The Big C

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Emily Dickinson Lied
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"Now, if any of you get into credit card debt after I have spent the past hour telling you everything I know about how to avoid it, then shame on you. And do not use your birthday as a PIN number. Got it?"

She feels good. She feels free. She's allowed to be funny again and not just about cancer, but about everything. The space between her life that was and her life that is was filled up with lies, claustrophobic and paranoid. Now it's filled with light.

All Cathy Jamison knows about Qaballah she learned from avoiding magazines at the checkout counter, but there's truth in all mysticism as long as you don't think of it as fact. It's an ability she lost a long time ago, the gift of metaphor; her brother searches for it in garbage bins and the union of opposites but it's there. If she went back to the beginning and looked at her family's history, she'd know the origin of the world:

God was all there was. So She breathed, out, and made a little space in the universe, a little space for light, and life. Tzimtzum, one of the most useful concepts in the history of religion. He breathed out, and He got a little smaller, and then there was a space for light. She realized her existence wasn't the only thing there could be; there could be more things. So He got a little smaller. Breathed out, got down on Her knees.

Addicts know this because everybody knows this; addiction is defined by willful ignorance of this. The truth is that we were always small, we just imagined ourselves large, blotting out the sun, and we fill the rest of the space with lies. We blot out everybody else. It's the only way to stay in control.

It's the reason prayer happens on our knees but it's also the reason drugs are so very excellent. It's why we speak of consciousness-expanding, like that night on the porch with Lenny, when Paul nearly drank their family to death. To make a place for the world is also to make a place for yourself in the world, instead of eclipsing it. To realize you were always a part of things, never alone. To be large is to be lonesome, solipsistic; to let the air out of your lies is to feel the world -- that cold, lonely, dangerous world -- touching you, all over. Holding you in Her embrace.

When the children have left for the day, pleased by this new change in Cathy Jamison, she's alone for only a moment before Paul enters, valiant and dramatic as usual. Doing everything she knew he'd do: The electric shaver in his hand, the shouted promise, Braveheart-like, in the absence of factual knowledge: "IN SOLIDARITY!" he cries, and then begins to cut.

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The Big C

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