Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer, Travel]

[travel|cancer] Going home today, various other thoughts

I am flying home from Rio Hondo today. (Well, actually, we are driving from here to Taos to Santa Fe to Albuquerque, then I’m flying home from there. I will be about 17 hours door-to-door in transit.) I have been extremely happy to be here, but it will be nice to get back to a decent amount of O2 in my lungs. At this altitude I am always short of breath, sometimes extremely so. And always a bit fatigued. There has been much critique, much discussion of writing and publishing, a certain amount of writer gossip, some strongly personal conversations, way too much excellent food (if that is indeed possible) and not enough sleep all around.

Ever since the terminal diagnosis I’ve been bouncing around like a superball inside a paint shaker. The Nebs, then here. Now home again. All this busy-ness has kept my fear somewhat at bay, but it creeps in. I am also now scheduled for a CT scan on Tuesday, which always lends its own special terror to my inner life. I’ve been able to forget the fear for swathes of time as I’ve been so immersed in writers and writing culture, but I am afraid.

Very afraid.

Lie awake at night in bed afraid. Burst into tears occasionally afraid.

Most people don’t really want to die. And few of us get to plan our deaths. At least not at my age. Yesterday, talking to my dear friend John Pitts on the phone, he asked what I’d done about planning my funeral. These are the conversations I have these days. Sometimes I despair.

Then I look around, go back to my writing or my friends or a good book, and keep going. I cannot live on fear and despair, and I don’t like giving them power over me. These are my days. I try to spend them well.

Which is what I have been doing here at Rio Hondo, among friends and writing. Spending my diminishing ration of days well.

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