My whole life
The best way I can characterise things at the moment is that I have two lives, existing in parallel. There is the good life in which I feel normal and I want to eat curry and fish and hamburgers, and drink red wine, and talk to people and play with my children. And then there is my chemo half-life, which takes over when the FoxyFol is injected. In this life I feel shut up in myself, sick from my head to my feet, exhausted and have (as Ruth Picardie put it so nicely), PMT to the power of 10. Fun times! So far the half-life has been unpredictable. At first, I felt fine. Wotzallthefussabout, I thought. But then the second cycle was harder and this time round I have been totally submerged into my half-life like Euridyice being pulled down into the underworld. I tell you this for two reasons. First, to excuse the total lack of response to emails and letters. Your messages are a golden thread of loveliness in my grumpy gloom, even if responding is mostly beyond me. Second, because the half-life is making me a disagreeable companion, and because wedmin and book writing are pressing, I am going to be a bit of a hermit in January. See you when the crocuses come up.
But that is enough about the half-life. I want to tell you about my whole life, which re-asserts its strength over the FoxyFol after a few grim days of struggle. Luckily for me and mine, Christmas hols fell during 10 days of wholeness. And during these hols, life was like the very best John Lewis advert you can imagine. I had my own theme song propelling me along. The only thing that could have improved it was snowball fights (so Isaac tells me). So now when I am feeling out-foxed, I have a montage of pure brilliantness which I can play in my head to remind me it won’t last forever. It goes something like this.
Sunday 23 December, 2pm. The feeling of toxic foxes running through my veins lifts, suddenly. I am consumed with energy and iron a huge pile of sheets. Hurrah! This gives me unspeakable amounts of pleasure. The prospect of being well for the season of festivities is all I want for Christmas. I play my Christmas video from the AGI-ers and have a little laugh and cry (viewings on application). Christmas eve, Billy and I sit down for dinner. Presents are wrapped, stockings stuffed, ‘nacks left for FC on his long route round the world (and down the extractor fan at 47 Ross St, since we don’t have a chimney). Smoked salmon, caviar, cheese, PORT for me and B.
Christmas Day. FC made it down the extractor fan to deliver our bounty. Morning is a haze of joyous stocking opening and transformer-making. Optimus Prime is Weaponised. The Thunder Cats sword does get bigger and bigger, and its’ sides come out. We are en route to Greenwich for further festivities. Enormous Christmas lunch is consumed, Isaac learns his first magic trick from OIiver. We sit by the fire and make a pirate ship. No-one has norovirus (this is a first) and we are having so much fun I don’t even watch Downton Abbey.
Boxing Day. Greenwich park. Oscar and I take a wrong turning and end up walking up some very steep hills, past Queen Elizabeth’s oak. It feels good to have his little paw in mine and better to have him on my shoulders. Strong legs, strong legs.
Betwixtmas: Feeling warm in the company of people I have known for half a lifetime. My urban family, my funny friends, all grown up. I look through old photos and see us young and wearing hi-shine tops and heeley boots in the college bar and feel so glad to have them here.
New Year: Big skies and Suffolk sea with the North-Ginsbergs. Eating like I know the half-life sickness is coming: home-cured side of salmon, rib of beef, vacherin, curry, Jenny’s patented crispy duck. A solitary wet and cold walk on the beach where I feel the wind holding me up and propelling me along, beside a raging sea. The next day, blue skies, calm seas, a bit of warmth in the air. Three little boys follow me around a wild wood and down to the beach where we dash in and out of the waves and don’t even mind if our socks get wet.