently been made aware that part of the wreckage of my past are medical issues that tend to come with the zest in which I pursued my drinking career. These are serious issues.
So, now what? Quite simply (and this is where the peace comes in) it doesn’t matter. Now, that may sound like I don’t give a damn. That’s not the case. These are realities and I will take every action to assure that my length and quality of life are the best they possibly can be. I have doctors, medication, support and people with real experience in the same situations at my beck and call. When I say “it doesn’t matter” I mean that I’m not going to let it affect the way I can live my life today. I could very easily hide under the covers and hope that everything works out for the best. I lived my life like that for a while and there is comfort there. I feel safe under the covers. However, I’m also alone under there. I don’t do that anymore. When I say “it doesn’t matter” I mean that what happens in this world is not what’s important, it’s my reactions to it that make all the difference. If I want sickness, I’ll know sickness. If I want enemies, I’ll be surrounded by them. If I want fear, I’ll find it and I have.
I am afraid. I have had moments since my diagnosis in which I have felt the sudden terror of the amazing quality of my life potentially being ripped away from me. Jack will do something for the first time and instead of reacting with a smile, I’ll be holding back a flash of tears. Tears welling up at the mere possibility that this life, this amazing life, might be cut short. I let myself sit in the pool for a bit. I won’t do that anymore. If I dwell in fear, I’ll soon know cynicism again. I’m damn good at cynicism. That would take me to self-pity and eventually despair. After that I’m a bad justification away from “This just isn’t fair. So, what’s the use?”
Not today. I know it’s cliche, but that’s really all I’ve got. None of us have a guarantee of tomorrow. The world is filled with people that will perish tomorrow and have no idea of it. So, no, life is not fair. Who said it was? Hell, I’m glad it’s not. I don’t want fairness. I don’t want justice. I lived a life of selfishness and self-centeredness for much longer than the opposite I now attempt to practice. My life is a life of grace, of an undeserved mercy that has opened me up to a world I never knew I could live in. That’s what I get today. That’s why, just for today, I will not hide under those covers. I’ll keep taking the next indicated action, keep moving my feet and leave the results up to some one with a higher pay grade.
And it’s working.
Last week a man in a white lab coat told me “If you keep doing what you’re doing there is no reason you can’t live, if not a completely normal, a very close to normal life.”
So, no, life isn’t fair. My job is simple and clear. I stay sober and in exchange I get to spend the rest of my life in service of others. I get to wake up early and cook my boy breakfast. I get to rub my wife’s feet. I get to, if I “keep doing what I’m doing”, be in the room when my wife gives birth to our daughter in August. This time clear-eyed and with a steady hand. I get to be the most authentic George I can be, screwed up liver and all.
Because it doesn’t matter. What happens in this world is not important, it’s my reactions to it that make all the difference.
Thanks for indulging my catharsis. Be well.