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The Courage to be a Coward

The Friday morning commute to chemotherapy

The Friday morning commute to chemotherapy

My posts are intermittent lately because, I don’t mind telling you, I feel like crap. Truly. It’s getting harder and harder. I just want to admit to you all that I am a coward and I am admitting it, here and now. I tell myself I only have a few more to go. I am ready for some good news. I really am. I tell myself that I deserve it. I did everything right and that means I should be rewarded, right?

But it’s not like that with cancer. You can’t hope that it’s going to ‘be nice’ because you did all the right things. It’s not like a diet, where you eat the right things and exercise and you lose weight. No. There is no telling how this is going to go. I’m in a car, buckled into the back seat, blindfolded and I don’t know the driver. But he’s a drunk bastard.

I was hoping to think about everything tomorrow. To write about Europe, because today sucks so badly. But then I thought maybe I’ll write it out. Get it out, but ya know what? To hell with stress…I don’t believe in it. This thing they call ‘stress’? This is my life. It’s not stress, it’s living.

I was stressed about my pets. All 3 of them, two cats and my dog, they’re all dead. If that kind of stress isn’t enough to just carry you off on a flood of tears, like some Alice in Wonderland version of Ophelia, then stress has sweet fuck all to do with whether or not I am cured.

I hear about stress. I hear about how cancer people shouldn’t be stressed and yet I live in a very stressful house, find myself in the most stressful situations, poor and flooded with paperwork and I’m sick as hell and it hasn’t killed me yet. So…

…Things are going to be different. For better or worse, this kind of stress has reached critical mass and I no longer give a hoot-to put it politely. I am going to start, in the words of Tim McGraw was it?, to “Live Like You were Dying.” I really don’t care for that song, but whatever, I’m there now.

I plan my days carefully while I’m lying in bed. Going to get a cup of tea, not too hot, because it hurts my mouth. Seeing how my drawing goes (not too good-but maybe a different style will come out of this.) My writing…drink tea. Look out the window at summer. It’s here. Listen to the silent house. Just the sound of the fish tank pump kicking in, a bird call. Silence. Cars and trucks driving by. The chickens start a fight. Silence. It makes me wonder why I stressed out. I have nothing to lose. My life is not important. It isn’t even lived lately. And I’ve had such a wonderful, interesting, fulfilling life, with so much love and beauty.

I’ve seen Halley’s Comet rising from the ends of the earth from Joshua Tree Nat’l Monument. Just me and the geeks from Cal Tech, Harvard, MIT and Stanford. I watched it and we drank and danced and THAT alone was a night to make all the rest of my life worth living. Even when the guys from Norton Air Force Base did a low flyover at first light. I thought the frickin’ comet had hit the earth but it was just a bunch of pilots 30′ above our heads in their F14’s. Ha fuckin’ ha guys…very funny.

I’ve seen David Bowie, The Stones, Springsteen and The Who. I saw U2 play on top of the roof in downtown LA and my boss almost fired me when I ran out to see them. I said go ahead, I’ll be back in 1/2 hour. Music, I’ve seen so much good music. I saw Benny Goodman play with Joni Mitchell at the Hollywood Bowl.

I’ve met Steven Hawking and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I met Chuck Yeager! I shook the hand of the man who broke the sound barrier. His hand! I’ve drank with Ann Miller and I still think watching her dancing to Shakin’ the Blues Away from The Easter Parade is one of my favorite tap dance routines.

Ann Miller

Ann Miller

I ate in the same restaurant, at the same time as Fred Astaire, at Ma Maison and almost passed out I was so excited. My blase date was mortified when I forgot where I was and gushed to the waiter. This yahoo, who was supposed to be a sophisticated architect, couldn’t understand why I was so excited to see that little old man (his words!) I ordered a double Mai Tai just to annoy him. In the best French restaurant in Los Angeles and I think our waiter was a fan of Mr. Astaire’s, too. It came with an umbrella and an orchid (a frickin’ ORCHID!? Where the HELL did they get an orchid?)and it was so beautiful that heads turned, including Mr. Astaires, as it came to the table.

I shook Katherine Hepburn’s hand and I’ve eaten dinner with Barry Gordy. I’ve toasted with Milton Berle and made him grin and had a very famous man pinch my bum and laugh when I slapped him. Actually we both laughed.

I’ve been a waiter, a bartender, a postal clerk, a cook, an accountant, a construction worker, a barista, a bouncer, a manager, a clerk and a housewife.

