Friday, July 4, 2014

Liberty and Death in a Box

It's 4th of July and I am grateful to live in a country full of freedom... I am always excited about the idea that men once realized that if there was anything the creator endowed us with it was the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But somewhere in the idea of taxation, representation, and what to do with tea at a party, they realized that most anything worth living with is worth dying for... I am not sure that those thoughts are coming from the most patriotic of places within me even as Kiana and I are going to DC next weekend... which is a relief because the day after I get back I go to medical tests.

So some of that stress is going on in my head is from future things but some of it is past things. Part of it is that this week there was an issue with medication and insurance, insurance and insurance, and perhaps most of all the fact that an MRI is just slightly over a week away. I am psychologically calm while I'm in that machine... I've even fallen asleep in it as opposed to some people I've met along the journey who need sedations just to get through the tests. But somehow, somehow that machine is still the place where I feel by far the loneliest and where I most appreciate friends and family. Then I see the neuro oncologist the next day where we'll talk about that and perhaps another shift for the anti seizure medication. It's an odd coin flip where if anything's gone wrong we may start on new anti cancer medication and if everything goes the right way we go from MRI's every six months to every nine months. How was it determined that these were the right time intervals?

It's around this time that I start remembering and looking at a box. There is a box that's sat in my closet for a long time, years. It's the Grand Canyon Box. As I've long said here, in a symposium and once in print, if and when certain circumstances line up and beating this is a very unrealistic idea, then it's time to pack up go the Grand Canyon and climb in and out till it's time to go since I'm not really the die sitting around in a bed type. And the reality is that shoe box, it's just a shoe box which isn't even halfway full, it only has a few items. It's the only thing that I'm committed to taking with me if/and when the time comes. The idea actually came from somoene proposing exercise of if you house was burning down and you could only grab a few things what would you take (most people would take electronic equipment containing pictures). That exercise of course presumes that these are items you want to keep as you move on beyond a building. My exercise is more of what thoughts do you want to have when you're facing life's final days. It's incredibly hard for anything to get into the box, even so a couple of things have come out, one of them to give away to someone. I am not going to get into too much detail about what's in it because even I want some sense of the personal. But like I said, when MRI's roll around, I start thinking about if I have all the right things in there. Without exception, they are all things that are supposed to make me smile from things from people and races. They range from high school till a few weeks ago. I don't suggest everyone make one of these but it's probably a good exercise to ponder what you'd put in it. I hope it's useless for years, decades and that when I finally hit 84, I think of it is a silly exercise in worry but it is somehow both comforting to know that what those items represent in my life existed and scary to think about that it may be in the Grand Canyon someday.

But even so, I am still trying to figure out what to do with my next few steps in life. I've finally become open as I said here that if all went well in April that it may be time to let an official leading lady into life part II instead of just George Clooney girls. Perhaps, I should have left those types of thoughts sequester until July but the girl whose number I asked for, let's just say I'm falling fast for her. And sometimes falling feels like flying, if just for a little while. And it was actually before I met her that it occurred to me that if it really does get any level of serious with anyone that it would be less than fair to expect the Grand Canyon to be an over ruling principle when asking someone to share companionship. And the idea of going that way is because of having watched someone close die from their brain being decayed and them not even remembering who they were much less who anyone around them was (it was also that end of life medical treatment is... less than a cheap deal). And while it originally occurred to me that if I ever get very serious with someone veto power over the Grand Canyon... it didn't take long to realize that if it gets to an intense commitment, as long as they are there, and as long as I have the capacity to make that decision, I'd almost certainly be trying to get another "The Notebook" type moment with them. Anyway, we're not at that level but in order to at least be open to the idea, for the first time in this journey, I changed the time of my medical appointment for someone to be more likely to be able to come, not less likely to do so.

But even so... well as I sit and worry about a medical appointment 10 days away, I am about to head out to a party for 4th of July, catch some fireworks, run some long runs this week, spartan train. Because I think the way I've been able to make peace with the fact that death and a box will come is by embracing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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