Before we left for my first surgery, Paul decided that we should just pretend we were going to Murray’s. So we did. I was being grumpy and whiny and he just kept asking me what kind of cheese I was going to get. I picked a stinky one—one that I imagined might get him some looks when he sat with it in the waiting room—and we walked a few blocks down to the hospital.
Before we left for my second surgery, I was less nervous so we didn’t have to pretend that we were going to buy expensive cheese. It was the first snowy day of the winter, which was just right for me. Something I’m never really able to communicate well to people who didn’t grow up around snow is the way it quiets everything down. It quiets a landscape, even midtown Manhattan. People will just shut up and watch snow fall from the sky. I appreciated it that day.
I found out that I had Melanoma in mid-November, a particularly stubborn one—just like the lady it attached itself to—that would not go gentle into that good night. In the midst of the race to Thanksgiving and the cookie-strewn sprint to Christmas, I had no choice but to slow way down to live in this mess. The last thing I expected to feel was calm, but I keep falling into these odd moments of stillness lately. We had tater tots for dinner twice in one week and it was fine. I had to give up the podcast and all my freelance work and it was fine. I had to focus on taking care of myself and it was also fine. I had a little cancer on my face and, damn, do I feel grateful that it was fine.
I haven’t really been able to eat solid foods that well for a while, but I’m proud to report that this has had minimal impact on my calorie intake thanks to buttermilk panna cotta, peanut butter ice cream, and the aforementioned soft cheese. Consider this my official endorsement of buttermilk panna cotta as the best post-surgery food ever. I’ll be down south with my family for Christmas this year and I should be able to chew by then (SMALL VICTORIES), so I’ll have no trouble getting caught up on all the holiday eating and drinking that I’m totally behind on.
I can be private to a fault. My instinct is to retreat in times of crisis, but this time I wanted to put my highly imperfect holidays out into the world. (You’re welcome, Pinterest.) More than ever, this year I’ve felt overwhelmed by gratitude for the care, in its many, varied forms, that I’ve received—the little somethings that keep showing up and insisting that everything is not the worst.