time, language, mastectomy

There is not language. This evening feels like the coloring box you get as a small child at restaurants, that has only primary colors, and your drawing requires chartreuse and magenta and tangerine. Language fails.

Time marches on. I wish I could bend the second hand, melt the hour hand, reconfigure the calender. I have zero desire to move the surgery forward or backward, it is time itself I wish to change. I want to time travel, push the seconds away, freeze the minutes, never let go. And yet the click-click-click of the second hand goes on, and on, and on.

I received so many texts and emails and phone calls and messages and cards today, and in the last week. Thank you. Each one means so much. I cannot respond right away to everyone, but they all mean the world, in their own special moment, and I take a moment to read each of them. I am sorry if you called and I didn’t answer, or if you emailed and I haven’t gotten back. I realized tonight what I needed was yoga (which felt kick-ass awesome) and then to come home and have friends over. I needed bodies. To talk about things and eat ice cream. A bunch of you showed up. Thank you. I needed you here so badly. Thank you for showing up. That meant so insanely much to me.

And again, language fails. I’ve been walking around in an alternate reality for several days. There’s the chatter about dissertations and lunch and pop culture. There’s people in cars and grocery shopping and waiting for the walk light. And then there’s me, and it’s as though I’m walking on a different plane, like a totally different planet, like my feet aren’t on the ground but on something else entirely. And there are no words. The defining feature of today, this week, even, is the lack of language, this profound and total inability to mirror feeling with words.

And so it goes. Language fails. Time fails. And we are left with bodies, breasts filled with cells run amok, cars that emit toxins and kittens that require cuddles. And tomorrow, goodbye she will say to the breast, carried away so far away, to the land of breasts that died too soon. I am only comforted to believe that somewhere, everyone elses’ breasts that died too soon are waiting for mine. I know that legions of women have walked this road before me, and that they are OK now. I know that it has been done, it can be done, as I sit on the edge of this particular canyon of unknowing and wait to be pushed over the edge. Those women who have done this before left parachutes, and I got one. And I will leave parachutes too, for certainly I won’t be the only one who spends time in this corner of the internet who walks this road.

I’m going to sleep now. The last night I’ll close my eyes with a left breast. How oddly final, and how horribly inadequate to say only that, but I literally have nothing else to say, because there is no language, there are no words that fit inside the place in my body where I know what it feels like to be the night before mastectomy.

I do of course, believe in magic, and that’s how I know I’m sending my breast off to be in the place where all the breasts who had cancer in them go, and I know there are breasts waiting there for it, breasts from women who have done this already. I know those breasts will hold my breast, and they will play beach volleyball and jump rope* and do yoga. Hot yoga. I have to hold on to this fantasy, because it links me all these other women I love so dearly, women who have been here, been through, and are rocking their lives. It’s a sense-making, a desperate one at that, and a comforting one, in which I’m not by myself, but I’m nuzzled right in a historical spot between the women who had it before, the me who has it now with the others who have it now, and those who will come later. The story let’s me be in community. Community.

So, tomorrow I’ll just wake at 5:30, and we will leave, and I will check in at 6 am, and my surgery will be at 8am. And that will be that. There will be no clock-hand bending, no time-freezing, no stopping in the moment. This is all there is.

Good night, said me with two breasts, for the last time. Good night.

 

 

*I worried I selected very gendered activities for the breasts to do in the place they go, where its sunny and where there’s lots of salt water to float in. Beach ball, jump rope, yoga. But gender is totally different in this place where the breasts go, and activities aren’t gendered, so f*ck that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “time, language, mastectomy

  1. Hey you lovely-fierce-woman-you: we’ll all be here for you when you come out of surgery. Poet Mary Oliver once wrote something like, “tell me what despair is your and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile, the world goes on.”
    I’m glad that your left breast is taking the cancer away. She rocks. See you very soon.

    Oh yeah, totally fuck the gendered activities part. đŸ™‚ xo

  2. Chels….
    Your words and example are nothing less than the expression of the intimate clarity, love, and connection which bring us all closer together. I guess Amigos really wasn’t a cult after all!
    “When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. There must be those among us who put up in public words sieved up in dreams, out of silence–words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist” Adrienne Rich
    I love you.
    Dad

  3. That boob cake is impressive! Awesome job Ariana. So thankful you have such a badass community in Vancouver to show up for you! I’m there in spirit! I love you!

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