Trying to understand the nature of despair…

I received another three teddy bears by mail late yesterday. First was a bear from our dear friend Elaine in Ontario wearing the colours and t-shirt of the college that she works for. Second was from my mother-in-law and one of the sisters-in-law; its a British Open 2008 bear, complete with a tiny sweater with the logos knit right into it! What a fabulous bear! We intend to go to the Open this July, and the bear is just one more reminder. Bear number three comes to us from Scott and Cheryl in Vancouver, and it is a darling! Around its neck is a group of photos with a cover page titled “Bruce’s Dragonsmoke Bear”. The photos are of ‘Dragonsmoke‘, a 51’ sailboat lying in Nanaimo that I’ve been coveting. It was berthed at Granville Island, and the last time we were there we couldn’t find anyone at the brokers who would let us on/in her to have a closer look. But the ever resourceful Scott and Cheryl tracked down the owner (after they couldn’t find it in Granville) and got him to take some additional photos for them to include with the bear. And apparently the price has dropped again…

Which brings me to the ‘despair’ part of this post.

I realize that we must make some pretty significant decisions in the months to come. For instance, do we go after the boat or do we take advantage of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the States and buy real estate in Phoenix ( boat valued at 150,000 vs. a three bedroom bungalow valued at 150,000). Does it make more sense to have the boat on our coast and aim to move there, or plan to stay here and do the snowbird thing back and forth to the desert? And do we have the money for either option? Who will lend the money to us? Does my cancer impact our credit rating? Will we be able to sustain benefits packages now that I’ve got cancer? What happens when we go to renew the current mortgage, which comes up for renewal in July of 2008?

It strikes me that at 52, I am not in the best position to get the most desirable outcomes to all of these questions without some substantive effort… if I’m willing to work at it. Gail and I need some ‘resolution’ to our retirement questions. So, its time for some real research and a new plan.

But it occurs to me that all of this could be overwhelming for some people, if they were in our position. The sheer weight of the decisions that are now predicated on that miserable word, ‘cancer’, and how that could affect everything that they have put together for their futures, just like us. Despair touched me briefly this morning. I may not ever get a boat. We may never be able to arrange for the hot spot retirement location. My benefits may get cancelled in the future and I may never be able to insure a loan again. Ya, well, too fucking bad. I’m still gonna try for it all and I have every confidence that we will get something close to what we dream about… and yes, it will probably require a lot of hard work, and innovative thinking to pull a lot of it off, but goddammit, I intend to try!

My momentary brush with despair this morning does put what other folks go through in perspective. And I suddenly understand why some people simply lie down to die after the diagnosis is presented at a certain age. I’m looking at another 40 years to go, minimum. The plan for the next 40 years is not properly laid down yet; it was supposed to be finalized in the next year, according to our ‘life plan’. Each step in the next 40 could be coloured with uncertainty by that fucking word, ‘cancer’. It is, potentially, going to be a hard, uphill fight. How much easier it would be to not engage, to not start the fight, to simply go through the motions of the cancer treatments, to let the cancer make the decisions, to start sleepwalking through what remains of the life that the cancer has attacked.

Damn! I get it. I understand why some people die from cancer. But that is definitely NOT me… I am not finished yet.

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