It’s almost Yom Kippur. The holiday starts tonight and ends tomorrow night, and in between we are expected to undertake a spiritual journey unaided by food (or, more worryingly, caffeine). Many people wish each other an “easy fast,” because it seems like the kind thing to do. Perhaps it is because I am a difficult person by nature, but the notion of it being easy chafes me, it seems to run counter to the entire purpose of fasting. I am hoping to have a meaningful fast… if I choose to even fast. My medical condition technically excludes me from the necessity of fasting, but I have to take my meds tomorrow. I have to fast for three hours to take the morning ones anyway. So perhaps I just keep it going.
I’ve started in medias res, as I often do. The fact is, I haven’t checked in here since our big move, so here is what you need to know in three pictures.
I met my new oncologist, Dr L, last week. In order to do this, I had to drive to Baltimore and see him in a new outpatient building that adjoins the hospital. The hospital being the same one where my father acquired a hospital infection and died just over seven months ago. I had to park in the same garage. It was triggering, to say the least, and I did cry when Dr L was getting my medical history and asked about my father. The new cancer center issues trackers to patients so their location in the building is always known. This is meant to eliminate the need to call people’s names loudly in waiting areas. I found the waiting area deserted, the tracker creepy, and just generally ached to be back at NYU among familiar people — Nelson, NPs Kathy and Rajni, Dr P…
Dr L and NP Megan were wonderful, and the pharmacist has been great at following up to make sure my prescriptions are transferred smoothly. I cannot fault them for not being my former caregivers. But I also came to a realization after that difficult visit to Johns Hopkins: I don’t actually need the new team to mean the same thing to me as the old team. Dr P and her team had to save my life. Twice. I went through some of the darkest experiences of my life while in their care, and they brought me to the place I am now, namely: in long-term remission, taking my meds on a modified dosage schedule, having scans less frequently than before. For Dr L to take on the role that Dr P did, then, would mean that my life would need saving once again– and I don’t want to be in that place, ever.
The other day Facebook reminded me it has been four years since my lung collapsed after a biopsy. Time accelerates and collapses in on itself and is an unreliable narrator. I still feel the dread and strangeness of those days four years ago on my skin. That was the year I decided Yom Kippur was optional, and opted out in favor of a day of reading, contemplation, and conceiving this blog, which will celebrate its fourth birthday (?!) in November.
I haven’t come to any useful conclusions about God in those four years, ever since I decided to be on hiatus from God and adjust my participation in any religious observance to be devoid of spirituality and register purely on the level of public singing. Do I still feel this way? I don’t know. I suppose I’m less angry now in terms of my personal circumstances, and more angry in terms of global circumstances. I acknowledge that something saved my bacon, but I am still not sure that something was God. I am grateful for Science, but I guess a faithful person who isn’t opposed to the notion of Science might easily turn that around and say, “AND WHO MAKES SCIENCE POSSIBLE?”
I’m going to wrap this up for now. There is a lot more to say, and I’m hoping that I’ll be less silent this year. For the moment, I’ll leave you with one more photo so you can situate where these half-baked thoughts are coming to you from…