Thursday, 13 May 2010
From a different perspective . . . Today
Today is the last day of my life. I expected to be bitter, resentful, angry even, that my efforts have been overcome and I have been vanquished, but I am too exhausted to feel anything other than resignation and perhaps a sense of relief that I can relinquish the fight for existence.
I have recognised the advent of my death for some months now, though I have not cared to acknowledge it. I have never allowed myself to become despondent or to admit that the outcome was inescapable. I continued to make my plans, almost defiantly, as though to do so would guarantee my survival - but everyone knew the actuality of the situation. In sombre moments, in quiet corners, it was discussed, repetitively and in detail, as if the repetition made reality less certain, gentler, more familiar. In public, though, everyone retained an obstinate air of determined cheerfulness, planning . . . for a future they feared was too short. I feel no regrets, just a dull sense of inevitability. The pulse is slower, the breathing lighter, shallower. The morphine is working its ineffable magic, slowing, calming . . . deadening. I hear voices, but they are muffled and indistinct and soon I shall not hear them anymore. That will be a relief, for they have said things I would rather not have heard, comments that upset my equilibrium and allowed doubts to surface, though of course, they can have had no idea that I could hear them, still less understand them.
I have a short time left, then, to reflect on my life. It hasn't been disagreeable, though, naturally, I should have liked to survive long enough to see my descendants grow and prosper. I've had my trials and tribulations – a few spells in hospital, some rather unpleasant treatment, but I've always come through, even when everyone was convinced I was beaten. I've invariably returned to life, quietly at first, then with gathering strength . . . until now.
I haven't had a long life, by most standards, but, in my small vanity, I would like to think I've left my mark, made an impression on those who have known me. I think, in all modesty, that I will be remembered after my passing, albeit with sadness and incomprehension.
I was conceived twenty-eight years ago and remember little of my early existence, except that it was quiet, pleasant, unremarkable and spent in congenial surroundings. I was nurtured and protected against all possible ills, yet still I was quite young when I had my first notable encounter with the medical profession. After a less than routine visit to the doctor, there was a referral, fairly urgently, to a specialist – such dread is engendered by that title! - and thereafter to the Oncology Unit. My treatment was harsh and hard to bear – the chemotherapy made me very sick. I felt weak and almost defeated but I rallied, and little by little, my strength returned and with it a resurgence of energy and optimism. I had an inner confidence that I would survive and so I did, living quietly, reserving my strength, never losing hope.
Circumstances forced a move to a new location and within the decade I was receiving treatment once more. I underwent a serious and dangerous major operation, and those dear, close relatives prayed and wept and feared the worst, but I survived, recovered and planned for the next few years. Life seemed sweet, for I had gambled with death and won.
However, three years later, I was once more fighting for my very existence, subjected to surgery, a merciless barrage of chemotherapy and finally more radiotherapy. The treatment almost destroyed me but I confounded everyone. Once again, I proved too strong and demonstrated my determination to triumph over every coercion, all intimidation. I truly believed I was indomitable - and I won!
Against all the odds, I won, and yet, in winning, I discovered, too late, that I had lost everything! In the heat of battle I had forgotten that, without my host, I could not survive. My malign influence will die with the last breath of the woman I have destroyed and I will exist no more.
Today is the last day of my life.
(The idea of writing from another perspective is not new. People have written about 'the gun that shot the bullet' or 'the journey of the letter' – that last a favourite at one time with teachers! I wrote this piece a few years ago shortly after my sister died following a long relationship with cancer.)