B’s in surgery right now. I’m waiting for the operating nurse to call back and update how it’s going. So far they’ve called twice during the procedure and said it’s going well. I still don’t know what kind of surgery they did, ‘cuz they weren’t gonna know until after they saw how her pancreas looked. It could be something simple or it could end up pretty complicated.
Ro has soccer practice in an hour, after which I’m covering the Knicks game tonight. I’m torn — she loved her first-ever practice two days ago & it’d pro’ly be a welcome distraction for both of us. The weather is beautiful. But even though we have no idea how long the surgery will be and it’s unlikely I can visit B tonight, with her likely to be out of it until after visiting hours end and Ro not allowed in the cancer center, it feels weird & wrong to imagine myself sitting in the sun on the sideline of a soccer practice while my fiancee has a tumor removed and loses some to most of a vital organ.
The last person I cared about who had pancreatic cancer died within a couple weeks of the diagnosis. I’m super grateful B had gall stones that led to the discovery of the tumor. I’m super grateful she’s seeing a renowned surgeon and that they caught this so early in the process. I’m super grateful for how much love & support there’s been from family, friends and even people online we don’t know. What a lovely tribe strangers can be.
Tests last week show no sign of cellular spreading of B’s cancer cells. Surgery is in 2.5 weeks. In the meantime we take walks as a family and spend most of our days together and watch Jeopardy every night and the Knicks when they play. The Knicks have won 9 in a row. Man City won a trophy over the weekend. The Mets are more good than not. Our dogs get along. It’s almost grilling season. Life is good.
First it was a shadow on a scan. Then it “looked concerning.” Then there was no sign of spread. Then it looked like the best-case scenario, and always — always — we’re waiting on results. Results came back today. It is cancer. Not the best-case type. Not the worst-case. Something in the middle. Ups and downs meet in the middle.
Spring is blinging. Flowers, plants, bushes and trees are blooming. It’s the first half of April and the winter weather appears done for the year — no small thing in a place where it can snow in May. All three of my teams are in season. The love of my life is here and her prognosis may be best-case scenario rather than what we spent weeks fearing. Our daughter is this brief perfect liminal self somewhere between a sweet young child and brilliant, loving tween. The dogs are healthy and get along. I’m writing and podcasting and working on short- and long-term creative projects. Someday I’ll look back and know these were the best days of my life. That day is today.
I just realized I haven’t written here in over a year. Not a word since the pandemic became the thing. But that pittance of words doesn’t indicate a lack of stimuli. You know how neutron stars are crazy small (for a star) yet crazy dense? Like, a teaspoon weighs as much as Earth? That’s what the past 15 months have been. A world’s worth of whoa shrunk down to a sugar cube of spacetime.
I hope to resume writing here again. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll return, too.
I grew up literally next door to my grandparents. When school ended I went there at least as often as I did my own home. The school bus dropped me off at the end of the block and I’d run home, the sidewalk’s crests, valleys and slants as immutable as the big blue water tank towering over the town. As I ran, I made sure each foot crossed an equal number of cracks; if one foot got too far ahead, I’d make my gait as awkward and contorted as I had to to make sure the number evened out by the time I reached the front door. On especially unbalanced days I’d cheat to achieve equality. Crossing from the sidewalk into a driveway or past the edge of the lawn counted as a crack. Each step up the front porch could, too. By any means necessary.
We moved upstate to a neighborhood that didn’t have sidewalks. I’d never even known that was possible. Our new home was in a suburban tract where if you wanted to walk, you were out in the street. There was a sunken sliver of space between the streets and the lawns for water to flow down into the grates. In junior high and high school I’d get off the bus blasting Metallica, Public Enemy or Vladimir Horowitz in my walkman at volumes I knew then were dangerous and am now, at 41, beginning to pay the price for. As immersed in the music as I was, no matter how far from the non-sidewalk I was, I always accounted for the cracks. I always made sure by the time I got home that each foot had passed an equal number.
A girlfriend discovered a variation on this fixation when I was in college. Continue reading →
This time was different, though. I’m a light-skinned Puerto Rican who since age 10 has mostly lived around non-PRs, so I’m used to being labeled “other,” usually by ignorant-ass well-meaning white friends.
In high school I was walking upstairs talking with a friend who said something horrible about Spanish-speaking people. When she remembered I was there, and not white, she said “I’m talking about spics. You’re one of the good ones.”
A friend I hung out with every day after school for years “found out” I was Puerto Rican late in high school. “Wow,” he said. “I can see Dan [a darker-skinned mutual friend, also Puerto Rican] climbing up trees barefoot looking for coconuts. But not you.” He wasn’t kidding. Continue reading →