Handling a grapefruit reminded me that today will be my first Monday without the Monday Chemo Ritual.
Monday Chemo Ritual:
Rush to make tea; offer Patrick some food (even though he won't really eat).
Cuddle Patrick if he's up for it.
Wolf down breakfast, which includes wrangling a messy grapefruit, getting all sticky with juice and getting pulp stuck in my teeth and wondering if I should try having a less time-consuming and labor-intensive fruit on chemo days.
Floss fast. Wash dishes fast.
Rush down two flights of stairs and down the block to the launderette to get laundry started.
Rush to Andronico's for a few groceries while clothes are in the wash.
Rush back to launderette to put clothes in dryer.
Rush up the block and up two flights of stairs to put groceries away and hang up drip-dry laundry items.
Rush to log on to my computer to check email and conduct other miscellaneous business fast.
Rush back to launderette to fold clothes (and perhaps read two pages of the morning paper if the dryer is still going).
Rush up the block and back up two flights of stairs to put laundry away.
Check clock to see if there's time to read another page of the newspaper before we have to leave for our noon (or, occasionally, half-past) chemo appointment.
Gather up Patrick (and unread newspaper) and head off to chemo.
It became like a pilgrimage as the weeks wore on, wending our way across town every Monday, deliberate and careful, cresting the 17th Street hill to regard the panorama before me, as if some omen could be discerned in the cityscape below or the distant East Bay hills regarding Patrick's fate.
But deep within me I knew what that fate was going to be anyway, ultimately.
That didn't stop me, though, from scrutinizing the horizon each time we crested that hill for signs of a miracle, for signs of a tide unexpectedly turning, for signs of a blessing bestowed by a capricious and poorly understood Universe and packeted into the unbounded radiance of the very photons streaming all around us.
Of course, no such sign ever came to view.
No, no need to rush anymore. All that's over for now.
Dare I relax and take my time this morning? Why? For what? To make that pilgrimage "one last time"? Why? The view from the hilltop will be the same; there will be no new signs, it will have nothing new to tell me.
No, it will simply tell me what it has told me all along, every time, week after week: that there is life. It rises and falls in its rhythms, over and over, hour by hour, the way the tides ebb and flow, the way the moon goes light and dark and light again, the way dawn follows dusk and waking follows dreaming. Let it hold you in these rhythms. Let yourself be held by them, within them, right now, for today. For now.