Halloween, the time of year for jack o’lanterns, tricks and treats and the portrayal of frightening creatures. It is said that jack o’laterns on All Hallows Eve is set to represent a soul that has been denied entry into both heaven and hell. Last night at a Halloween bash, I questioned my current standing as to whether or not I was trapped between heaven and hell. For some this confession may come as a shock, based on simple religious beliefs or the triumphant ring of ra-ra that surrounds cancer and cancer patients. But, for me, last night was far from celebration of remembering the dead, whilst parading around in face paint and costume, for me it was a trap between “I want to be normal” and “How has this become my reality?”
For the most part I have taken cancer with a sense of stride and procurement. I have viewed it, in its entirety as a gift of clarity and realization of what is important in life, how to live, love and see things for what they are. The past week has been particularly difficult for me, with up’s and down’s measured in goliath forms. One day being on the upside and the next day questioning survival and my new(ish) reality all together.
When Saturday evening rolled around, despite my marathon of a week, I wanted to attend the spectacular Halloween party with all of my friends, enjoy dressing up as something, someone else for a night and partake in the creativity behind costume’s galore. During the day I was feeling unusually weak, but given the few days that proceeded before it, I didn’t give it too much thought and figured I would be fine to go on about the party and enjoy the evening of guising. It was unclear at the time, but I was ultimately tricking myself into thinking I was able treat myself to a night out and the events that took place atop the roof of a Downtown Phoenix hotel would prevail me.
As we arrived to the social, we were met by all of our closest friends; ready to celebrate another Halloween and conjoin in having a night to remember. Attempting to be as “normal” as possible, I ordered a drink and mingled about. The tricking to my treating was paying off, I was having fun and nearly forgot how ill I had been feeling just an hour prior. Suddenly, less than an hour into the party, I found myself being unusually distant from the crowd and in desperate need of my bed. Finding my way to Steve across the rooftop, I alarmingly let him know I wasn’t feeling well and that we needed to make an exit immediately, even without time to say goodbye to our friends. In typical Steve form, he swooped me up and before I knew it, he hit the elevator button, arranging our quick exit to head home.
All I remember after that is coming to on the ground, right outside of the elevator. There was an intimate circle around me; all faces that appeared familiar, despite their Halloween disguises. I could hear my name being said repeatedly by Steve and my head being tilted to the side as I began to get sick all over myself. In and out of consciousness, I recall pondering if I was situated between heaven and hell. What kind of reality was I living in, that I collapse, blackout, convulse and spew in the company of the public? My treat of a night out turned to be anything but, and my continual tricking into thinking I can be perfectly normal began to become perfectly obvious.
After what seemed like a lifetime, I awoke from my folding and was propped up in the elevator and we hurriedly exited the building. Thankfully those who surrounded me during my plunge were all wonderful friends, whom by all regards know and care what I am going through and I was rest assured that no judgment was passed. However, once again I passed it on myself. Questioning the reason and the why’s behind my life and frustrated with the obstacles that stand before me. I was wavering from the ideal that cancer was a gift of clarity and more like a destination between heaven and hell.
When I awoke today, my face was clear of any disguise and the reality of my life set in once again. The reality being that life is not fair sometimes, but things happen and without question we have to trust that there is a plan in motion, one that regardless of how difficult it is to march forward, we must not give up on. This week has been a hell of a week and next week just might be a slice of heaven. If I give up, I will never know what the future has in store for me. It’s time I stop tricking myself into thinking that I am fully okay. I need to respect my body, trust what it’s telling me and treat it a bit better; even if that means missing out on jack o’lanterns and the parading of costumes.