Cancer Is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis
Gail Konop Baker
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tiny kitchen table, lighting candles and cigarettes, melting wax over our trembling fingers, wiping tears from each other’s eyes until the sun dared to rise. A hazy year or so later, I met Mike. A button-down-collar guy who’d descended from earnest, puritanical people who taught him if you work hard and play by the rules you’ll get what you want (while my family preached absurdity, debating Waiting for Godot for sport). And even though I didn’t believe in or understand “the rules,” I loved that
place—and we all laughed so hard we cried. “You’ve always been the healthy one,” he says now. “I counted on that, too.” “I’m sorry,” I say, feeling just like I did the summer I turned seventeen and was driving to California with a carload of friends when we got into a bad accident on the south side of Chicago. Everyone was okay but my car was totaled; and all I could think was They were counting on me for a ride and I couldn’t stop apologizing for inconveniencing them. Although I pretty much
his family vacation. He’d been friends with Allison, having met her at my apartment years ago and had stayed in touch with her ex-husband over business. So he drove up to Palm Beach for the night and we all arranged to meet at her ex’s restaurant. It seemed a little odd that we were meeting at her ex’s place, but Allison admitted it was the best restaurant in the area and said she didn’t mind. In fact, she said, she could drop her kids with him for visitation and grab a bite to eat with us.
stands and tries to pull me up by my arm. “We have to take Maddy to camp now.” “What about the life preserver?” I say. “What?” he says. “She needs a life jacket,” I say. “The camp provides them. Remember?” He kneels down again and gently helps me up and this time I rise up and into his arms and he hugs me and says, “You’re going to be okay.” “I’m not talking about me,” I say, leaning into his chest. “I know,” he says, petting my head. “Let’s go.” The whole trip, a trip we’ve taken many
house and couldn’t remember the last time we’d talked about anything other than practical matters. I told him how lonely I was for adult company. For marriage. “Do you know how many women would love to switch places with you?” he said. “Why, because you’re a doctor?” He nodded smugly. “And you’re not getting any younger,” he said. I felt slapped. “I’d rather live with an auto mechanic who lived in a trailer . . . ” I pointed to a trailer park just off the exit, “who talked to me and rubbed my