Monday, March 26, 2007

Your Content Has Been Deleted

Nearly ten years ago, I was warned that the real troubles in my life would blindside me at 4:00 PM on some idle Tuesday. Strangely, I never forgot the warning, but little did I know how true it would be.

In the late Nineties I would carpool my son to middle school. I liked to play music on cassette tapes during the trip. I am prone to playing a tape I like over and over for a long time. One of my favorites was “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen),” by Baz Luhrmann. This was a reading, set to music, of an imaginary commencement speech by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune published June 1, 1997 that became famous on the Internet as the speech that was never delivered at a graduation by Kurt Vonnegut. (A quick web search will yield both versions.) The speech is full of all sorts of memorable lines like: “Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth,” “Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone,” and “Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.” The relevant chestnut here is;

“Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”

In my case, it was 4:10 p.m. on a Tuesday, and while I wasn’t being idle, I was distracted, knowing that I was expecting my ever-vigilant urologist to call with the results of my second biopsy in less than two years. My cell phone went off. “One of your samples shows a malignancy.” I wasn’t exactly blindsided, either, because I had a gut feeling that my luck had run out. Somehow, out of the depths of my memory that line from a song I hadn’t thought about in years bubbled to the surface.

After the call, I went through the motions of working for a little while longer, went home, changed plans and walked to Moose Hill. I wanted to be alone and I knew where I wanted to go. I walked up Moose Hill Parkway and took one of my favorite trails, the one that goes over Hobbs Hill. Early spring was in the air. It was cloudy and cool, but the recent snow was wet and melting fast. I tried to look around; to spot changes in the woods. We didn’t have much snow this winter so the many deer tracks in the slush reminded me of the tales a little snow cover could tell. Looking up through the oaks, I saw a pair of newly-returning turkey vultures teeter-tottering in the wind. It wasn’t easy to concentrate, though.

I thought about how spring would come and other seasons would pass, no matter what happened to me. I walked by my favorite breakfast rock, reluctant to look at it for fear that I would feel like I was looking at it for the last time. Look, I knew I was over-reacting. My cancer is common among aging (Ouch!) men. It is in the very early stages, probably as early as it’s possible to detect, and it’s very curable. But I figure everybody is entitled to a little moodiness after such a diagnosis, no matter how good the prognosis. Between thoughts of fear, uncertainty, self-pity – even guilt and failure – I moved along the trail and also thought about the hours I’d spent here over the past year and knew I would be back many more times. As I walked, I started to come to my senses. I am fortunate to live in a time and place where state-of-the-art medical care is available. I have a loving and supportive family. My health is otherwise good and I’m young and strong enough to recover quickly from surgery.

Just as I was feeling good enough to head back home, my cell phone went off again. This time, it was a text message from my phone company. The only time I had ever used my phone to upload photos was when I took two pictures of baby snapping turtles crossing Moose Hill Parkway in September (See “Two Little, Too Late,” September 16, 2006.). The account had been inactive since then and they wanted to clear out the old files, I guess. The message informed me: “Your Content Has Been Deleted.”

Oh, great, I thought. I only got my diagnosis a couple of hours ago and already they’re getting rid of my stuff, cleaning up after me, erasing traces of my existence, deleting the content of my soul. Before long, I’ll only be a memory, and that too will fade.

Not yet, you bastards. Not yet.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Now I really wish I had leapt across the damn table to give you a hug. Let optimism prevail. Keep going to Moose Hill. We all get blindsided: it's just what gets handed to each of us to deal with that differs. Hang in there. I'm here if you need me.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

You have a loving and supportive blogging family out here too (((hugs))). You are in my prayers today.
If you would, lease keep us posted.

BTW- it's the phone company's job to make us feel powerless and insignificant...

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Enjoy what's beautiful in life more than ever and keep your spirits up.-Hopefully this is just another obstacle for you to get past.-I don't generally hug men but I'm hoping the best for you.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

I believe a positive attitude means everything to a person's continued health.

Be well and positive!

At 11:07 PM, Blogger MojoMan said...

With all these hugs and all this encouragement, how could I not feel optimistic? It means a lot to me to know you are all out there in blog land. The meeting with the urologist to discuss options and probable results left me very upbeat. I hope this turns out to be one of life's little challenges we get through and wind up - in some ways - better.

Julie: Seeing your live presentation and the Harvard Museum of Natural History was just what the doctor ordered to cheer me up. I wish we could have talked a bit more, but you were so busy taking care of - as you like to say - bidniss.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger CabinWriter-- said...

Why does it take a scare to make us aware of how good life is? You expressed yourself so well, I'm sending a copy of your entry to my friends whose hearts have palpitated irregularly over similar news.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Lilly said...

Argh! My first comment was deleted, too. And I missed this post somehow the first time around. Mojo, you are strong and you have all the birds singing for you. You will prevail! But it sucks, nevertheless.
Geisai gesunt (as they say in Jewish) "go in health"


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