I haven't looked at myself in the mirror in a long time. Long before I had cancer I stopped looking in the mirror because I was a fat girl and I knew no one would want to look at me, not even myself. Now that I have cancer, I don't like looking at my reflection because I know no one will want to look at me, not even myself.
But I looked today as I dressed to go to the hospital on this desperately cold day to be nuked. I had stripped down of everything. I stood there in front of the long mirror. I look like Jack Skellington from that wonderfully gothic The Nightmare before Christmas. My breast are empty and shrunken, my ribs show, my hip bones are too sharp and I am white (Momma, she's so white. We're white baby, she's dead) except for the bruises that are evident on my arms and legs from the ports they keep trying to maintain for the drugs. The doctor says that if I don't start eating more I will have to have a feeding tube. Damn it, I said no and I fucking mean it.
I dress in clothes that a few weeks ago fit me. Now I have to cinch them around me. I put on my black tee shirt that reads "My giveadammer is broken" I could almost wear it as a dress whereas before it was almost too tight. I snug my silk cap over my head and then pull on my boggan with the skull and cross bones on my head. The silk cap protects my head from being irritated by the fibers of my boggan. I pull on my pleather black jacket and slide my feet into my tennis shoes. I have to wear two pairs of socks now so my feet don't just slide out.
Dressed I still look like a boneyard. I put make up on the other day. I thought I might look more human and all it did was make me look like a tarted up skeleton. Fuck it. I kinda like scaring little kids who stare at me like I'm a freak. Watch it kid, but for the grace of God goes you. Mothers stare at me too, as if I could help it. Fuck you and your little kid lady. What do they want me to do? Wear a canvas bag over my head with eye holes in them and mutter to myself "I am not an animal, I am a human being." If someone hands me another one of them live strong bracelets I'm gonna strangle them.
Yes, goddamn it I want to live. I don't need some over paid, over hyped steriodal bicyclist who dumped his wife the moment she came down with breast cancer to tell me anything about living with this disease and the things it is doing to me. Or the things it did to my husband as he died in my arms, screaming for me to stop the pain. I let him down, I couldn't put him out of his agony and I think he hated me in the end for it. And I wish folks from my church would stop bringing me St. Jude medals, pictures, statues. They all talk about how holy my suffering is. I don't feel holy.
What I am is mad as hell. I hate what is happening to me. I cry when I know it is time for my dad to carry me out to the truck because I know he finds me repulsive. I touched his hand the other day and he jerked away because I look like a skeleton and it creeps him out. My sister is a nurse and hates to come to bathe me in the evening in the bath chair while my mother changes my sheets and puts on fresh ones and lays down the chucks pad in case I wet the bed in the night. Even my sister is disgusted with what I have become and she washes the old, the infirm, the eternally lost in that long goodbye. Maybe it is because she pities me and she knows I can feel the pity rolling off her and it stinks like chemotherapy and radiation sickness.
So, I retreat into the world of the south. I go to Bon Temps and I am courted by a beautiful Vampire who sees me, not as I am but as Other. Sometimes he has dark hair, someimes he is blonde, somes he is not a man but a woman, but they know me because I am like them. Undead, Other, hated and feared.
I won't see myself in the mirror anymore.