Losing Exits

I’m out of my mind

Think you can wait?

I’m way off the line

Think you can wait?

We’ve been running a sleepless run
Been away from the baby way too long
We’ve been holding a good night gun
We’ve been losing our exits one by one.

I’ll try
I’ll try
But I couldn’t be better
All I have is loss

The National, “Think You Can Wait’

Damn it. And damn me- for always being so God-damned human all of the time.

A million times, I have told myself that I have accepted what is happening to me, and a million times I believe it is true. But then there are days, like today- scan result days, that lay out for me clearly that this trial is not working and everything has progressed. Days when they take down the harsh, fake plastic curtain of the process of medical care. And behind it is that stark image of the freight train at the end of this tunnel that is barreling toward me.

My days, these days are lost in the mix and the joy of home life and children and vacations that I throw on the calendar that I know full well that I likely won’t make it to, but which still give me a goal that makes me walk around with my brain not already half in the grave.

My days, these days are lost in the medications that I take like white paint over black, creating fuzziness and which dull the increasingly sharp pain penetrating outward from deep inside.

But then there are days like today, where I forget to pack my long-acting morphine pill and the physical pain grinds through and I realize that my abdomen and back feel like the aftermath of a cheese grater taken to them and all that remains are the tender, raw, abused fleshy parts

Ah, infuriating days like today where I discover that there still is a crevice in my brain that entertains fantasies about a secret key that will unlock the shackles and let me out of this dark, isolating echo chamber, staring at that train. This place where I must be so terribly, terribly alone.

Where I sit and I let the hours pass between one city and another and wonder: Which anguish would I prefer to be free of right now? The emotional? Or the physical?

I decide that physical wins. I cannot move forward with my days being a choice between a sharp pain that makes me irritable or a dulled pain that is livable, but which makes ME dull as well. Neither a day spent restless, nor a day spent trying to stay awake is really a will sufficiently qualify as a “life” that I want to live right now.

Arriving home, I move to apply salve on the physical; belatedly taking the lost dose of morphine and then pour a bath for myself. It soothes and settles me to a still enough water; space to allow the emotional to bubble up from beneath to break on its surface. I make a half-hearted attempt at distraction only to instead find myself shaky-crying over “on this day” reminders on Facebook. Reminders of a life that I led years ago which is now gone forever.

These leaky things come out of my facial orifices and I realize how long it’s been since I just let them loose. I built my dry earth village of acceptance; but I forgot that I must add water to that dirt to make it real. I must acknowlege my emotions first, before I let them go to mold the dirt into clay. To create something more permanent that cannot soo easily blow away. So I get out my phone and write. And I let the rain fall a little bit longer.

At home, it has just rained too. Petrichor. The smell of release, change and of new beginnings.

I get no rebirth. But I do get another day of home life, and children, and unrealistically hopeful vacations to throw on the calendar.

And some next steps to decide on tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “Losing Exits

  1. I’ve been reading your blog recently Heather and I just wanted to say how beautifully I think you write; your posts are touching, heartbreaking and inspiring!
    ‘Forty-two’ was particularly moving for me as I recently lost my husband 2 months after his 42nd birthday.
    I’ll be thinking of you and truly hoping that you find that secret key!


  2. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I am so sorry to hear about the recent loss of your husband.

    It isn’t right, and it will never be okay to lose someone before you dreamed we would ever have to on that day that you said “I do.”

    I am not a religious person, but I have come to believe that the love that I have for my husband and kids is so big, so round, and so full that there is no way that it could ever leave them, even though my body has. In that way, I just know that his love must surround you and follow through as well.

    Take care of yourself,


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to comment on your comment… you are 100% correct. My husbands mom died when he was eight and even though he lost her 38 years ago we feel her Love in our life everyday. Her short time in his life has made him the caring, compassionate person he is and I will forever be grateful to her. She will always be a part of our life even if we can’t have her physically here. Not only is your family better for your love but they are infinitely blessed with the beautiful words you are giving them. The comfort you get from writing will be the comfort they need when things are hard. You are infinitely talented and that will be forever. I will keep hoping that key you seek is found. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Jen, this is so sweet. If I wish for anything, it is that they continue to carry my love for them with them, always. Because it’s just so big, I can’t imagine it going anywhere else. Thank you so, so much for your comforting words.


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