October 29, 2008

It sticks in my head, O Best Beloveds, that it was Nov. 6, but I think I just made that date up. But I do know it was right at this time of year. I was down in New Orleans, spending the day with Rob, looking at cemeteries, and at the poorly maintained Odd Fellow’s Rest, we came across a wall tomb whose front door had crumbled, so that the elegantly chased bronze torso-shaped casket was easily visible. Given that Halloween was a couple of days away, we worried some Goth kid was going to prowl the cemetery and see that casket as their new coffee table. So we replaced some bricks, and Rob later came back and mortared it up safe.

So I was in New Orleans, and it was around Halloween, and I was doing Frommer’s work, so Steve was back home. And I said to him on the phone that night that I had found a lump in my armpit. “Isn’t that how it starts?” I morbidly joked, “with the heroine finding a lump in her armpit?” I had an appointment about the lump in my breast for when I came home, you see. It’s probably a swollen gland, Steve said, not dismissively, but more like, of course that’s all it is, that other option is something that only happens to other people.

But it wasn’t a swollen gland, and soon we were meeting Dr. Silverstein (“Do you need a hug? You look like you need a hug.”) and Dr. Waisman (“Call me Jim. You and I are going to be good friends.), and that was early November, which means it was right around now, and that was eleven years ago.

Eleven years!

Now, I think there is a temptation to sigh and think, oh, dear, eleven years. But that’s the wrong location. It’s really–yay, eleven years! Certainly, it would have been nicer to say, instead, eleven years and ten of those in remission. But it’s still quite significant to be able to say “eleven years!”. You know, at that very same Odd Fellow’s Rest, there was a particularly decrepit crypt, and someone had done some half-assed voodoo assemblage in it. Which didn’t bother me–it’s a real religious practice–but the former occupant of the tomb was still somewhat present, and I thought that was disrespectful, since that person may not have had positive feelings about voodoo. So I gently dismantled it. “Do you think this is bad ju-ju?” I said to Rob, who shook his head. After I got home, and met Drs. Silverstein and Waisman, I wondered. (I did ask my voodoo priestess, Ava Kay, and she said “First of all, that was fake voodoo. Real practitioners wouldn’t be doing that. Secondly, it didn’t hurt you. Thirdly, don’t do it again.”)

But again, I think that’s wrong location. Eleven years! That’s GOOD ju-ju.

Celebration-wise, what’s on tap is a CT scan in a couple of hours, to check out the current state of my liver. Then it’s off to Chicago for God Con, the American Academy of Religion’s annual conference. Time spent with God School chums Preacher Girl Nichole, Jackie, J.R. and probably some Theologians to Be Named Later. Lots of excellent and stimulating conversation. Hot Doug’s Encased Meat Emporium. Gary, Linda and Donna. Then it’s down to New Orleans, Nettie, Diana, Jill, Charles, Helene, Rob, Ti, Savoys and more. An embarrassment of riches, you bet, and plenty of food porn coming. And then I have chemo the day after we come home (unless that CT scan indicates some other course of action) because that’s the way to get to another eleven years, one dose at a time.

All kinds of good ju-ju, I tell ya,