The phrase above was said to me by an acquaintance at a party a couple months ago.
Cruel! Heartless! Clueless! Ludicrous! How many more synonyms can you think of that came to mind when you read this? Perhaps a few 4-letter versions? Yet, considering the source (not to be named), I was totally not offended, and believe it or not, actually laughed out loud. Of course you have to know the person delivering this line (not too many could get away with it) and you have to have been there to see how it was delivered. In other circumstances this might well have been fighting words. Well, considering I’m not prone to fisticuffs (I’ve always wanted to use that word), just walking away might have been appropriate. But we both had a good laugh, and as you know, laughter is the best medicine. (I hope the Reader’s Digest people don’t come after me for hijacking that phrase).
So, gallows humor. When is it appropriate? When is it not? Is it ever appropriate when you are talking to someone with a life-threatening illness? I know many of you would look aghast at such a thought. But I look at it in a whole different light.
One of the main reasons I opted to write this blog originally was to be very open so that when approached by someone, I don’t have to deal with the “how are you doing” question not knowing if they are aware or not. At the beginning it was a bit awkward when someone asked that question who hadn’t heard and I wasn’t sure how to answer. Now I rarely run into friends who are not aware.
And another part of being open is hoping that people will feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and yes, even joke. And when someone feels at ease enough to make that joke a little off color, I actually appreciate it because that means they have totally gotten past that feeling of awkwardness in discussing the subject. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging wholesale mocking at my expense. But there is a time and a place for a well placed zinger. In fact, if you have been masochistic enough to follow this whole blog series, you’ll know that my wife and I will occasionally banter in an off-color way. Remember she told our kitchen contractor, when he asked us what our timing was on the remodel: “it depends on long he lives.” Recently we joked about the fact that I have a 15-year term life insurance policy that expires in 4 years, and if I was still around when there was only one month left, she should consider her options…
And this past week after I finished my last zapping treatment and received my 2nd “graduation certificate,” I stated that it had better be the last one I acquired. Without hesitation, she quipped “Well, at least it’s not a death certificate.” Love that woman. 🙂
As for the latest update, I’m doing quite well. Virtually no hip pain at this time. The fuzzies must be fried. This week I am awaiting a green light from my onc-doc to resume regular physical activities such as softball and golf. OK, our brand of softball can’t really be considered physical activity, unless of course you’re talking about the elbow exercise after the game is over. And golf? More of an exercise in language control. Especially the way I play. But I gotta get back into the swing for our upcoming trip to Maui.
I’m guessing, at least until I talk with the doc, that no scans will be forthcoming in the near future because the recent radiation treatments would cause my whole body to light up. Guess I’ll live with just being radiant for a while.
OK, 2014 starting off pretty darn good.
Business as usual. Day at a time.