It was there as I stood in the produce ailse, choosing between Honeycrisp and Fuji. The slithering sensation of hopelessness awakening, squirming, squeezing just a little tighter. Again, in the car. I passed a billboard along the highway, advertising a funeral home. Will I choose that one? Will I even choose, or will I let my family decide on those details once I'm gone. Some say it is better for the grieving to have something to do.
It was born (no, hatched, I guess, snakes come from eggs, right?) even before the appointment with the oncologist. Sliding silently into my brain and growing. A lost train of thought here, a forgotten name, a moment when I couldn't remember why I had walked into a room. I went to my family doctor after I couldn't think of my son's name for a full hour. His face was grim. He referred me to "the best cancer doctor in the region", and away we went.
Sometimes it is still and silent, just a heavy weight inside, sleeping between meals. Other times it is wild and angry, thrashing about, biting with venom that dissolves my memories and functioning, feasting on all that is me.
I'm doing chemo and radiation. Poisoning myself and the snake, a marathon race of survival where one will die and the other will only almost die. I find myself subconsciously touching my bald head at times. Not vanity, really, just missing my old look. The snake touches everything.
I am not winning this race. I know it. Sometimes I think the snake knows, too. Not that I'm not trying. Maybe there is another winning.
I chose Honeycrisp, by the way. Fuji is cheaper, but I love the flavor and crunch of the Honeycrisp. I don't know if I'll be able to keep it down. But damn if I'm not going to try.