Today, I did some phone banking for a Senatorial candidate in another state. He’s, to say the least, quite a long shot.
And I’d already worked a full day with chalk on my sword hand inside the sand circle that is the practice of the law. It was cold, and dark, and windy, and pouring rain. The phone bank center was in a part of town where I hate trying to drive and park. And, me, I’m an INTJ. Cold calling strangers in another state and asking them for their vote is not exactly my cup of tea. And, again, this candidate is quite a long shot. But I did it anyway.
Mainly, I did it because I’d said that I would do it. But I’d said that I would do it because I’ve reached a point where I need to take action almost regardless of the results. I am an old woman and I am not going to lie on my death bed reproaching myself nor am I going to fear my ancestors’ reproach.
Let me tell you a story and this one has, I think, caribou dust on it.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 40, I had surgery to remove the tumor and, as was the practice back then, a number of my lymph nodes. The surgeon reported that she’d gotten the tumor out with decent margins and that my lymph nodes were completely “clean.” My primary doctor then sent me to the city’s two best oncologists. One said that I definitely needed to do to chemotherapy. I was young and the cancer was aggressive. Now was the time to kill any errant cells that had broken off and lodged in my bone marrow, brain, eye. The other said that I should definitely not do chemo. I was only Stage 1 and there was no indication that the cancer had spread. Chemo, itself, has not only nasty short-term side effects, but can cause more cancers down the road. I spent hours on line, trying to use my training as a lawyer to figure out scientific articles with words I didn’t know and conclusions I couldn’t understand. I went back to my primary doctor and told her that I was being asked to make a choice that I lacked the training to make and that, if I guessed wrong, I’d die. She said she could send me to a third oncologist whom she respected.
I told her not to bother; I was going to do the chemotherapy.
She sat a moment and then asked how I had made the decision. I told her that I knew myself well enough to know, daughter of a cencurious father, that if I didn’t do the chemo and I had a re-occurrence, I’d blame myself for having “taken the easy way out,” for having been too afraid to do chemo and, so, having caused the re-occurrence. On the other hand, if I did the chemo and I had a re-occurrence, which was a definite possibility, I’d die without reproaching myself, I’d make a good death. I’d know that I’d done all that I could. I would not, to use words I’d read, make an enemy of my own death. My doctor told me that I’d made the right decision for me.
I did the chemo and it was brutal, grueling, awful. And to this day, I’m glad that I did it. Not because it saved me; there’s no way to know that. Maybe I didn’t need it and all that suffering and expense were wasted, or maybe I’ll show up at my next bone scan with tumor cells that the chemo didn’t get. No, I’m grateful because I’ve never spent a moment of the last twenty years reproaching myself for not having done all that I could do. And if I’m dead within a year from a re-occurrence, I’ll have died peacefully, knowing that I did what I could. When it was time to do the Very Hard Thing for Hecate, I stood up for her and did it.
And that’s why, even though climate change may well have gone to far to fix, even though the population explosion may have exploded too fast, even though Trump may destroy democracy, I’m going to keep doing whatever I can. I’m going to be kind to other people. I’m going to wield the law to make the planet cleaner. I’m going to do political magic. I’m going to write a letter to the Electors. I’m going to phone bank for long-shot candidates. I’m going to wake up every morning and commit, again, to being the Witch of This Place. Because this place, like all others, needs a Witch.
Picture found here.