In The Weeds: The Battle For My Soul Makes Me Hungry
A few hours ago, I had a procedure to remove a confirmed patch of melanoma from my skin. And despite my best efforts with 50 SPF this past weekend, I was possibly the first person in America to actually show up for skin cancer surgery sporting a sunburn.
This whole cancer saga started several weeks ago when I found an unfamiliar something er’nuther on my lower back. I had a dermatologist take a look at it, and he agreed it looked not too scary but why not cut the sucker off for giggles? I agreed and promptly forgot all about it. About a week later, Pimple Popper M.D. called me and said he had my lab results. Always an inappropriately timed Seinfeld die hard, I said, “It must take a really really big zit, to kill a man! Eh doc?” He responded solemnly with, “It’s melonama.” Record scratch……Tuh huh?
I asked an annoying amount of questions, we went over my odds of expiration vs. life, yada yada yada, and then we scheduled an excision for two weeks in the future (currently…today) to check the margins for renegade cells. And in the waiting time that these last two weeks provided, I thought about many, many things. Okay, not really. Let’s be honest, I thought about one thing. Dying. Specifically, I thought about dying before my goal death age of 81 and how that would suck. Even more specifically, I thought about what would happen after death.
If I am to believe my atheist father, nothing will happen. It will be just like my existence before birth. Blank. If I am to believe my Christian mother, life truly begins after death. It will either be totally awesome or excruciating torture. Forever. Yes, I admit it seems melodramatic to contemplate such big questions over a tiny mole, but it’s not my fault. My parents have literally launched a campaign – a tête-a-tête – for my soul.
As I sit here in my kitchen, the chalkboard is etched with a message from Mom that she left this morning after driving three hours to KC to accompany me to my surgery. It says, “Proverbs 3:56 – In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Concurrently, a book rests on my bedside table that was given to me by my dad last weekend when I took the kids to his lake house for Memorial Day. The title is The Portable Atheist. Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. Hey! It’s never too late to confuse your kids!
They may have divorced 24 years ago, but the tugging for allegiance continues. This ongoing Kramer vs. Kramer has left me in a predictable spot … firmly agnostic. In other words, I can’t commit. Ehhhh….yeah maybe, Mom. Mmmmm, no you’re right, that’s a good point, Dad. I’d have an easier time picking a permanent trashy tattoo to cover my new 8 cm scar. Heart with a sword through the middle? Or maybe a traditional Asian symbol representing health? (Sidenote: While waiting for the dermatologist to skin me like Hannibal Lecter, I noticed he had four Japanese symbols framed in his waiting room. I’m pretty sure they translated to “You’re” “Going” “To” “Die.”)
A few days ago, I realized that two weeks was not enough time to definitively determine the existence of God. Even Descartes took a few decades to form an opinion. All that soul searching had made me hungry. I turned my attention instead to a much more worthwhile contemplation. What would constitute the perfect last meal? I don’t mean the Last Supper for Jesus and his homeys. I mean, my perfect last meal. If I knew I would die tomorrow, what would I eat tonight for dinner? There were several contenders that easily came to mind. 4) My mom’s famous lasagna 3) My husband’s charcoal rubbed prime rib with bread pudding for dessert 2) A bottle of Amarone with a well-matched cheese plate.
And then it came to me … quite simply, and without doubt, in a way that other universal truths surely never will.
Pickled ginger, wasabi, colorful lines of fresh fish on sticky rice, the crack of separating chop sticks, and warm sake in a tiny cup. My soul gets filled with boundless joy, peace and contentment at just the thought of sushi. It is, indeed, the perfect meal.
So while some days I’m tempted to convert to every religion just to cover my bases (a Christmuslibudjewish girl, if you will) and others days I’m convinced that the end is nothing more than lights out, I’m absolutely certain that while eating sushi, I don’t care.