I’m in my sixty seventh year. While that isn’t particularly old with the average 80 year life span Americans have, it’s definitely on the sunset side of things. People start to die of natural causes at age sixty and so my demise at sixty-seven wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Add to this that I suffer from Multiple Myeloma and the view is even more depressing. Right now statistics say that the majority of Multiple Myeloma victims perish within five years of attaining stage III according to the Durie-Salmon rating system. There is also the International rating system, but I tend to like the Durie-Salmon system because it takes into consideration certain physical milestones rather than being solely based on serum (chemical) indicators. For instance, the presence and concentration of lesions. I was most definitely in stage III when I was diagnosed and my condition has deteriorated rather profoundly since then. The point I’m driving at here is that my death could come any time. Yes, for those who have to argue every point, there’s nothing that says I have to die. Just because the sky is overcast with heavy, moisture laden clouds and the humidity is 90% doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to rain, there’s just a high likelihood of it.
Perhaps the close of a year and the replenishment of a new one causes me some reflection as well. The days ramping up and down from the holiday season with Christmas and New Years are always fraught with depression and gloom for many. Maybe a little seasonal affect disorder tossed in for good measure. But it’s true that the holidays are a time of greater depression. I wonder if the illusion of holiday, with its images of family and joy, somehow drive home the unhappy feelings in some, enhancing their sadness. Empty nesters feel a depressing sense of loss, their children now being adults are seeing to their own families and carrying on the traditions of the holidays.
But just the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new milieu of the holidays takes a toll on the aging and ill. Many of us tend to make a cocoon of bah-humbug, reducing the importance of the season to help ourselves get past the heightened depression we feel. A simple matter of self defense. And, for those of us with sit beneath the Sword of Damoclese, our cancer ever watchful of opportunity to raise the stakes, to increase its hold, we view a new year and an extension of the battlefield –as it were. Not like we’re soldiers engaged in any real battle. We’re just trying to stay alive. And there closes the circle. We’re trying to stay alive because our death appears imminent, lying just ahead in some shadow, just waiting to dispatch the grim reaper and his inevitable scythe.
Perhaps I would feel better if this wasn’t such a painful time; with too many hours laying about trying to avoid the stabs of agony and nothing to do but think. And I think about the pain and what it could mean because that’s the most present, most attention stealing subject at hand. But do I have any words of wisdom? Any means of feeling better? I’m afraid not. This is simply the natural progression of age and failing health. It is the ongoing circle where the old is replaced by the young.