The Crush Of Space And Time

So here I sit.  Avoiding introspection.  You may want to look away, Bloggers;  this isn’t about comics or movies or TV or any kind of pop culture, but there are nonetheless SPOILERS ahead.  And they won’t be very nice, or easy to swallow.


No, seriously:  this will not be fun reading.  It’s gonna be very personal.  And gloomy.  I’m not joking.


Well all right, if you must hang around…



There’s a thing, I’ve learned, that distinguishes cancer survivors from cancer fatalities.

The first group has time enough to complete their course of treatment.  Whatever it happens to be, you know?  Wheat grass, Chinese teas, chemotherapy, whatever.  The distinguishing characteristic of cancer fatalities is that they do not get to complete this.  They get knocked on their ass…they have to switch horses…they get kicked out of the clinic…they run out of money…

They run out of time.

One way or another.

And so, it looks like my friend is getting very, very close to running out of time.  She is shaving slices off the particle horizon like it was a Pittsburgh ham;  she is this close to passing out of the observable universe altogether, even though she is not gone, not yet.  Basically there is just enough time for a miracle.  Kale juice.  Jesus, maybe.  Aliens with faster-than-light drive.  Fucking something.

Is it too late to hope for “spontaneous remission”?

The thing is, I don’t even know if it’s too late to hope for that.  No one can give me any odds on it.  I usually feel that my role in these things is to be the guy who stays stuck in denial until the very last second.  Hope?  Hope is springing up like rusty flowers every place I put my foot down, if you say nothing else for me at least you can say that. She is not out of time yet. Until she runs fully out of time, she will not be fully out of time.

Except I am told that there may be a time, maybe even soon, when she will not technically be out of time, but there will not be time enough for her to use that time, to get better.  Which amounts to the same thing, right?  Well, the sports fan in me says no, of course.

But even the sports fan in me is feeling the gradual crush of space and time right now.

And in fact the sports fan in me says “yes”, because I lied before.  Because sports fans may not be pessimists, but they’re keenly attuned to possibility.

It was different when she had months.  It was different when she had a month.

But now she is coming to the end of all the predictions that were ever made about her.  She has another tumour.  She didn’t tell me.  I kind of knew;  but, you never really know, until you know.

And I feel like I’m a month behind in thinking good, denial-laden thoughts about this tumour.  A month behind in cheering against it.  Listen, Bloggers, this is something I understand very well:  you always feel like it was you, somehow.  You always think it was somehow your fault. This is how human beings are wired.  It’s just how it is.  It’s part of grieving:  it’s the astral cord that connects what you feel, to what someone else goes through, to the body in the box.  It’s what makes it awkward to communicate, with someone who needs to talk to you or hold your hand another time before they go.  You feel responsible.

But you’re not, of course.

And I know enough not to make the mistake of believing what my brain cells feel about this.  But if she had told me the way things were, I would’ve strung up my hammock in her backyard regardless and lived with her for the last month, cooking on the Coleman stove.  And she would not have had a moment’s rest from me.  It would’ve been like observing your own funeral — something that we all fantasize about, but when it comes down to the brass tacks none of us would wish to do in reality.  I would’ve been a walking spectral cenotaph, to her, with big stone hands that just knock things over that she’s trying to stack up:  because not everybody is empowered to help with all things.

Pardon me, if you would;  I am using this blog to work out some temporary personal issues.

I beg your indulgence.

…Because not everybody is empowered to help with all things, yeah.  Sometimes the rusty flowers of hope are just weeds, uglifying the nice green lawn.  Sometimes big clumsy stone hands intrude.  And people can be effortful.  This is when we, most of us, rely on family:  when we need people around us who can know how not to get in the way when we’re trying to think about shit.  And I’m not family, so I can’t be there…so she didn’t tell me.  Well, she kind of almost told me, and I’ll be happy to take that as my epitaph, when I go…

But in the end, I am a lousy person to be around when you are trying to tidy up your affairs.  Because I tend to loom. Oh, very positively!

But it’s still looming.

You know, she’s one of the friends I made myself, all on my own, with no introductions or friends-in-common.  She just fell on me — or I fell on her — right out of the blue.

And, there aren’t that many of those people left, anymore!

But it has to be said, by somebody:  she might yet overrun all the predictions that have been made about her.  The particle horizon has still not swallowed her.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Nobody knows what’s going to happen.

However of course the flip-side of that coin is that:  nobody knows what’s going to happen.  And maybe I just cling to the bosonic odds, here, instead of the baryonic ones, because I know that sometimes experience doesn’t allow for closure.  For example, there is no perfect end-of-life conversation I can have with her.  I don’t think I can even have an end-of-life conversation with her at all.  You know that thing you have, with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, or your husband or your wife, or your parent or your child?  When you lie close to them, and their face becomes a balloon that inflates to fill the universe?  And every one of their expressions is like a punch in the jaw, to you:  pure reality.  They’re everywhere.  They’re inside you.  You’re the Earth, and they’re the Moon, and between you is the Sun.

Everytime I ever saw her, she was just like that.  She was like that from the very beginning.  A gravitational centre lay between us.

Man, I tellya:  I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

Keep watching the skies, I guess.  You know all of a sudden, and with very little warning, and rather unexpectedly…I find I want to believe.

