Marking cancer (by not marking it)

‘So you’re not going to write about it?’

‘I’ve been writing about it for years. Two whole books of it! Maybe three.’

‘But not to mark your anniversary?’

‘Don’t really want to.’

‘Really? You really think so?’

‘I do, yes.’

‘But your anniversary, come on, the big ten, don’t you want to mark it?’

‘I do mark it. Every day. Every time I write something, whether it’s about my cancer or not, I am marking it. Every time  I get out of bed, every time I go into work, every time I pray, or read something to the end of the article,  or note something down, I am marking it. Just because it is nearly ten years does not mean I have to go over the whole thing again. The person the cancer happened to isn’t even here any more. He left a long time ago, just like the cancer. I am here, breathing, now, not in an emergency ward wondering what is going on. I pay tribute to the person that happened to by making the most of this moment, the fire that I am sitting by, the cup of tea in my hand, my children, my wife. As someone once said, they are my Hawaii, not the memory of what we went through.’

‘You obviously feel strongly about it.’

‘Tell me about it. But it’s not the same as banning it from the house, or making it unmentionable. It is very mentionable, actually. Always will be, in fact. I hold the two thoughts in tension. We can talk about it at any time. But that time is not now.’

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