A Hello That Is Really A Goodbye
by Lior Jacober
Hello, Dark Figure looming in my bedroom doorway. I am surprised and not-surprised to see you there, hanging back in the shadow, between the hall and my room. You have come uninvited. You lurk, you watch. You enjoy the fear that you are able to provoke in me.
1987. First occurrence. Perhaps not first brush with death, but that, as they say, is another story. Had you looked like Death did in 1961’s Twilight Zone – that rugged, handsome, blue-eyed Robert Redford of 21 – I might have been fool enough to let the fantasy carry on. But you are dark, threatening. Your hood covering what would have been a face. Your cape covering what would have been a body. You want something from me. And I, at 31, am not about to give, not about to give up.
I fight. I fight you. I fight to finish my classes at school, to graduate, to begin grad school in a fog. I fight blood cancer. Then I fight what I think is big-guns chemo (which I am to find out, years later, is only Aggressive. Not nearly the Salvage Chemo that was to come…) I fight with the doctors to tell me everything, even what they do not know. They are sometimes condescending. (It is also before the Enlightened Age, when folks will be expected to be educated about their diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options.) I fight those who say that macrobiotics is a harmful diet, including my oncologist, who really knows nothing about it anyway. I fight the statistics, talking about chances of death, and the 50% infertility rate in women who have had this chemo. I fight with M., my live-in partner, who wants to turn us into Love Story.
I fight the fear. Fear of baldness making an example of me. (Having read too much sci-fi as a teen – we all knew that WWIII will leave us radiated and dying, bald and alone.) Fear of otherness. Fear of numbness, physical and emotional. Fear of the insurmountable nausea. Fear of dying. Fear of death.
Fearing Death is another thing altogether. You, I fight. I strive to overcome. I order you to leave. You, my friend and not-friend, the shadow not-mine, looming in the entrance to my sickbed, you I no longer fear. Since you operate in the usual M.O., you are taken aback at my altered approach. My laughing at you. Naming you. Telling you to get lost. It is not what you expect.
Goodbye old friend and not-friend. You are not welcome where I am. Where I live.
Lior Jacober’s Bio
Lior Jacober is a single Mom, seamstress, prize-winning pie chef, and well on her way to becoming a credentialed elementary school teacher. She has had lymphoma 4 times, and has survived not only that but: 4 types of chemo, 4 thousand rads* of radiation, living in 4 different states (Ohio, Florida, Upstate New York and now California,) 4 siblings, and more than 4 decades on this sweet planet.
* The unit formerly used to measure the level of ionizing radiation absorbed by something, equal to 0.01 joule per kilogram of irradiated material.