Having re-read what I wrote in last week's column "Still Processing," I can't say it made me feel a whole lot better than when I wrote it. Granted, it was a column that had to be written given my self-indulgent tendencies (that I fight against constantly) and the possible crossroads that I may be entering. Nevertheless, if part of the underlying reason why I take up this space every week is to vent and share, as a means, hopefully not to a premature end, I suppose there was stress released there. But the subject matter was so third-rail-ish that even though I've tried to avoid it, I feel adversely affected by the experience.
The subject to which I so ambiguously refer is my own death. Aside from not wanting it to happen, if I don't plan in advance for it having happened, the chaos that will ensue and envelop my wife, Dina, is both unfair and inconsiderate. You see, in our relationship, she's been the social director and I've been the business manager. To quote my late father: "and neither the twain shall meet except on the twack." If I were indeed to predecease my wife, a fairly distinct possibility, not only would there be no twain, there would be no "twack" as well. There would only be trouble, and that's 'trouble' with a capital "T."
It's not so much that there are complications lurking, so far as I understand them: there are no children, no blended family, no special needs situations, no multi-layered business entanglements, no offshore anything (heck, there's very little onshore), our home and bank accounts are jointly owned, no financial thresholds exceeded, no delinquencies and few liabilities--really not much out of the ordinary. However, I get that ordinary is in the eye of the surviving beholder, which is likely not to be me. Therefore, if I want to contribute to my wife's quality of life after I've departed dearly (and to her peace of mind now, quite frankly), apparently a road map of sorts is in the offing. (And believe me, none of this is about control; it's more about initiative.)
I guess there's something in me that feels I need to get it out on paper so that I might act on it in person. Maybe writing about such a grim task minimizes its grimness, sort of like dipping your toe in the water before you jump? Maybe thinking and writing about the anxiety I'm feeling concerning what my wife will have to do after I've died is kind of a mental ice breaker. Not that I'm getting into any details here, it's more of "a broad brush," to once again quote my brother, Richard, about the need for consideration and fairness. The underlying problem is that getting into all this after-I'm-dead stuff seems and feels incredibly negative. And I try to ignore negativity. In fact, it may very well have been my positivity which has kept me alive all these live-long days.
I'm sure I'm rationalizing (maybe more like "irrationalizing") as an excuse for not doing what needs to be done, but I've always been good at that. In addition, I keep coming back to it's my life; I'm the one with "the cancer," to quote "Forrest, Forrest Gump," describing his mother's cause of death, as a means of justifying my stubbornness/unwillingness to make certain arrangements. I mean, when you think of it, having cancer is a heck of an excuse. And though I've rarely used it as one, I've always felt it. And with respect to planning for a future I don't have, I have to blame the cancer. It makes you do and think things you might not otherwise do and think. It's not as if anyone is ever prepared for a cancer/serious health diagnosis. Quite the opposite in fact. As such, you either learn to roll with the punches or get knocked down by them.
This recent/current experience hasn't knocked me down or out exactly, but it has made me a little wobbly emotionally, and reminded me just how insidious cancer can be. Once again, and for the first time in years, I seem to be at greater risk than ever. I suppose with risk comes opportunities. Having my tumors "typed" and in turn treated with specific/targeted medicine seems to be present just such an opportunity; exactly what the doctor ordered, literally.