When I was last at MD Anderson, a couple of weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t packed anything to bring with me to read while I drank the contrast material. They have paperbacks scattered out everywhere to pick up and read and you can keep them as long as you want. When you’re done with the book, you can leave it in any waiting room for someone else to read. I wanted to read something outside of my normal genre. I was looking for a mystery and would have settled for a romance, provided it wasn’t too cheesy.
But the first book that got my attention was one called “The Girl With All The Gifts,” by MR Carey. It was billed as “the most original thriller you will read this year.” I thought it was a mystery. Once I started reading it, I looked on the spine and saw that it was classified as science fiction, which is a genre I have not had much experience in reading. I got sucked in and it served its purpose which was to help the time pass while I waited. The story was good enough.
But I was reading an interview with the author in the back of the book and saw that they called it a post apocalyptic thriller, which, having come through a colon cancer ordeal, seemed oddly appropriate and appealing to me. Because, here's the thing—They asked him why he thought post apocalyptic thrillers are so popular. His answer was this, "...a lot of post apocalyptic fiction uses the sweeping away of the here-and-now to explore the question of what endures. What defines us. In a new world, born in flames or plague or zombie holocaust, what would we be and how would we change? Would we change at all, or would the same framework resurface and continue to control us?"
And now, nearly a year after my surgery, this is where I find myself, exploring the questions of what endures, and what will I be, and how will I change? And of all the books in the library and waiting rooms of MDA, how is it that I picked this one single book, something I'd probably never have read had I not been desperate for something to read, that has this one little nugget in the back that further affirms and defines my current life task?
After a storm, we assess the damage, and we clean up. That in itself is sometimes a messy task. So I'll extend grace and patience to myself as I work my way through the aftermath of the storm. As I work, I will remember, I will tell stories, I will gather up what can be gathered and I will let go of what has been damaged beyond repair.
This passage certainly has had its price, and it took its toll on me. But mostly, when I look back and consider the aftermath and what is left, I am grateful.