Be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being. Today is. Tomorrow was. I’ve always had a great respect for words. I taught my students that if they could control their writing; they could control their world. The ability to write meant they could frame their world the way they wanted when they wrote about it. I do believe that idea, just not so much today. Today, I would write differently.
Today I check what is the world I can’t control. Bronte’s cancer will not get better. It will deteriorate. Eventually, she will not look herself at all. She can no longer eat from her bowl. It bothers her too much. I imagine it’s that she can’t get her mouth opened far enough to lick the edges. She eats off a plate. She sleeps most of her day. While sleeping or lying down, she’s come to drooling. Her drools grow bloody. She has started coughing, not a dry cough, but one with something in it. Her breathing today sounds like how we would sound with a really bad cold, only it’s not a cold. All of this check list can only mean more pain and more meds.
Growing up, I learned an emotional survival tool. As a child, whenever I was in an overwhelming emotional situation that I couldn’t get out of, I would simply let my inside leave and float up to a corner of the ceiling in the room. I would watch whatever bad or sad thing was going on, but I would be safe. I no longer was a participant; I was a spectator and could not be hurt emotionally. As an adult, I have continued to keep this tool in my back pocket. Up in the corner of the ceiling, I could see myself on the floor go through the motions. I was looking at a scenario being played out, like I was watching a movie. Up in the corner, what I was watching was not real; it was pretend and could not hurt me. And on the floor, what part of me was left in the situation had little or no feeling left. On the floor, I simply endured and persevered telling myself it had to end sometime. Telling myself, it will be over soon. I will deal with it afterward alone.
Bronte awoke and asked to go out at 5:30 this morning. While she was out, I prepared her latest meal of choice: scrambled eggs and doggie hash (her canned dog food). It’s strange, but the meal actually smells pretty good while cooking. I thought, “the last breakfast.” The tears started to come. I finished cooking and plated the meal. I cut up her “peells,” as we call them in our house. I put the plate aside, up high (away from Erik and Harley), so it can cool. I fixed Erik and Harley’s breakfast. Then I went to wait by the kitchen door. I watched and waited. I lost controlled and just cried. I cried enough that my shoulders shook. When I saw Bronte come around the corner from the shed, I stopped. “I can’t do this all day,” I thought. “She deserves a good day.” It’s raining outside; it doesn’t need to rain inside.
I take the deep breath, wipe my eyes, and decide the day will be spent up in the ceiling. I cannot control the cancer. I cannot control time and slow it down. I can give Bronte dignity. I can give myself good memories. I can lie here on the couch with Bronte sleeping next to me and write our day. I cannot write the day I want. Tomorrow I will slip back down from the ceiling and write, “the day was.” Today I can only write “the day is.”