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A Fine Spring Day After Cancer


Someone turned on the spigot and flooded my small town with springtime tourists. They flowed down the sidewalk this morning, smiling and stopping and pointing. The sun was shining and trying to dry out the rain-soaked ground. It was cool, but the dry day was a relief from the weeks of rain we've been having.

I was so happy to have the energy to go downtown and stroll the sidewalks with the tourists. I looked at gadgets in the kitchen store, searched for a journal in the bookstore, bought a sandwich and picked up some chicken to cook for dinner. I tied my sweater around my waist and enjoyed the air as it cooled my face and body. I walked back home through the park and smiled at the crowd of mallard ducks in the pond.

When I was sick with cancer, I couldn't stand crowds. They would bump into me and I would feel a hurt that was disproportionate to the physical touch. I felt both invisible and conspicuous and the bump aggravated both those feelings. I felt conspicuous because I had only one boob. I was sure everyone could tell. I wore lots of layers, sweaters, vests and sweatshirts, trying to camouflage my chest. I achieved a roundness that made me look rather pregnant. This was not exactly what I wanted, but it was the best I could do. I felt invisible because the happy tourists were enjoying the sun and the shops and smells of food wafting from the restaurants. They never smiled at me in camaraderie, and I definitely did not have the aura of a tourist. I resented their happiness. In those days, I was tired and nauseous and just out trying to get a bit of air and exercise and take my mind off of my cancer. I looked more like one of the many homeless folks, shuffling along. I didn't feel happy or like I was visiting a fun resort town. I felt like growling, like one of my cats, hissing and swiping at the offender.

But today, I felt like one with the crowd, flowing along in their waves, enjoying the smells of coffee and damp earth and enjoying the fine spring day.

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