I dreamt I was an old lady. I walked with a cane and wore ugly orthopedic sandals over thick rag socks. I puttered about in the tiny cozy kitchen in my tiny cozy house as an even older Rocco handed me a beautifully painted casserole dish. I dusted it with flour while Rocco carried a cheese plate out to our guests.
We were making Christmas dinner.
I felt safe, content, strong and healthy. It was an absolutely beautiful dream. Sadly present day Rocco’s early morning port wine cheese induced reverberations ended the dream prematurely, but it was still quite lovely. I spent the morning wrapped in the warm memory of that dream (once the also warm funk dissipated), despite the ever hardening piles of dingy snow covering the ground.
I haven’t thought about getting old in quite some time. Hell, I haven’t really thought much about anything long term the past 18 months. When I got sick, we just tried to take it minute by minute, not able to plan anything further out than the next test or appointment. After I was diagnosed, we planned day by day; working towards the day treatment could begin. Once we fell into the groove of chemo, we were able to plan in two week intervals – able to guess which days would be harder, which ones I’d be able to leave the house, reasonably sure my heart wouldn’t fail or lungs fill with fluid until the next round of toxic fun.
After completing the last round of chemo, we had an entire month before the next scan. We were overwhelmed by the luxury of time, even planning a trip home to Carolina for a friend’s wedding.
When I went into remission (FIST BUMP!!), we had three months between our visits with Aloysius – three whole months. I didn’t need babysitters. Rocco could take work. It was like we had lives and everything! I’d even started to wonder about abstract things like which wig I would wear the next time I saw Aloysius or would I have enough stubble to freehand my eyebrows rather than pack my stencils for a trip home. I could at least admit that there was the possibility (maybe even the probability) of life continuing past that three month mark.
But it still felt too risky to think about anything concrete past those three months, like we were tempting fate. Maybe I’m too superstitious. I yell “bread and butter” when a street post comes between me and my companion. I knock on wood when I crack a joke about not catching a cold. I throw salt over my shoulder when I knock over the shaker. Hell I do the same thing with any powdered substance just for good measure (that does NOT go over well in music industry, FYI). I had never heard of any old wives’ tales that prevent cancer recurrence, so I figured I’d just stick with the better-safe-than-sorry approach and avoid anything that threatened my continued remission.
So the past year was divided into four three-month chunks of plan-ability. Sitting with the family over Labor Day, we couldn’t discuss Thanksgiving or Christmas. It was too far away, too risky.
Just before I went in for my one year scan, I had lunch with a dear friend and former boss. She peppered me with questions about my chemo brain and my thoughts on returning to the work force. I hedged a little and she gave me a standing invitation to freelance for her adding, “I just don’t want you to end up at 50 with no retirement plan.” *Blink, blink* 50? Retirement? Lady, I’m just trying to keep it together for two more weeks until Aloysius tells me I’m still clean. Could I dare to plan for something decades away?
With a year in remission under my belt, my subconscious certainly seems to think so. In my dream, I was at least 70 if I was a day. Rocco was home, so hopefully well into retirement. We were still physically strong and of sound minds – well as sound as they’ve ever been I suppose.
I think I’ve already made my Christmas wish. Merry Happy Everything, Interwebz.