Sarah, Kat, Kim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Intention //  Let’s set our intention for the month of December.  What do you hope to get out of a month of writing each day?  What is your favourite part about writing – the idea, the first words, the final sentiments?

Don’t fall apart.

I learned years ago that ALL years are hard. That’s just a Thing that happens sometime around the time you hit your late 20s, and continues well into middle age. Once you get past the graduations / weddings stage, and you’re into the having babies / losing babies / harrowing years of fertility treatments / divorces stage. It’s just sort-of…a slog, peppered with really lovely things along the way.

This is not to sound grim. This is Me Being a Realist.

About nine months ago, this year Shit the Bed. The Anticipated March Towards The Grave became more like a Shit Slide. But it wasn’t so much a…blowout. It was more of a leaking colostomy bag of a year.

That’s the context for this intention.

Yesterday, I had my annual appointment to confirm that there are no rogue cancer cells hiding in my cervix. Cancer screenings are necessary every three years for women aged 21-65, but I am on a more consistent check-up schedule following treatment for extremely early-stage cervical cancer a few years ago. I was lucky, but these things are silent killers, and once you’ve had even the most minor of cancers, or even dysplasia, you are at ten times higher risk of recurrence of invasive cancer than the general population.

I recently switched to a new practice after my old doctor jumped on the bandwagon of: You’re Not Getting Any Younger So When Are You Going to Have a Baby? In recent months, That Whole Thing had become exquisitely painful and utterly unbearable, and I peaced out for a doctor whose practice wasn’t a baby factory.

So yesterday morning, I sat in a small, grim Fifth Avenue office with a very tall doctor, and delighted in the fact that, for once, I was there to discuss the issue at hand, and not talk about the pictures of cherubic children plastered all over the walls, seemingly designed to make me feel worse than I already had over the Thanksgiving holiday.

How can I help you? the doc asked me. And I told him. I confessed that in addition to needing a clean bill of health, I’d been diagnosed with a somewhat hairy autosomal-dominant genetic disorder; that I was terrified of all of the information I’d been given over the previous nine months. I gave him a detailed medical history, beyond what he already knew from the thick file I’d sent. He typed furiously as we talked.

I think I’m a disappointment to my family because I haven’t produced any heirs, I finally confessed. (The therapy portion of the appointment was apparently included when you were working with medical practitioners West of Lex).

So am I, he said, I’m not even married.

I do have a dog, I offered.

I don’t even have a dog, he said, My partner in this practice, who I’ve known since residency, had two labs and they were sort-of her babies, so I get it.

Had? What happened to them?

Oh she had them for years. Then they died. They’re dead.

We both looked at each other and laughed uproariously.

The appointment concluded; appropriate follow-up was scheduled; we shook hands and I went on my way. I stepped out into the misty morning and inhaled sharply, holding it together because the pressure was finally off.

I have kept it together all year. From those first moments of dread in Paris, to the ensuing medical carnival that took up my spring and summer, to the Tough Decisions I made in the Autumn. I am learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable. But the goal – in writing and in life, right now – is simply not to fall apart.


Leave a Comment

  1. I don’t have anything to say that would even be remotely helpful other than that was my goal for the previous two years for different reasons. I’m reading.

  2. 2016 is just the year that keeps on giving. I think “shit the bed” is an accurate description in so many ways.

  3. Ask yourself … am I over-analyzing to find justification in my fear … fear of my own imperfections when faced with the realities of medical diagnoses and other issues handed down which one didn’t ask for, instead of seeing all the positive one has?

    Regarding heirs … being afraid of possibly being responsible for someone other than oneself – terrified at the reality of needing to love something you’ve never met … and all the questions that go along with that process … those cherubic faces on the walls represent someone else’s leaps of faith … and behind those photos is the reality of parents going home with a stranger and being scared shitless of doing to wrong thing and screwing this being up for life. To see your child and realize ” I made that ” … is rather narcissistically amazing.

    I feel being able to let go of the need for perfection is paramount for truly being satisfied with life. Alone or partnered … it is the dance including the missteps making life more interesting. Imperfections and being able to fall apart and then gather the pieces and make yourself new and perhaps, better with those same pieces, is the challenge and what keeps one sane … and growing … moving forward to a fulfilling life of gathering and adding new pieces … to make life’s sculpture possibly more interesting and more fun. RELAX … breathe … sometimes challenge yourself to NOT look before you leap … fall apart … whatever … it is all life.

    that’s it from me tonight as life continues to surprise me

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