Wednesday, April 15, 2020

It Is Mostly in The Knowing

I wrote the poem below in 2005 as I was anticipating my father's death. He had a rare blood disease which was diagnosed when he was 60+ years old. The illness was described as "something that could kill you in a month or one with which you could live well for twenty years before it killed you."

Either way, it would kill you but there is quite a difference between "imminent" vs "in the future." Fast forward twenty or so years and after having lived very well, the disease once again took hold and more or less set its date for my father's soon to be passing at 88 years old.

There are so many things which can occur in this life we most often take for granted and in a moment they can turn your life around. We expect and live as though the details of our lives are "permanent" when in effect they are "impermanent," always changing. 

The change could be a car accident that would change your life forever or an illness that could end your life after months of suffering or in a few days or weeks with little or no notice. The change could be about you or about someone you love.

As I was pondering my father's impending death years ago, every time the phone rang, I realized that without the knowledge of an event that already happened, your life stays the same as does your level of happiness and fortitude in life.

Then a call comes in, information is shared, and with the knowledge imparted you cry, are sad, freak out, get depressed, or feel (or know) that your life is basically over (or the one of someone you love.) Also, the "knowing" could be good news!

I got to thinking about all of the situations in which the "not knowing" could be going on and then "knowing" arrives and changes everything. I reflected on the idea that some things in life change and you will never know about the change and therefore never have a negative (or positive) reaction to the change.

Just for example in a long shot, your favorite university professor which whom you have lost touch since you graduated many years ago has died. You have no way of knowing that he died so you do not grieve his death. In this situation and the end of the story: no knowledge, no reaction!

In thinking about the period of time between the "knowings vs not knowings" of my life I came up with waiting to hear about these good things: receiving a grant from the Chicago Council of Fine Arts for my Maybe the Clown performances, receiving a fellowship (two years in a row) from the State of Illinois in the area of Gifted Education, acceptance to a juried application for a residency in the area of creative non-fiction at the Ragdale Foundation, acceptance of Michael's Museum by Chicago Children's Museum.

On the difficult side: news of my mom's passing in 2010, my diagnosis of Lymphoma in 2003, my life partner Gregory's diagnosis of Dementia most likely Alzheimer's Disease in 2005, the news of Gregory's death in 2015, and others.

Recently I had several tests for some gastrointestinal problems I had been having. All tests returned no cancer and therefore I was relieved. Working on other possibilities of gluten and/or lactose intolerance I have been working on the problems with success.

Currently, with a lymph node in my neck swollen for approximately 6 weeks and no sight of its getting smaller (or larger for that matter,) I am keeping optimistic and positive knowing that "what is, is" and what is, is already going on. The only difference is that I am unaware of what the "it" is!

I received an e-mail announcing that my health organization has the results of the new tests so I logged into the site only to find that it is under maintenance until tomorrow at 2:00 AM. So again, the knowledge is there but unknown to me so I can be scared and depressed or happy and relieved, the decision for now of how to be is up to me. The power is there but the knowledge isn't. At least until 2:00 AM tomorrow morning! 

I was able to sign in sooner so bravely did so. Wishing, praying, hoping no longer were viable. The results were in and totally out of my control except how I might behave if the news was CANCER! And I am not sure that I would be able to control my behavior since the last time I had to deal with cancer was in 2003 when I had a Lymphoma and literally lost a year to Chemotherapy. At least then I had Gregory to be with me and to support me. Let me say I made it through but it was HELL and I do not know if I could do it again, especially without Gregory here to help.

And the news is: 

CASE: SHP-20-00210

Nature of Specimen: Neck Soft Tissue, Left, Ultrasound-guided Fine Needle Biopsy

Gross Description: Prepared 1 slide(s) fixed in alcohol, 2 air-dried slide(s) and a needle rinse. A core biopsy was collected and submitted for histologic processing. A cell block was prepared and submitted to surgical pathology for processing.

Clinical History: Solid left neck soft tissue mass (2 cm). Left supraclavicular enlarged lymph node. History of parotid lymphoma.

Total Number of Slides: 3 + core biopsy + cell block

No malignant cells identified. No cancer! Looks like a benign lipoma - we will have you come back to the office after Covid 19 to follow up for minor removal process!

• • • • •

FEAR 2010

There is a fear
That lurks just behind
The awareness of your thinking

The next moment
Will not be like this moment
Or the one before

And with a comment
Or the ring of a phone
All will change


  1. And even without a comment
    Or no one calling you
    All will change

  2. But without awareness of the change will you know it changed? If a tree falls ...


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