I’ve picketed for unions, marched for civil rights, women rights and acted as escort to women trying to enter abortion clinics. I proudly spit at those evil men who were trying to force women to step into the gutter to get into the clinic. I’d do it again. I’ve been arrested, sorry Donofalltrades, it was for littering and thats another story, beat up and slapped around and not once did I lay down and cry about it. I got up, sometimes dizzy, sometimes bleeding but I got up-and usually went home, cleaned up and went out dancing.

I’ve lived in Hollywood


and in Canal Flats (pop.900)

Canal Flats

Canal Flats

I’ve swam in glacier lakes and oceans and rivers and streams and I’ve jumped bonfires and fell asleep in the desert with nothing but my sand covered lover in my arms.

I didn’t stress out.

I’ve figured out stress management. Just accept that my life is crap right now, it has been for quite a while and I am not going anywhere. The part that I miss? It’s the courage with which I faced my day. Every day I did it. I faced things and I smiled at adversity and all that shit. Courage. I wish I could just scoop some up and eat it. I’d like to roll in it, like it was a glittering silver sand, douse myself in it. I imagine it as a warm golden syrup that absorbs into your skin leaving you glowing, brave, warm and ready to face the world-and the stress it generates.

I don’t have much courage left right now. I just don’t care as much as I used to. That courage I had has seeped away. It has been replaced with some kind of ‘reality’. One that leaves me lying in bed and trying to find the stupid courage to not lie. Not to myself, not to my family, not to my friends. But I’m a coward. I’m so incredibly tired of this. I’ve had such a good life. I need to be done with this and heal and I really really really need a vacation. To gird my loins and marshal my forces and assemble the generals and address the troops.

'Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.' N. Bonaparte

‘Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.’ N. Bonaparte

I want courage to fall in love again.

My hero

I want to have the courage to own a dog again. That will be hard. I really miss Haida. I wish I had gotten him when I was healthy, not like this. I saw him born. I didn’t know what a shitstorm was about to rain down on me. Haida was only 2,almost 2. It was his birthday on June 16th. He loved me. Even when I was sick. He saved my stupid life and I couldn’t return the favor. He never saw the good side of me. He only really knew me when I was sick. I can throw the hell out of a ball. I can run in the sand. I can take him to the Redwood Forest. I could have done all this with him. I could have.



I want courage. This is breaking me.
The courage to face what they tell me. Whatever it is. The courage to face a short life. Or a long life.


18 thoughts on “The Courage to be a Coward

  1. You have every right to feel exactly as you want to. It’s your life, and cancer sucks. I am so sorry about your pets dying. That’s hard to deal with when you’re healthy, but when you’re ill, unthinkable. Hang in there. Lots of people are in your corner, sending you prayers and happy thoughts, Laura.


    • Cancer sucks and so does the treatment. In 100 years people will be saying “They did WHAT?! To cure it?!! NO WAY!!!” and it will be something simple and fun, like you have to hang ten off a big wave in Hawaii and [bing] you’re cured. If only…


  2. Laura, It took tons of courage to write this. You’re brimming with courage. It just doesn’t feel like it right now. Take a step back and look at your life — your name is “COURAGE”! Get up tomorrow, put on some make-up and face the world again. You’re doing it — this thing called courage — and you’re doing it darned good!


    • It was a good life. I was raised right and I have to admit, without my Mom, I couldn’t have done this. She has never stopped for me. She comes to every chemo, unless I can get someone to drive me, which only happened twice, makes all those weird phone calls that my tired brain can’t follow, takes me to the store when I can’t drive…oh boy. My Mom is the one with courage. Truly.


  3. Laura, there’s so much I would like to say to comfort you (in many of your posts) but i lack the words and so i just “like” your posts. I just want you to know that you are the most courageous and motivating person i know, even when you curse, lol… Of course you are scared at times but you always take hold of your life in the end. I believe in the law of attraction and so Laura keep aiming for the positive outcome. You are in my prayers always! Whether we are healthy or sick, we’ve only got one life to live. live yours now. On days that you feel crappy, take a healthy dose of laxatives and let it all out!


  4. Do you know the blogger Ionia Martin at Readful Things? You and she are in the same part of the world, and you might be a big support to one another right now.

    Here’s what I want: I want you to meet that many more of your idols, your heroes, before you’re done. Hell, I want to meet you and give you a big old hug. This blog post is the definition of courage, Laura. xo


  5. Hi Laura, I can only say today to try and be strong. You really seemed to have lived very interesting life and I’m honoured to be able to read bits and pieces about it. xox


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