Proof of Life:

Sometimes, after confronting what many cancer survivors call:

“The Why Question [Phase]”;

I used to stretch my imagination to accommodate the idea that a timeline on death makes things very clear.

It is what I later named one of my favourite paintings after:

Lethal Clarity.

Omondi Ochuka
Lethal Clarity”
50 by 70 cm
Acrylic on Canvass


It all didn’t sum up to that astronomical stretch all at once.

No.

It took some of the darkest periods after my diagnosis. The years that actually killed me. If I say I might have died in 2015, in my heart, I know a lot of deaths killed me. It was the kind that didn’t leave an aftertaste of grief in the savoury of my body, it marked my whole existence with a loss I cannot undo.

I’ve been trying to.

But ā€”.

I guess once the alien crab blooms in your waters, you carry with you the gift of its curse. You may shed a few of its many tentacles, but not quite the stone-written finality of its fate.

I think that a lot of stories end at:

Survival.

Once you beat it, you win.

Even most treatment modules are aimed at a best shot of a cure ā€” remission. Almost as if deserving of a certificate for kicking ass, a heroic moulding into the pillaging journey of surviving a debilitating disease as cancer. Of almost dying but not yet. Of caught early, best results. Of luck and miracles and wishes.

Of good health.

I do know, the lethality of reality, that it ends not. Life post treatment, in the middle, or even after battling cancer and the war drums to a halt. There is no yweyo. You carry your funeral with you.

I always sing about how, for me, life is like strolling the florist pathway shopping for wreath and flowers with my funeral overdue. It’s like, to live, one shares live their own dying as it unfolds.

I don’t think there’s any slight chance at recompense. Maybe some moments when breath allows and every bug seems thrown off. Or those days when I have given up completely and I just wait for it. Those are the moments when I truly find peace with it.

There’s a way a body that has refused to die pains. It has known the other side of fate. Something worse than life, being born. It has broken the fragility of being alive, without contrition. It has burdened the parse with errors and problems and beauty and tragedy.

I know that pain is not pain.

Some pains are fatal. In the swift manner it whisks away life. Or in the grand scheme of craft that it nibbles at the soft and tender budding of life. The way it removes the husk of insulation, the idea that you’re safe and with clarity of the process. And then it eats at you, corrosively, till the trunk falls and the shadows lurk towards a bleak wipe-out.

There are worst fears than cancer. Even the fate of it bloating your health with its ugliness, there’s something worse than that out there.

Life after my diagnosis, through to treatment and the prognosis that were pronounced. To a great deal. That life has been terrifying.

I know that a timeline of death clouds with both clarity and steep gradients of darkness. To know, like it is known when diagnosed, and to not know. Both cut with the precision of a tragic play. You pawn at the stage carrying remorse of surviving, being the one that remains to clamour onto the unknown. Tomorrow it might come. Today it will hedge and rear itself on you.

Time is up.

Finding it distasteful, baptism sinks you into the murky waters of existence and up and out you become a warrior.

Scars are your medals. At fault, your stars are aligned to sift your husk through the fires. Treatments are the quickest way to kill you but also the best possible experience of relief and cure.

It places a noise on your neck, the mental member pulls the pulley back and forth with the gut. It stains your chest with greyness. It prods into the skin and into the bones.

I admit.

I am really tired, lately.

I am tired of keeping on.

My own being alive burdens me, a lot of times.

There’s life, after. I know and acknowledge that. There’s a bit of life, an experience of what it means to bulge into the floor with a dance, while it lasts. There’s what is called hope. There is no doubt absurdity of impeccable proportions.

That sometimes my own silence invites me into trance. To know of whims of becoming alive.

Existence is meager. Soon, the brief dance weathers and milks out, like dandelions poured into the winds. Soon, only frailties of time is left.

In the end, it is the quality of your life that matters.

It will all boil down to one simple question:

Did I live a life that made me feel alive?

Because the truth is there are fates worse than death, life.

In the end, like in my song Our Days of Glory, may all that remains allows me to live my days in love and peace: I wish for love, joy and grace. A care that surrounds me. A casting of touch that my life meant to those it touched, included and moved.

This was tomorrow, yesterday.

Tomorrow we live on.

One thought on “Proof of Life:

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