Two days before the start of chemotherapy, a very fancy doctor with cold eyes informed us that the pathologists no longer agreed. He said there were some who now questioned that Jessica age 38 Mother to four young children and my precious daughter had lymphoma. He said more time and tests were needed.
Four weeks later, this Wednesday, a different doctor, this one engaged and kind pronounced that a misdiagnosis had been made. He said an inflammation had been mistaken for lymphoma. He told Jessica to step back into her life and live it as she had before.
Lucky. It was not an easy seven weeks at all but luck won out.
In seven weeks I learned (again) without a sliver of doubt that I would give my life for Jessica. I would on the spot die. (I like myself even more because of this.) I also learned that Cancer and even Fancer (Jess' term for 'fake cancer') shakes up the snow globe of a life in ways that if you're lucky enough you end up appreciating more not less.
Which brings me to this poem I wrote for Jessica some years back. Slightly edited, but still the same….
(Thank you so much for your support and prayers. It's meant a lot.)
Take both eyes, both hands,
My legs and arms,
Even take the precious German clock
And every special book.
Take my bank account,
All twenty photo albums,
My garden in August
And the miraculous April rain.
Take it all if you can promise.
I knew in the instant this would be so.
I’m in to any burning house,
On to a frigid raft at sea,
I’m ripping the mangled steel with my bare hands.
Anything, anything for this girl.
The edgeless corners of the truest love
And the endless reserve of cavernous protection
Surround this child who lives within and without,
This fantabulous kid with the crack up wit
And the tender expansive heart.
Take it all, whether you are a son-of-a-bitch
Or an evolving angel,
Whether the cost is temporary or forever,
Take it all, and then shelter this child
Through every molecular motion and moment.
She sits at a prestigious desk;
Makes decisions, honors words;
Seeks out bargains and eats salads;
And on Sundays shebrings Sprite to her grandmother.
She is an anchor in an unsteady world.
She is hybrid fuel to those who love her.
She is a reason to push
And the forever foremost answer
To everything that could ever matter
Given the chance to love like this,
The price of my sightless limbless body
And wiped clean barren possessions
Amounts to nothing more than shiny pennies and
And effortless will.
This kind of devotion can't be bought.
It has no price.