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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Nature of Fear

I didn't really want to get serious around here so soon after the 100th, but life gets heavy on its own schedule. I'll bring some more funny soon, but for now I just want to reflect on something.

I find that I have few fears in life. I have stared down the barrel of a gun, twice in fact, and not flinched. But there are fears that remain: more abstract, but perhaps more universal.

I certainly fear hardship in relationships. I’ve lost friends over stupid shit before, and I fear those interactions gone awry. I fear loss of prosperity, even as I keep in mind that my worst case scenario is far better than most of the world’s best.

And right this moment, I’m gripped by a somewhat irrational fear. I had no idea that you could backslide out of the stages of grief…I have been at “acceptance” with this one for many years, thankful for each day. But now I’m fearful again.

Mom found a lump.

This is a woman who has been fighting Lupus for most of my life, and whipping its ass. She’s a testament to the power of stubborn. Her orneriness has served her where medical science couldn’t figure out what the hell to do next. We’ve been saying goodbye to each other since I was 14. I’ve known an end was coming, and what it would be.

My Dad works the rivers as a towboat captain, and it is not a prideful boast to say he is one of the absolute best at his trade. While I was growing up, he’d be on the boat for a month, and then home for a month. It was a rhythm that led Mom and I to lean on each other quite a bit, to build a bond that I’m truly thankful for.

This is the woman who pinned me down and braided my hair into little blond cornrows once, just because I said she couldn’t. This is the woman who is terrified of bridges. This is the woman who told me I could be anything in the world. This is the woman who had ticklefights with me. This is the woman who grounded me to my room on many occasions. This is the woman who helped with my homework, the one who sang “I Love You A Bushel and a Peck” while rocking me to sleep when I was tiny.

This is the woman who would share Reese’s peanut butter cups with me at 2 am while we discussed religion, morals, and who exactly I wanted to be. This is the woman who was a fantastic artist. This is the woman who has been a realtor, model, cleaning lady, nurses’ aid, salesman, den mother, and most importantly a Mom.

The last time I saw her, I had to hold most of Little Danger’s weight so she could hold him. She looked like a lich, all skeleton and willpower, no physical substance beyond the will to live. She has put some weight on since then, thankfully; she’s gained muscle mass that allows her to again cook for herself and handle what chores she decides to do with an oxygen tank in tow.

Now there’s a chance that some new player has entered the game, that this lump may be something sinister. I’ve just lost two friends to cancer. Maybe I’ve returned to the neighbourhood of fear and anger because I think this is a cosmic insult. Disease, Babalu-Aye, has tried to court her for so many years and been rebuked. Soundly. I doubt that I find any humor if he’s reached into his bag of tricks to introduce her to a new adversary. Maybe I feel like he should just wait.

There is, of course, a perfectly reasonable chance that said lump is benign. But fear is, of course, an impatient master. It calls a tune that you find entirely too easy to dance to. “It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it, Dick…I give it a 9.”

I suppose I’ll just sit here wrapped in this cloak of fear for a bit, while Babalu dances on his crutches and makes his choice. I know I prefer a benign lump of just normal lumpish lumpiness, but the universe tends not to give a crap about our preferences. I’ll hope that the outcome is good, dreading the call that bears the news. It is not an end I shrink from, but the looming unknown. Such is the nature of fear.


  1. I am sorry to hear this. I hope everything turns out to be okay. I will keep my thoughts with you and your family.

  2. Best of Wishes, my friend.

  3. I love you. She did such an incredible job with you.


  4. Good luck, man. I hope for the best.

  5. Oh, Danger, what a dream letter from a son. Your mom is a wonder. You, she, your family are in my heart.
    Cancer's a bastard. He's taken a few of my family members and made himself known once again. It's pretty damn scary. Be gone, you bastard!
    Prayers your way...

  6. What a wonderful mum! Best wishes to you all.

  7. Thank you all for your warm thoughts, wishes, and prayers. I'll post here whichever way it turns out.

  8. Your mnother sounds like an amazing woman and reading about how you described your relationship made me teary. You are a wonderful writer.
    I hope that everything turns out for the best. My prayers are with you and your family x


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