Her friends assured her that she was nuts to move out now. "Wait," they begged," at least until you're past the chemo!" But she figured if you're living the wrong life, there's no use in procrastinating beyond the wake-up call of a cancer diagnosis. And the cells of her body that survived the poison about to deluge them would be healthier in her new digs in the slightly ramshackle apartment house on Mayflower Ave.
Her new neighbor upstairs was young enough to be her son--his 34 years to her 61--and he made her happy every time she saw him waving from their shared backyard. Clive felt like an answer to her question about how to be. He seemed completely grounded in his own wiry frame and the flesh that connected him to the earth in the present moment. Beyond that, he wasn't interested. She joked with him that she much preferred the idea of losing a few pounds through all of this-- being a thin, bald cancer whippet rather than the puffy obese matron she had turned into. This was from the steroids used to mitigate the effects of two liters of chemo poison pumped into her abdomen through a peritoneal port. Clive looked at her quizzically, his head slightly cocked, like a bird, like a young child, like a woodland creature -- a gesture which may well have existed in an oncology department or even an infusion room, but never tied to vanity or a cynical turn of mind, rather to a dogged endurance and the will to survive.