Death threat

death threat

My doctor talked recently about the shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis. “One of my other patients,” she said, “compared it to peacefully mowing the lawn on a summer day and then suddenly being hit by a garbage truck that runs off the road. Where did that come from?” (Amen, amen.) “But it’s not like a murder, or a death sentence. It’s a death threat. Keep that in mind. Nothing can ever be the same afterward, but it’s only a threat, not a sure thing.”


Once more: amen, amen.


To be sure, life itself is a death sentence, last I looked. But most of us manage to keep ourselves blinkered, blissfully looking the other way. Once the word ‘cancer’ enters the conversation, however, things become altogether more serious, and more real. Life becomes far more precious. Those we love become far more precious. Death is a curtain with something mysterious on the other side – maybe something nice, maybe something nasty, maybe nothing at all – but all of a sudden I have very little interest in finding out. I’m far more interested in exploring the things Partner and I haven’t done and seen, the places we still want to go. We used to joke that we’d better travel while we’re both still ambulatory. Now the joke isn’t quite so funny anymore.


Hunger, they say, makes food taste better. Maybe the awareness of mortality makes us realize how sweet the things of daily life are.



And I am lucky: lucky to have had a life full of beautiful things, lucky to have known so many crazy difficult wonderful people, lucky to have traveled to so many places, lucky to have found Partner, lucky to have him with me at this awful time.
Most of all I am lucky to have Partner in my life. I am lucky to have someone to love who loves me back.


How could I ever want to give up so many lovely things?


From A. A. Milne:


“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

6 Responses to Death threat

  1. starproms says:

    Always face up to a bully. It’s the only way. You’re doing fine so far. Yesterday I learned that my son’s next door neighbour has been going through just the same treatment as you. So far so good for him too!

  2. True words. Having been with my mother as she spent days dying, her body working to catch up with her departing spirit, I have a deeper appreciation of life and death and love. My homeopath went to a seminar/meditation workshop on a Hindu method of ‘practicing’ to die. As we learn to breathe for childbirth in a Lamaze class, so apparently one can learn to breathe (HARD!) to help the body to leave. It sounds harsh, “See that snowy mountain? Get going! Climb! That’s where you have to go! Don’t look back at this warm and fuzzy place! Move!” This in contrast to the ways I spoke to my mother, visualizing a green field filled with mountain flowers, a table with her husband, parents, siblings, friends, her dog, all waiting for her. I like my way better. But, I’m with you, not yet. You keep living, loving, noticing, feeling, absorbing, being, cherishing. Hugs.

  3. So true, and I love difficult people, although sometime they are too difficult for me!

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