I sort of fell off the internet over the last two and a half months (which have felt surreal) but leave it to my beloved Wilbur to bring me back to my blog -- finally ready, I guess, to talk.
This summer had me thinking a lot about cancer. All the time. In June, my dear friend Lissa was diagnosed with breast cancer. In late July, an internet friend and kindred spirit, Beth, died after a long, brutal battle against cancer. I was angry at cancer, sick of cancer, hated cancer. I didn't want to hear about another person I loved being attacked by cancer.
On July 28, Atticus got a phone call, and we went in to see the doctor. A routine colonoscopy had revealed cancer.
There are all kinds of stories to tell about the month of August: waiting for the CT scan and the MRI, which would eventually tell us that the cancer didn't appear to have spread (though, we were cautioned, we wouldn't know for sure until after surgery.) Meeting with one doctor who scared us terribly, then meeting with a surgeon we liked and trusted. Not being able to get surgery on the calendar until September 15th. Five days, four nights in a hospital two hours from home. Dissolving into tears when (as we were preparing to check out of the hospital) a young resident delivered the news: the pathology report was already back. It showed no spread to the lymph nodes. They got all of the cancer out.
I hadn't realized, until I crumpled into my husband's arms, how the hope for that news had been holding me upright until that moment.
And so, the prognosis is very, very good. Atticus is four weeks into recovery, and is getting a little better every day. There will be close follow-up, but he's working, he's sleeping. The man who ran two half-marathons last spring/early summer is running again. He's adjusting to his post-surgery body. We can start to breathe again.
And think about poetry. And Richard Wilbur.
"The Beautiful Changes," Richard Wilbur said.
Everything changes. All the terrible, wonderful, maddening time. The ground beneath your feet shifts, something breaks, you think you're falling. Then the dust settles and you see that
the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.
And you are thankful for that second finding, for the hope that kept you upright. You are thankful for wonder.
I couldn't let a Poetry Friday about Richard Wilbur pass without referencing "The Writer" (which I have posted here numerous times). It's about his daughter. It's about my daughters, the daughters and writers who love Atticus. As Wilbur did his daughter, I wish mine always "a lucky passage."
It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
The beautiful changes daily. Minute by minute, it sometimes seems. And so I will keep wishing what I wish for Atticus and for my girls, but harder.
May Richard Wilbur rest in peace, and may my beloved Atticus live as long and beautiful a life.
You'll find the Poetry Friday round up at A Day in the Life.