When they finally tell you what it is, you call and say, “I’ve got the curse.” I’m unsure what you mean, whether this is a reference to an ancient way you referred to your monthly flow. But then you add, “It’s attacked my lymph nodes,” and I stop everything. Sit down. What you mean is there’s little time left, even though that isn’t part of our discussion that day.
I tell you I’ll fly to Naples this Friday, that I need a couple of days to ensure that there is order at work, and at home. I feel grateful I am freelance, a rare, impulsive feeling. More often than not, the freelancing has felt more burdensome; groveling for bookings, at director’s beck and call, haggling costs, fees and expense reports. But now, with the writer’s strike, I feel fortunate. And then, I feel selfish that I’m even considering these trivial things in addition to what you’ve just told me.
The next two days blur, I focus on tasks. Make necessary calls to most of my business connections, and take a hold for a job in August, a month away. Get my unruly hair cut. Weed the garden. Rarely do I let myself feel the magnitude of what is occurring: my only sister is dying. In fact, those two days are filled with an eerie, almost blissful state. My partner, Rodney, is naturally sweet, but he kicks it up a notch, subtly, so he won’t make me feel too awkward, too suspicious. A perfect pink peony from our garden, placed in a crystal vase I gave to him on our first anniversary. He opens the doors to our screened-in porch so I can hear the birds while we enjoy coffee. Even offers to take me to the airport, knowing it might inconvenience his courtroom schedule. I rescind, then book a driver we’d used on rare occasions.
It isn’t until I’m in the back of the limo, the airport looms ahead. Suddenly, I can’t swallow. My throat closes off. I open the window but still, I can’t swallow. I feel the tears splash my face and I know this is going to be unlike any trip I’ve taken.