I am feeling fine, emotional, but basically fine. Janet goes to her Pilates club. I pack the car, run a couple of errands and pick her up. I pack my own lunch even though Heather is a great cook. But my diet is so restricted that Janet suggests we take leftovers for me

We go to the market. Murray who owns the organic store is so delighted to see me. Big handshake and a semi-hug. The new sign for the store is delivered. He insists we stay and take a look at it. He is so proud of it. We buy a bunch of stuff. The bag is too heavy for me to carry by myself. Janet and I each hold a handle. Suddenly, I am 80. We laugh about it. This is the new normal.

We leave town around 11:00. Traffic is light and we make great head way. The farm is not very far and we get there by 12:00 or 12:30. They have another guest, a woman named Beth. She and Janet know one another.  Beth says she is going to change her wig and might go swimming. Wig=chemotherapy=cancer. I remember that from my mother.

I go inside the house and talk with Neil. He wants to watch his rugby games. I have not watched in a long time and beg off the invitation to join him. He asks after my health and I tell him. He is disturbed by what he hears, but has a very clinical approach to listening. We go outside to join the others, and Janet is holding court and is obviously bringing all up to date. The first thing I hear when we get to the pool is Beth addressing me saying: “I hear you have your own set of health problems”. It is in the open and with a total stranger, at least to me.

A very interesting and enlightening conversation ensues. She has a lot of experience and advice having just gone through this. Live every day on that day. Keep positive. Surround yourself with support. Diet. Medical system. What to look for. Emotional stability. And on and on it went. Everyone is so supportive, one forgets how bad things could still be. We have to keep reminding ourselves, we still don’t know.

We leave around 3PM to head home. I feel good. No crash and no feeling of exhaustion. Janet wants to go straight home. I say we go for ice cream. We arrive at the ice cream store -Ed’s where else- by around 5. We have invited Sascha and Leigh to join us. He has been calling at least once a week to see how I am. She has not called. Not even once. I am very sore about that. Have not spoken with her in about 4 weeks. I can barely look at her. I tell her I am fine in response to her question to which she responds that she knows I am not and am just saying that. Not sure what I am supposed to say. Do I go into a litany of woes and concerns whenever someone asks? According to the new normal, I am fine. I am as fine as can be expected given the circumstances. Still alive, as Alex Miklos used to say.

We have our ice cream, by which time, we really have to go home. Tired. Need to rest. Not much happens for the rest of the evening. These pauses in life are spent trying to come to terms with what is happening. I do not have feelings of “why me?”. Such a wasted thought pattern. Instead, how do you deal with this. What strange conversations to have.

What is the new normal?

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