I have a friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer recently. Compared to this, James’ autoimmune condition (which, for anyone interested, is called Wegener’s Granulomatosis) is a walk in the park. Not because it’s easy to deal with – indeed, when it decides to flare up, walks in the park are out of the question – but because he was diagnosed relatively early. James’ condition is currently under control, in a way that terminal cancer by its very definition cannot be. Being under control means stupidly high doses of steroids and a family life that is often weirdly calibrated. But terminal means going to die.
I have another friend whose road to pregnancy has been long, traumatic and strewn with pain and disappointment. When I looked at the chaos of my home and sighed at the impossibility of ever bringing it to order, I knew that she was looking at it too, and sighing for different reasons. She’s expecting now and barely daring to breathe for fear of dislodging the fragile, longed-for little life inside her. There’s good reason for the fear, but good reason for the joy, too.
Supposing there really was an angel with purple wings, about to come and return my Prince CD and grant me a miracle. Yesterday I was certain I would use that miracle to grant James perfect health. Today I am not so sure. Partly because he’s buggered off to Sweden for an overnight jolly, while I’m trying to manage four children who have four separate commitments, one of which I have to attend, plus an invitation to appear at a local bookshop for the late night Christmas shopping event. And that invitation was an answer to a prayer, and I must – I want to – go. And partly because of this:
Right now, James is well. In fact, right now, he’s probably drinking some fabulous wine and eating a reindeer. I hope so. And I find myself hoping so with a strange intensity. Modern medicine has given him a series of props and treatments that are doing the trick. They bring their own raft of issues, but they are working at the moment. The process of finding those treatments, and the horror he has suffered in the relapses, has either turned him into to man he is, or revealed the depths of character he already had. Either way, we have no way of knowing who he would have been without this condition. And I love him. Him. Not the person he would be if a bit of him was different.
And so, even though I am frazzled and at the end of my tether and not quite sure how the next few hours are going to pan out, I don’t need that miracle today. For today, it’s miracle enough that we met.
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