Deathbed Diaries: On Crying

Death and taxes are a fact of life. Unfortunately for more than 70,000 women (and men) in the U.S. between the ages of 20-39, they will add cancer to that list too, more specifically breast cancer. It’s a growing epidemic striking more women per year and at younger ages. In fact, every day, three women under the age of 40 die from this disease and after the age of 35, it becomes one of most common ways a woman will die. Under this shit-pile of facts is one woman’s story.

Why do I have to keep repeating to myself that it’s okay to cry? It’s even okay to zone out for a day or more, if I want. It’s not like I’m dealing with a paper cut. Whatever keeps me sane — right? People have benders; I need mine. Instead of crack though, I fix for isolation. Makeshift sensory deprivation bathing in my windowless bathroom on sunny afternoons and longing for my couch parasitically: I know that when everything feels too off, like hitting psychological black ice, retreating is where I find my Zen.

Besides, between Internet shopping, email, Kardashian drama, Seamless and my endless mini creative endeavors, a comfort bubble is easy to find — which is excellent, considering how my mind can now spontaneously spiral out of control. Like a cat going under the bed before it dies, I too go undercover, into the maudlin shadows, but hoping the clouds will pass and leave me peaceful or at the very least, numb — because sometimes, that’s all that there is. Even so, breaking the glass and pulling the red lever for myself is never so easy.

B.C. (Before Cancer), I never spent stretches of days alone, inside, unless something dire was happening. If anything, I’d go to the bodega. I’m not trying to deny my homebody-ness, but these current loner marathons did not happen, as long as I was ambulatory. However, this new disaster needs massive alone time to digest and the Internet conveniently supports this behavior.

I’ve been up against walls before, but not like this. Even so, I’m not a crier. Not even when I heard the doctor utter the word cancer. Stoicism/resilience is strong in me and to go against my nature is like trying to escape from a cult. I know it’s wrong, but it’s what I know. Too bad this melancholy is like plaque building on my psyche and that self-pity is the Greta Garbo of my emotions – it’s reclusive; it doesn’t want to be on display. Yet, at this point, I’m beyond the oversize sunglasses stage. Next time my tear dams burst, I’ll need a veil to conceal the sorrow. Things with existential effects, like long above ground subway trips can trigger me.

Recently, I met up with my friend and then wound up balling and balling and balling. I started and couldn’t stop. I made no sense and was a snotty mess, I’m sure. Unlike heartbreak, though, when these tears dry, disease is still there inside me, and these episodes have a will of their own. Thankfully, my friend, my campadre since I was 16, was a tower of power and full of reinforcement, pulling me out of the total emotional annihilation zone.

Typically, the chance of one of these psychotic maelstroms hitting me are higher when I have to do something disease-related. That’s true even though I LOVE my doctor. It’s unfortunate we met this way. I am lucky to have him. He is and has been beautiful throughout. Thankfully, this time I broke down in the back of a bar, sunk into a tall, dark and oversized wooden booth, making me feel like I was in an Edward Gorey story. Otherwise, I have to say, having a public meltdown SUCKS. It’s like shitting your pants. You’re freaked, vulnerable and self-condemning.

Programmed not to cry and armed with a high tolerance for disappointment, I wish I didn’t judge myself for being sad — but I do. Overnight, thanks to my diagnosis, crying went from a luxurious indulgence to a necessity I can’t control. Still, I want to approach life like an ice skater that finishes her already hacked up routine with some grace. The problem is my habit of getting ahead of myself — which was fine when I didn’t have a toe tag in my near future. Now, thinking too far ahead means mourning. Mourning myself. I could easily “out-die” Queen Victoria when it comes to dreaming up romantic rites of grief, but why be so emo about it all? Only if I were to die and then wake up as a new life on this earth again, I’d cry even harder. For sure, some new mom would be getting one bitchy ass baby.

With that said: The more I love you, the more you’ll miss me,


Our anonymous Deathbed Diaries (formerly One Day Less) blogger is officially on Twitter. Follow her at @KillerTitz.