Words Fail Me.
For the last year I have hardly spoken.
Rarely have I been able to. Participating in a conversation, impossible. With no choice I have learned to listen. But overall this has been frustrating. I can’t answer the phone. I can’t whisper to my wife in bed or shout at a dog, tail wagging and wandering into traffic. Every day I stand in front of a mirror as instructed and dig for my “voice”, which when working is a bull frog in the night, but is mostly the sound of escaping breath.
Buying a loaf of bread is a challenge to both buyer and seller. Especially if there are many varieties of bread on the shelves. I would not want to be behind me, waiting to be served.
I do converse, or try to, without words, like getting into a taxi in Rome. Lots of hands gestures, pointing, etc. Actually it’s remarkable how much basic stuff can get done wordlessly, especially with familiar and sympathetic sales people. I cultivate them. The butchers down the road at HG Walter I consider family. I am sure they consider me part of the neighbourhood. But not perhaps who they want to get too familiar with.
Recently, Daniel, who I hadn’t seen in a while, presented me with a magnificent t pork chop. Good man.
The larenjectomy was on March 6th last year. For some reason I was under the impression, or gave myself the impression, it was not going to be a major deal. I have no idea why I. Repression? Denial? Laziness no doubt. Wasn’t cancer for major organs? But what’s major if not your voice box? Knowing what I know now I’d have come out of the drug induced unconsciousness and stopped the scalpel in Mr Awad’s skilled hand and taken my chances with the cancer option. Sure, the cancer could come back, as it often does…but who knows. As a kid growing up I lived in fear of cancer. The word itself had malevolent power. It had taken our mother, but no-one told us kids what was going on. The word was not mentioned in our presence.
To us it was more than a disease, it was a mystery, a nightmare, and symptomatic of both our ignorance and impotence. It was a sentence of death.
But now I was silently angry, and anger, you’ll be glad to know, chases fear into a corner. But as someone whose career and persona depended on being articulate, someone who could hold a room as my father could, extempore, someone who voice was his VOICE, this last year has been excruciating: a slow death of personality. I have shrunk, I have become and smaller, in all ways. I believe, however, that if I can reclaim my voice I can reclaim myself. So if you see me standing in front of a mirror croaking like Froggie the Gremlin of Buster Brown fame, be encouraging.
“Hi ya, kid!. Hi ya!”