Everything and Nothing

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS from Pexels

[Preface: I have amazing support from my family, Paige, my church, friends, doctors & other health professionals. I am lucky. But it’s still a struggle.]

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

Hugh Laurie

For me, the revelation came after a sequence of words. Like a certain combination and cadence unlocked a door. “You’re not feeling yourself today, are you?” That was what my nurse asked at my latest cancer center check-in. Before the question was even done I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and then hot streaks down my cheeks. “No,” I answered weakly.

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The DMV and David

An image from Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America, not a picture of David.

On Monday I had to go to the DMV to register a vehicle. I had planned for it to take the entire morning. Most depictions of the DMV regard it as a sort of place of misery and torture- it’s comically referred to as hell and the workers there are often cast as uncaring, cold, and lovers or bureaucracy.

But for me, the second I walked into the office door, it was completely different. Yes, there was a long line, but I like lines and I am carefully not to take out my phone during lines (I’m a believer in the right to be bored). The line twists around in a strange way that it required some pacing around to find the end. Once there, I saw other people come in and do the same thing. The line snakes in front of the entryway so people in line had to move for the door to open. As opposed to being annoyed or giving off frustrated sighs, people gladly moved and helped others find the end of the line. When I looked around I saw every sort of person in the City, every color, well-off and not-so-well-off, lots of different nationalities. People were being friendly in line and making each other laugh. 

I think the last time I was in a public place for government business was to vote. The lines and demeanor there was completely different. Everyone tight-lipped. Anxious sighs and glaces at watches. People guarding their space carefully and making sure no one cut the line. 

The DMV was a welcome change. A lady in line in front of me helped a younger gentleman with all of the paperwork he’d need to complete his task. He realized he was missing some items and left the office. The lady called out from the door, “And you’ll have five days to change your insurance!” She’d either just been through the same thing or was an expert in DMV procedure. 
I got to the line and told them why I was there, showed them I had the paperwork, and got a ticket. I took a seat and waited. I was called up and the nice lady at the counter helped me out and asked if I was ready for Valentine’s Day. This is how cancer survivorship can just come up in conversation. I told her I wasn’t sure, we’d been talking about just agreeing to not doing anything given our state at the moment, and it’s been rough going for a bit. She genuinely looked concerned and asked why, and I mentioned survivorship. She was sympathetic for me, but still urged me to do something for my wife like cook a meal or get her something small. She had this conversation with me while working on all my paperwork. She finished and wished me well, as I did to her, and I was on my way. I actually really like the DMV.

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