I'm a big believer in self-delusion. As long as the lies you tell yourself don't hurt or affect other people, then why bother dashing cold water on yourself?
I've gotten some big tests of my self-delusion over the past few years. When my aunt and cousin died in an unthinkable act of violence, I decided to simply believe what I wanted to believe about what happened. There was no way of ever knowing the "truth," so why not keep my own truth close to my heart and feel better?
Last year, when my mother came down with the pneumonia that nearly killed her, I studiously avoided learning about her diagnosis. That information could not help me in any way, but it would provide me with new points of worry, so why not focus on the fact that once Mom woke up, she would fight tooth and nail to get her life back? (Which she did).
Now, I'm faced with another opportunity for self-delusion.
My sweet dad was diagnosed with a glioma last fall. This is a type of brain tumor that is generally slow growing. When we first heard the news, I put it out of my mind. There was no need to worry about something I could do nothing about, and it sounded as though the glioma would simply bide its time for at least a decade. Not enough time, to be sure, but certainly far enough in the future to make it something I could ignore.
Then, in February, a follow-up MRI indicated that the glioma had grown, much faster than originally predicted. The prognosis: one to two years.
When I think logically and rationally about this, I get overwhelmed. So I self-delude. Gliomas are not very well understood. Statistics are meaningless to an individual. If a marathon runner in perfect condition can keel over at 45 and a bacon-eating pack-a-day smoker can make it into his 90s, my dad can beat the odds given to him by doctors who are paid to be pessimistic. This is my truth, and it's how I get up in the morning and get my work done during the day and get to sleep at night.
Back when Aunt Valerie and my cousin Chris died, I naively told someone that I knew any future tragedy would be easier than that one. I lost two people I loved in a terrible way, and anything would be less horrific than the emotions I felt at the time.
I forgot then that time dulls pain, and that different pieces of your heart hurt in different ways when they are taken away from you. Yes, I lost two people I loved back then, but now I'm facing the prospect of losing a parent. It's different. It's not easier. It hurts. I was so stupid to think that losing Chris and Valerie had somehow inured me to loss.
So, I delude myself.
I will not have to face this soon, because my dad is sweet and strong and fiercely loves his family and still has many many years of playing with and teaching his grandchildren ahead of him.
I want Dad to be the one to teach LO how to make his world-famous chili, bacon and all.
I want Dad to be the one to tell LO the story of Persephone the first time he eats a pomegranate.
I want Dad to be the one to introduce LO to the Marx Brothers and The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Magnificent Seven and Diner and Brazil and Baron Munchhausen and Forbidden Planet and Star Trek.
I want Dad to teach LO to say "De gustibus, pencilneck!" when someone insults LO's taste in things.
I want Dad to be a loving, funny, and sure presence in LO's life.
I want all of this for Dad and LO.
I really don't think it's too much to ask.