I want to believe.

So…help thou my unbelief, somebody or other.

Because this will be a rough one.

Damn.  It’s shitty.

I don’t want to do it.


Okay, thank you for listening, if you listened.  And, thank you for not listening, if you didn’t.

And now pardon me whilst I fall into the river of booze.


13 responses to “The Crush Of Space And Time

  1. If your friend really is willing to try *anything*, get a copy of my uncle’s book The Cancer Breakthrough – . The regime he details there *does* actually work…
    (This is not an attempt to sell my uncle’s book, but is honestly meant as an attempt to help. I’ve co-authored quite a few papers with my uncle on this stuff, and I’ve crunched a lot of numbers and read a lot of papers in that time. Get the book for her, give it a go, see what happens. I’m not promising a miracle, but I think it’s worth a shot)

  2. Andrew, thank you very sincerely. It’s entirely possible my friend may have read your uncle’s book, actually! But her ability to follow a dietary regime was kind of blown to hell a few months ago, by various events I won’t expand on too much — surgeries, infections, etc. Mess o’ shit.

    Ah. It’s very kind of you, though. But basically it’s looking like unless the Doctor shows up, we’re screwed.

    …Bleeachh, don’t wanna face it.

    Thank you very much, though. If I can get her to try something, I will.

  3. Oh. THAT.

    I am luckier than you.

    But if she had told me

    I had the experience of putting my mother on the toilet. This chair with a hole in it and a potty under it which Palliative Care had provided, along with the morphine and the denial-free unflinching companionship. Where they get the Sterling steel balls to deal with it, I do not know. Those women.

    Anyway, this was about three weeks after we’d shown up – we sons and a daughter. After Mum had spoken to me, in the airport parking lot as I got off, about the esophagal cancer.

    I was luckier, because between the five of us we somehow got the word out, and because she was living in Canberra, where her political generation, her comrades in the struggle, were still hanging around, or still at their posts, and could get the word out still further. And because she’d had the five of us, and we could roster ourselves on, never fewer than two in the house at a time; from Sydney, from Perth, from Melbourne, across the continent.

    We had visitors. A generation came visiting. As was her personal due, because her capacity for personal connection was apparently unlimited, and integral with her political purposefulness. From each according to her ability, to each according to her need.

    It’s kind of a blur. Just to be glad that she was resting; to be glad that Sis had mobilized the effort to fill out the cards replying to all the mailed condolences; to be able to cook the ever milder and more liquefied meals which were all she could get down; to make her shower clean. And the potty, just once, because it was usually those P.C. angel stalwarts who managed it all.

    We could both have just steeled ourselves to the embarrassment. She didn’t have to tell me I was the only person she could trust with it. And I thought, is this what you have your first son for?

    What the hell. You’d sacrifice bits of yourself to be with her than anywhere else. I was luckier, I could be there.

    It goes without saying, if you want someone to pick up the remnants afterward, you’ve got my email.

  4. Thanks, fellows.

    It’s not very likely, but this post may disappear into a black hole if I decide deleting it or masking it happens to be therapeutic for me. However, your comments are all saved regardless, and they’re very much appreciated.

    I do think I’ll leave it up, though. But maybe I’ll just post something more lighthearted pretty much as soon as possible? Yes, think I will.

    Onward and upward.

  5. I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. I’ve seen a few friends and relatives die of various cancers, but I don’t think I’ve lost anyone to it who’s been as close as your friend sounds. That’s really harsh, especially if she’s such a wonderful person to put up with you as a friend! ;)

    My best wishes to you and her.

  6. Keep hoping. Keep believing. Fuck it, the worst thing that happens is you’re wrong. And if belief is too hard, try not believing. Do what you need, regardless of how correct you are.

    Oh yeah, we human beings are hardwired for guilt (especially those of us who grew up Catholic), but we can move past it after an appropriate amount of wallowing. I’ve experienced my own tragedies, and still feel guilty even though I know I was not responsible, but I can’t let it drag me down too much.

    My thoughts and hopes are with you and your friend.

  7. Geez, that’s awful. :-( I hate to sound like I’m just echoing everyone else, but, darn it, it IS true — keeping a positive mindset in the face of tragedy and guilt is absolutely one of the best things you can do.

    Best of wishes to you and yours!

  8. Dear brother pillock, i don’t know how to help moi thine unbelief, except to say pray and pray.
    The more you pray, and the more open and sincere you are in your yearn for God, the more response will come.
    I don’t mean a sudden miracle for your friend, I mean renewed strength for you, greater hope and acceptance, growing wisdom and maturity (although I can tell from your writing you’ve already achieved lots of both), and deeper faith.

    Sorry if preaching is offensive, but if i’m asked i gotta answer.
    My very best wishes to you and your friend.

    And do please be careful with that river of booze.

  9. Oh, that’s all right, Southwest, I only used it to baptise myself in!

    Uh, joking.

    Thanks for your kind sentiments. I don’t pray outside of foxholes, and I don’t recall ever having been accused of sincerity — but you are obviously sincere, and I do appreciate that.

    Also, you and I must be neighbours, no? Used to pick blackberries down on SW Marine…

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