A Year Ago, Tomorrow
“De Temps En Temps,” by Josephine Baker. That’s what I was listening to. Funny now to think I'd ever forget how it felt, something like that.
Alone and facing my death in a stranger’s beach house, next to a dark, cold, ocean in the dead of Winter.
I ate Dove chocolates and soaked in a warm bath with bubbles to the brim, and listened to “De Temps en Temps,” while lifting a razor to my scalp to finish taking away what hair the medicine had not.
I was not sad, and I never cried. There was nothing left of me to mourn. Stripped away of any pride and all I ever loved, I thought- what was hair, to lose? And after, I just stood there- naked and numb in front of that mirror. I looked over the scars on my body. I rubbed my hands across my bare head and expressionless face. And while I stood there, unrecognizable to myself, I never felt surprised.
They told me a place by the ocean would help to lift my spirits.
I saw a neighbor once, from the balcony. An elderly woman, who brought a chair out to enjoy the sunshine. We exchanged a friendly wave and a few words about the weather.
Once a week on Thursdays, a lady I didn’t know (whose name was Denise) called to check in. I’m not sure why, and I never asked. She led me through a list of questions about cancer and treatment, for a survey it seemed, and shared different resources I might find helpful, which I never wrote down or remembered, but I always looked forward to hearing from her.
On early mornings and some late evenings, I would see a pod of dolphins passing through, just off the shore. Their curved, wet bodies bobbing in and out of waves, shimmering like silver coins at the bottom of a wishing well. From the safe shade of the balcony, my eyes followed them- making guesses as to where they might surface again, until they disappeared into the horizon.
It will have been a year ago, tomorrow. I realized by chance, in noticing the date of a picture I remember taking that day; the day I shaved my head while listening to Josephine Baker.
I remembered just how it felt.
This afternoon, I opened the windows to let the spring breeze pass through my room. The sun filled the walls with a warm, natural light and danced in the green leaves of the hearty philodendron hanging down in the corner above my bed. I laid, twisting a soft curl around my fingers, and listened to the morning sounds of songbirds in the budding trees outside. A year ago, tomorrow. I smiled and thought of the days I knew the sun would come again.