I’m feeling that I’ve been out of touch. I’ve been working hard to get My Wobbly Bicycle: Cancer and the Creative Life ready for publication. Of course I’ve been thinking about how I posted faithfully every week back then, how I kept you up to date with my treatment, my anguishes, my life in general. Naturally that was for me as much as for you. We were/are in this together, this life with its ups and downs that have no end until they do. How interesting it is to go back over that year, to look at what I wrote, to ask myself if I’d write the same thing now! No, of course not. Three years have passed. I have some perspective. Yet what I wrote then seems utterly, completely, to-the-bone accurate.
What I said then, I’d say now. I guess that’s what I mean by accurate, although all I can vouch for is that it seemed I was telling the truth as I saw it. I didn’t know if I’d live or die. Of course I still don’t know, but it’s interesting to me to watch the shifts, gradual as they are. I feel once again that I “own” myself, that I’m not an object to be poked, sedated, mapped, irradiated. I think of old people—I mean much older than me!—and how often they gradually lose the sense of their own body, as it becomes frail and needs more and more external help to keep going. If we’ve had a strong sense of our ability to take care of things, that’s a hard pill to swallow. Even now, there’s a big rock the grandchildren put in the rowboat as ballast, and it’s too heavy for me to lift out, now that they’re gone. And the dock needs spray-washing and re-sealing. Just don’t have the energy for it, so we’re waiting until our handyman has time to get to it.
As I read back through My Wobbly Bicycle: Cancer and the Creative Life, I am once again intensely close to the me I felt like then, trying to figure how to go on doing my work when I don’t feel well, when I don’t even know if I have a future, when I feel a lot like an object. When a lot of the time I just want to cry. I realize again how much reading mattered to me, how much the printed page pulled me out of the narrows—not in the sense of escape, but in the sense of expansion.
And also, of course, I’m so deeply aware of the love and support that came to me in so many forms. I am still awed by that.
I’m giving the book to Traverse City’s Cowell Family Cancer Center’s Health and Wellness Suite. All proceeds from sales of the book will go directly there. It’s a quite remarkable area of the Cancer Center. If you have cancer, or if you’re family of someone who has cancer, or an employee of the Center, you can go there for all sorts of meditation classes, yoga, massage, acupuncture, book groups, and talks. There are even wandering musicians throughout the building. I almost choke up when I think of the distance we’ve traveled in understanding that body and mind aren’t separate. I do choke up when I imagine the help this will be for cancer patients. I’m hoping my book will also be some help.
We’re planning a launch party at the Cowell Family Cancer Center on Oct. 27. If you’re local, please put that date on your calendar. Everyone is invited. I’ll talk a bit, read a little from the book and we’ll have freshly minted copies there for sale. I’ll post more about this later—time, directions, etc.
Back to work. We’re still trying to figure which photos will work in the book. Wish I’d taken more and better ones back then. Then I have to figure where they’ll go. Then the dreaded proofreading. You’d think as much editing as I’ve done, I could handle that with ease. But I’m really not good at it. A ruler along the lines helps, plus, I’m hoping, the help of my beloved editor-husband. Please.