Wednesday, April 19, 2006

4.19.06, Introduction: Do Not Go Gentle

Imagine you're moving through your life, beginning your career, enjoying some success and good health, and like anyone else you're making plans. You're 38--in many senses it's the prime of your life. In any event, you're young still. You liked reading and writing so you went to graduate school, you traveled a bit, in 2003 you started teaching poetry in a university in Seattle. You get halfway through your second year, gearing up to finish that "first book," when your doctor calls to follow up on some tests about stomach pains you've had: "You've got cancer of the pancreas."

Upon first hearing, frankly, it doesn't hit you as hard as it might because what the hell do you know about it. But after about two more weeks of research, reading, appointments, surgical consults, and more tests, your understanding increases, and what's heavier still, your diagnosis gets worse. It's terminal, by all odds you have less than a year to live. "Terminal" ... "38"... "pancreatic cancer"...?

That's the story my most recent month. Now what about career, enjoying daily life, relationships, plans? I have very few answers at this point, lots of questions though. Faced with death every day now, should I say death on the installment plan as one French author has it?, I realize all questions of death are simultaneously questions of life--of life till then, of those who will survive you. I don't go in for metaphysics or grand mythologies so "life after death," for me, exists only in the anticipation of some, the memories of some others. What I'm trying to do here is simple, just tell some of this crazed story as it unfolds. I hope it helps family, friends, maybe someone else who finds herself or himself in the same spot--but caveat lector, because I will to do all I can to be direct and honest. This may not be for everyone. Any offense given is unintentional.

It deserves much more attention, will get it later, but the line from Dylan Thomas's poem keeps coming back to me, as a mixture of sadness, pain, shock, grief, befuddlement, and sometimes anger: "Do not go gentle into that good night."


lefty said...

mr. jones i assume...blogging is good.i hope it will be a satisfying outlet. i know i will enjoy it and read it faithfully every day. you are my hero mr. jones. i love you and anticipate reading your random thoughts. ooooh, finally, i get to peek inside that delicious mind of yours. your fan, lefty

Slarry said...

Totally in support of the big bad blog. And don't go gentle, but rage and fight-- and I will be right by your side fighting with you.
Am here for you always-- all I know is that pancreatic cancer is sick and wrong and that I don't want you or anyone else to have it, but especially you. You are my hero, place of refuge and respite.
I'm amazed at your strength and courage- well, not really, for you have always been amazing. But am grateful to be as close to you as I am. Here is to soy milk and stools. Slarry

Slarry said...
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