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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bad dates

One year ago today, I wrote a little in a journal, but what poured out was so dark and sad that I had to put it away. We're not doing this, I said to myself.

Because there was a definite "we." I felt strangely not alone in the days following the mastectomy. Yes, I was surrounded by my family. But there was something someone closer. Some people would probably say that it felt like the presence of god or an angel. But I think it was that I was occupied by two selves. The old me, tidying things up, leaving things like lists of instructions and passwords for the new me. The old me packing up her things, donning some kind of pert hat, and taking a last long look around before closing the door. The two mes, one going, one coming. I wrote in my journal about bleeding from many orifices (I somewhat cruelly got my period the day after my mastectomy). A shedding of the old, a purging.

The idea of a doubling or twinning of a person gets tossed around a lot in English classes. I guess it's related to the idea of the foil. Was one of my selves a foil for the other? One good, one bad, to be reductive? Or was it a tag teaming of consciousness, or some evidence of alternate universes? Over the past year I sometimes succumbed to torturing myself with the ever present What if? What if this didn't happen to me - what would I be doing? Dates that I had planned to do things, finish my novel, apply for fellowships, pass me by with little fanfare. I wonder about an alternate me somewhere, accomplishing everything on time. I have, several times, been reminded of a passage from Tess of the D'Urbervilles:

"She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the year; the disastrous night of her undoing at Trantridge with its dark background of The Chase; also the dates of the baby's birth and death; also her own birthday; and every other day individualized by incidents in which she had taken some share. She suddenly thought one afternoon, when looking in the glass at her fairness, that there was yet another date, of greater importance to her than those; that of her own death, when all these charms would had disappeared; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there. When was it? Why did she not feel the chill of each yearly encounter with such a cold relation? "

These events make echoes, bouncing back and forth over the years. My Christmas freak-out four years after Matt's diagnosis can attest to that. But where is the warning shot? The creak on the staircase that tells you that you're not alone in the house? There isn't one, most times. And would we even want it?

I woke up today filled with dread. It's been one year, I thought, since the mastectomy. I spent the morning feeling nervous and snappish, and looking in the mirror, and feeling sad for my lost self. I looked for a photo that Matt took of me in the hospital. The photo, which I distinctly remember him taking after I moved from recovery to my room, was dated August 2, 2012. Not August 3. Yesterday. Sure there was something wrong with his phone, I checked my calendar. Thursday, August 2 contained the word "Surgery," neatly printed with a felt tipped pen. Still not convinced, I checked my email for references, and found, again and again, that the anniversary was yesterday.

A day that passed by, with little fanfare.

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