I know, it’s been quite some time. Again. And to the extent that I believe in resolutions, I yet again resolve to keep this blog active. The truth is, I think about it daily, but life gets in the way sometimes. So here’s a quick update about life, and a deeply sincere hope that I will find the time to hang out here more often!
I have a sort of “bucket list.” I don’t really maintain it, I couldn’t even tell you what’s on it, but there are things that I want to do before I die. So I made the stars align and planned a six-week trip to Italy. Yes, Italy. Yes, six weeks. And each day I lived the dream. I rented an apartment in Verona – a city historic enough to interest me and small enough to let me write. My goal was to make serious progress on a manuscript that has been hanging over me for years. (Mission accomplished. It’s no where near done, but progress was made!) Verona was the perfect city. The historic district is small enough to be easily walked, the sites were magnificent, and when it was time to write I didn’t feel distracted by the multitude of tourist options.
I got to “live” there for a bit. The baristas at caffe knew my morning coffee drink when I walked in the door, and the four men who shared half a dozen papers each morning acknowledged me despite the language barrier. They even squished together to vacate a table for me on crowded days. I had favorite restaurants for aperitivo and dinner and pizza. I had a hostess who never failed to check on me and invite me to local events no tourist would ever know about. I did a little touring, but for the most part, I was inspired to write.
And then there are the promises I’ve made, including one, offered many years ago, that I would take our son Zach to Venice before the city sank.
It was a promise made after the I “survived cancer” trip John & I took to Italy about a year after my early stage treatment was complete. I felt like a SURVIVOR. I allowed myself to believe that the city just might sink soon enough to leave my promise unfulfilled.
But since I’ve been diagnosed with mets that promise has been out there, and our trip was both the stuff of dreams and a weight off. The three of us spent my last two weeks together – Venice, Verona and Rome. It was the most beautiful two weeks I can remember. And now I can’t wait to do it again! Perhaps Madrid, or Paris, or London. The best part was knowing how precious an opportunity it was. Every step was a joy, every painting a marvel, every building a wonder.
Yiddish has a word – bashert – which I guess means destiny, usually reserved for your intended life partner, but I also think it works for those serendipitous opportunities that present themselves to us. I think it was bashert that we arrived in Venice on November 21 – the day of the annual Festa della Madonna della Salute. In 1630 this day was declared the end of the Black Plague in Venice, and the church across the Grand Canal from the Doge’s Palace was built in honor of the city’s survival. To ease access, there is a pontoon bridge built over the canal to the church. It just so happens that the bridge was exactly at the front door to our hotel. So while the guys recovered from jet lag, I bought a candle and joined the procession. The church was packed and the smoke didn’t have enough room inside, so it greeted me in the plaza before I even entered. I waited, patiently at first, and as an Italian in the end (which is to say I pushed my way to the front), where my candle was lit and added to the many others – candles and prayers for health – that filled the room. Two altars were home to ritual, two others to the fire department.
I suppose one could argue it was all for naught. But it wasn’t about outcomes, it was about experience. I came home to another round of scans. More likely than not, the scan shows progression to my omentum, a body part I had never even heard of, but typical of the progression of lobular. On the chance my cancer has moved, I’m starting to investigate my options. Again. So the roller coaster sweeps me away again. It is part and parcel with life as a metastatic patient.