By Nancy Tune
I am afraid my cancer will come back. I am afraid I will not be ready for it, that I will not behave gracefully as I die. That is not exactly right. I am afraid I will behave disgracefully as I die, especially if there is a lot of pain. There are cancer patients about whom people say, “She had a lot more pain than she let on.” I am afraid they will say about me, “She just didn’t deal with pain well. Not nearly as well as —— did.”
I am afraid my husband, whose advanced Parkinson’s has robbed him of his physical and mental well-being, will die. I am afraid my husband will not die, that we’ll go on like this forever, cobbling together our days and nights into a bearable routine, sometimes stumbling and failing and finding that we cannot bear it after all. I am afraid of realizing, over and over, that there is no alternative but to act as if we can bear it.
I am afraid I will never write again, or that I will write and write and never produce anything worthwhile. I am afraid I won’t have the energy to rewrite and rethink and make decisions about what I have already written. I am afraid other people will think that what I write is silly. I am more afraid, though, that when I am done, I will think that what I write is silly.
I used to be afraid that the plane would crash. Now that seems odd. What is a plane crash but freedom from the real fears? For me, it turns out, it’s not dying that scares me; it’s what happens as you run out of time.