Signs of Daylight

It doesn’t take much. A glimpse of a photograph. A memory springing on me, seemingly out of nowhere. The way the quiet morning wraps around me as I sit at my desk. Whatever provokes it, it brings on a sudden feeling of eternal emptiness. Almost anything can trigger the onset of waves of anguish. Tears abruptly well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I feel the sense of loss so acutely that I think the pain may be physical. Maybe it is. If I were to allow myself to start sobbing, I am afraid I might never stop. Grief never ends. It may hide its face for a while, but when it returns it is just as powerful as it ever was. Sometimes it is temporarily debilitating; for a brief few moments, I can do nothing but weep. Sometimes it is so strong I would do almost anything to make it stop. Slowly, though, its hold on me weakens. But when it hits me particularly hard,  its residue can stay with me for hours. On occasion, days. This morning, though, it is not as overwhelming as it can be. I am grateful for that.


Mi novia searched online for information that might explain why my sleep patterns seem to have changed radically in the last few weeks—why I sleep so much during the day and wake in the middle of the night. She learned that cancer—presumably its treatment, like chemo—can cause such changes in one’s sleep patterns. I have been assuming, for no good reason, that the effects on me of chemo—7-10 days of fatigue after a chemo infusion—would be the only physical effects I would experience. Apparently, that is not the case. As she pointed out, the chemo drugs likely affect the body for the entire period between treatments, but not always in predictable ways. Maybe that explains my weird sleeping habits. I slept for several hours yesterday afternoon, woke for a while, then slept again, then woke, then slept again. I woke up around 2, stayed in bed (and drifted in and out of sleep) until 3, got up for a minute, went back to bed (but did not sleep), and finally got up around 4:15. Getting up at that hour is good for my morning serenity, but if the bizarre sleep patterns are the price, perhaps…oh, never mind.


The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

~ Robert Frost ~


Though I think I am keeping it in check for the most part, I think I have been slipping in and out of depression, especially lately. Cancer treatments notwithstanding, maybe that could explain my deviant sleep patterns. I understand, of course, that my diagnosis of a recurrence of cancer must contribute to how I function and how I feel, but it’s the stuff that accompanies the diagnosis that seems to exacerbate my experience. I have every hope that I will beat cancer again, but I think it’s natural to contemplate “what if” I do not. How will mi novia respond? What about my siblings? The possibility pressures me to take action in updating my will, etc. and to ensure that I have properly established beneficiaries for my financial accounts…but, pressure notwithstanding, I have not acted (with legitimate reasons, but even so…). I sometimes want to bury my head beneath a comforter and forget everything. But that does not help, of course. I must simply allow the depression (or simple anxiety) to pass. I have not devoted enough time and attention to my responsibilities to church, either, which contributes to my sense that I am barely treading water. Some days I want to abandon everything; find a hidden cabin deep in the woods and just vegetate. Skip treatments, skip responsibilities, skip engaging with people. But because that is neither practical nor productive, I claw my way out of that pit and return to what is at least a moderate sense of normalcy. I saw a therapist twice in recent months. For several reasons, she is not likely to be of real value to me. Finding any therapist who both accepts Medicare patients and has an opening is damn near impossible; but not just any therapist will do. I am not quite sure what I am looking for, but might know it if I encounter it. My self-diagnosed depression/anxiety may be off the mark, anyway. And trying to fit therapy in alongside chemo and doctor visits and all the other crap probably would be almost impossible. I think I’ve talked myself out of it. Plenty of people do just fine coping, without therapy; I am confident I will cope, as well.


Every few years I become intrigued by the fact that the design of shirts—especially slip-on t-shirts and similar attire—accounts for relatively minor differences in a person’s body shape. Until I give the matter some focused thought, it seems to me that identical front and back halves of a shirt should fit just fine. But, of course, that is not the case. If I mistakenly put on a t-shirt backwards, its misfit is immediately obvious. But just looking at the garment, I would say it should fit just fine either way. The little physical or printed tag in the “back” of the collar area gives it away, of course. Less obvious is the cut of a seam where the arms attach to the body of the shirt; that clue is sufficient, even without the tag, to identify the front versus the back of the shirt. I am referring here, of course, to men’s shirts. Their design takes into account the fact that the shape of our bodies requires accommodation. The design of women’s shirts must also take into account what I’ll call boobs (breasts, in this context, sounds to me too clinical). But I am not quite sure how that unique bodily attribute figures into shirt design. Perhaps if I had grown up making clothes from off-the-shelf patterns I would not be so captivated by what I periodically find so fascinating. I wonder…does anyone else find this subject intriguing?


I have been at this, off and on, for quite some time this morning. The sky is showing signs of daylight, so it may be time for me to sleep again.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Signs of Daylight

  1. Bev, I truly appreciate your wise counsel. I tend to think and imagine with my fingers, then you react with logic and experience. Thank you! John

  2. bevwigney says:

    Regarding sleep, cancer and chemo. I think you have to keep in mind that the chemo is not just chasing down cancer sells. The more powerful chemo drugs are like a sledgehammer and they are smashing healthy cells as well. That’s why you need to have bloodwork done so often because red and white blood cells can take a real hit. Sometimes chemo has to be paused for a while to allow for someone to build up their blood again. That happened to Don during his platinum line. They don’t like to pause the treatments, but will do so if they don’t think you’re up to scratch. Anyhow, all that to say that sleep, rest, and good nutrition, all matter a great deal during chemo treatments. You won’t be able to judge what you’ll be like after the next or subsequent treatments because it is unlikely that your body will be “back to normal” by the time of the 2nd treatment, etc.. Your body needs all the help it can get to rebound after each treatment. That may mean a lot more sleep, rests, naps, etc.. You may find that you just aren’t up to things. When you’re tired, don’t push it too much. You may have to drop out of some obligations if they feel too demanding. Listen to your body.

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