There is nothing a cookie and a hot bath cannot solve. Until it can’t.
The hotter the better. The bubblier the better. The better smelling the bubbles, the better. Next to bed, a steamy bath is my favorite place. A white cat sits perched on a stool at bath’s edge each and every day. She stares deeply into the water as if it is the first time and tilts her head contemplating questions posed her.
The perfect bath? Get a pen, dolls. Sometimes music; sometimes not. Candles always. Scent is essential. The candle must be Aloha Orchid by Capri Blue at Anthropologie. Swirl with Philosophy’s Amazing Grace, VS’s Heavenly or Bath and Body’s Stress Relief for the bubble side. No finer scent mingling exists below the heavens. It is the creation of bliss, the elixir of calm, the solver of problems large and small.
Until it isn’t.
One night you’re dancing with a tall, dark stranger at a country bar actually considering his blue green eyes and the next you’re standing in a doctor’s office the picture of health muttering WTF under your breath. Words are glancing blows of sense and gibberish, slivers of reality and depths of nonsense.
“Yes, I do understand.”
He thinks I’m not following what he’s saying. I am following. I am just further down the road than he. I think, “Holy crap, this is great material.” I say it aloud.
“Oh, yes, you’re a writer.” And I say, “So if you mess up, everybody will know.” Poor Dr. H. I think he wonders if I’m serious. He slowly realizes this is my serious. Serious is something I do better than most.
So when he says the biopsy shows cancer spread to lymph nodes in the neck and that is reason for the lump, I am already plotting. He’s talking two surgeries, radiation and chemo. I’m plotting wellness. Plotting control of the situation and plotting my revenge on the bitch so many have known but I have yet to tackle.
Then he says, “No wine.” I laugh. He looks at me. “None?” say I. “None,” says he. “How about after surgery?”
I puzzle how many patients wonder of wine and good material when he pronounces cancer upon them. No matter. I know I will be fine. I don’t know how I know. I just know. Like I know how to breathe. Like I know I wore the perfect dress and heels to this initial battle. Like I know pearls will glisten even lovelier after my neck is sliced through.
“Since how you look is important to you…” he looks at me. “How could you tell?” I laugh. “I’m going to cut behind, toward the back so no one will be able to see the scar.” Thanks doll, say I.
And he does. The cut is gruesome and jagged and healing as I write. Its tightness strains my neck and hurts like hell. But he is correct. If my hair is down, you can’t see it. Wouldn’t even know it’s there. A boy would have to be pretty up close and personal to come face to face and ask, “What is that?”
“It’s what I brought back from the war. Any questions?”