Tap Dancing Because It's Fun
Some thoughts on life and death
I had cancer. I'd been waiting for a mind-altering four weeks to find out. I believed it to be impossible and even chastised myself for being so terrified of it. Then there it was; cancer with all its details. And, somehow, there was relief.
For the three weeks before that, I had been writing letters to my children inside my head. In those letters I gave them all the advice they would ever need from now until they were, themselves, dying. I was writing up a will to divvy out the few things that I held dear. I hugged my brother and kissed my father. I considered how I would tell my mother how I really felt about her and how sorry I was for the things I said in my twenties and did in my teens. I planned for quitting my job and finding a way to travel to all the places I've always intended to. I would hobo or sell painting or poems to lovers walking on a beach boardwalk. I would tap dance, if I had to. I would see Fiji and I would take my children to Hawaii like I promised. And I would not spend my time droning away at the job that I do to help everyone but myself. I considered what my husband would do and how my children would hurt. I constructed more letters, this time of consolation to assure them that they could go on without me.
Somewhere between "you have" and "cervical cancer", I made a realization. Why should it take my fear of slowly leaving them all behind in order for me to speak to them about the things that matter? Why would I preserve the things I really dream of to the time when I am slowly leaving? My "will" was a tattered piece of notebook paper that handed out the precious things that had no value whatsoever except to those that loved me. I didn't even consider on that page that it would have to involve life insurance and liquid assets. My assets were the wooden shoes my grandfather obtained in WWII while he was stationed overseas that he handed to me as he was slowly dying. The necklace that I wore around my neck with my children's love tucked inside. The stack of crumpled papers in that bottom drawer that held what would now be a lifelong of feelings spurted out with a ball point pen. My favorite guitar, my infant teddy bear, my mother's china.
The details that I referred to before were that I, did, indeed have cancer. It was fully operable and I would require nothing more than a surgery. I was not dying and I would not die. After my surgery, I wrote letters to my children giving them all the advice I thought they'd need from now until they were dying. I hugged my brother and kissed my father. I told my mother how I really felt about her and how sorry I was for the things I said in my twenties and did in my teens. I started to make a plan for resigning from my job and instead, making money doing all the things I love like selling paintings and poems to lovers on a beach boardwalk. I tap danced because it was fun.