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Contract Scribbled on a Rain Cloud

"In Fleeting Health, Moments to Savor", an essay by Loren Berlin, appeared in yesterday's New York Times [1]. It offers a moving reminder of much that we take for granted—and of the importance of living in the present, not past or future. A key observation:

Which raises the fundamental question of expectations. As a patient with an incurable illness, should I expect to be well and be surprised when my colitis flares? Or should I expect to be sick and be surprised when I am well? My doctor would want me to expect, even demand, to be well—and that's what I want, too. But I am afraid. Afraid to believe in something so ephemeral as remission, reluctant to trust this coquettish sweetness called normalcy.

Because my current good health is so precious to me, I am anxious that it might abandon me at any moment. I can't predict, or control, the ebbs and flows of my illness. Instead, I am at its mercy. And that's what I can't yet absorb: that I am not through with this disease, that I have just completed the first round.

I have to embrace my restored health while accepting that it may not last. It's a contract scribbled on a rain cloud. It's mine, until it's not.

So I have to take my current good health and show it off to the world. I have to visit my girlfriends in California, and gorge myself on burritos. I have to camp in the mountains, and buy a cute dress for spring. Because today, this happy body is mine. And if I lose it tomorrow, then that will happen tomorrow. Not today.

^z - 2009-03-04

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