There is an ancient Chinese story about an old farmer with one son. They are very poor, so poor that the son has to pull the plow to cultivate their field. Seeing this, a wealthier person gives them a horse. The village is jubilant, “What a good piece of luck,” they say. “We”ll see,” says the old man.The son doesn’t know much about horses, but he sets off to ride to their field and begin to plow. Halfway there, he falls off and breaks his leg. The villagers carry him home. What a terrible piece of luck, they say. The old man and the son will starve to death. “We’ll see,” says the old man. Then the ruler of their district declares war and orders all the men to report for military duty bringing their own weapons. It is a war they are sure to lose against a powerful enemy, especially as they have only shovels and scythes for weapons. How lucky you are, everyone says, that your son cannot go to war. “We’ll see,” says the old man.
I have read versions which go on from there to 7 or 8 different circumstances, but always with the same reply, ‘We’ll see.”
At present, I am waiting to see.
After 10 months of Covid isolation, depression, terror, hand washing, mask wearing and prayer, I suddenly felt very happy. I had a dream, which I could see could become a novel. It wrote itself. It was like taking dictation. I loved the characters and the challenge of imaging Colombia in 2120, when sea level rise is wrecking havoc and civilization is going down hill. I especially like the humor of the book, the answer to the question, how do you live in a dying world.
I plugged away at it, eventually producing a revised version, 370 double-spaced lines or about 90,000 words.
On Tue. August 31, 2021, the following happened:
-the dentist said I have no cavities,
-three of the Beta readers of my novel report they can’t understand it, although it seems as if I have a good book in my head. The other two haven’t looked at it yet
-I discover that the funny rib knob at my sternum is a very large breast lump.
By good luck, I get an in-office doctor visit with my GP. I get a mammogram and an ultra sound two days later. I get a biopsy two days after that and am told because of Labor Day, I will get the results on the 14th of September, but by good luck, my GP calls and tells me the cells are positive for cancer and by further good luck I am already signed up for an appointment with a general surgeon, although, bad luck, not until Sept. 20th.
I begin rewriting my novel (I trust You to Kill Me) https://115journals.com/2021/08/11/new-novel-goes-to-beta-readers/ following the advice of the 3 crazed Beta readers, who can’t follow version 2 to the extent that they have lost their minds.. On Sunday evening, I finish for the day and save version 3 on the desktop (thus on iCloud) and on my backup drive. On Labor Day, I begin to open version 3.
It isn’t there. Not on the Desktop, not on the backup drive and icloud hasn’t heard of me. I spend 3 hours with Apple helpers. Sorry dear!
But there is hope. I have printed up to page 211 of version 3 and given it to an uncrazed Beta reader, who has not read anything yet, but she is 3 hours away at a cottage. Never mind. I have 151 pages printed and lying on my desk.
So, I start out again with short breaks to mourn my mortality – I am 85. Short breaks to be comforted by a) booklovers and b) relatives. Short breaks to comfort relatives. Short breaks to lose my mind utterly. Short breaks to lie down and stare.
Today, I have rewritten up to p.150.
The lump has the same steep, volcanic contour as one of the Andes mountains in my book and is spreading out into the llanos or grasslands.
I am not a stranger to cancer diagnosis, having had breast cancer in the left breast in ’98, 23 years ago, and a carcinoid in my ascending colon in 2001, that memorable month, 20 years ago. By the time, it was my turn for surgery, I hadn’t eaten sold food for a month and fitted size 8 jeans.
I threw out the ‘cancer’ wardrobe in a fit of optimism two years ago after my ex-husband died – of cancer..
I miss those carefree winter days vaccinated, taking dictation from some heavenly muse, never having heard of the Delta variant. I thought I was lucky then.
It’s not a good idea to try to change the future, so I’m just waiting to see – and writing.
“But surely goodness and mercy
will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”