The other day I was playing soccer with my seven-year-old grandson, who was teaching me how to do a header. This is where you hit the soccer ball into the air with your head, but instead I took a header myself, spilling into the grass face-first. I got up laughing, my only injuries a scrape across my nose and a big circular grass-stain marring my white, cropped hair. Despite the beating it’s taken over the last nine months, this body is still hanging in there.
Knowing that my time on this earth is probably winding down, it is a pleasure to enjoy things like playing with my grandkids. I’ve decided to stop all conventional Western treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, because the cancer is spreading in my liver and doctors no longer think it will make much of a difference. Whether the end will come in two weeks, two months, or two years, no one can say–and so I take it one day at a time, finding joy in the struggle to understand dying, planning my own memorial celebration, and exploring my feelings about where we go when this life is over. These have not been sad conversations, but interesting, ephemeral topics that I am curious about and able to face head on.
And so, it is time to decide whether to head back to my house in Cupertino, the place I have spent the last 50 years of my life, or to stay here in Los Angeles, where I have made a safe, cozy nest for the last six months. Up north, with my beloved Silicon Valley laid out before me and my garden, chickens, and unfinished manuscripts crying out for attention, I am not sure if I will feel at home or overwhelmed. I guess I will just have to see.
For now, I wipe the grass stain from my hair and head back out to the lawn with my grandkids, not knowing how many more chances I will get to play.
The Death of the Self – by Linda Pastan