Friday, April 1, 2016

Love in the Time of Cancer

So great is the power of infatuation or what we might call romantic love that even a dying man or woman might succumb to its torments and delights. Let’s say the end is nigh and a chronic condition has reached a critical level where a patient’s days are numbered. If they’re Catholic, their priest has been alerted and last rites will imminently be read. However, let’s say the knight in shining armor, in the form of a hematologist, or La Cicciolina, in the form of a fetching hospice nurse, saunters into the room. While the senses of the sufferer may be dulled, it’s love at first sight. The dutiful husband or wife who has loyally trudged from doctor to doctor, from one hospital to the next, ever faithful to the beloved whose condition has reduced him or her to being a faint shadow of their former selves, finds his or herself summarily cast off by an invalid who dreams only of escaping into the embrace of what John Donne once described as “Oh my America!my new-found-land.” Love, as we all know, is a temporary form of insanity. It’s nature’s way of creating the idealization which enables sexual attraction to surmount the shoals of consciousness—with its built in reality checks. Now it dabbles with a very dangerous substance which is hope, hope that love will conquer all, and, in specific, debilitation and disease, hope that some romantic agony itself with its diminution of the present and familiar and its “love” for that which has yet to be will metastasize through the body causing the dying and dead to be resurrected from their own ashes. Remember the title of  Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, Love in the Time of Cholera?

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