“It’s unusual for a person at your age,” the radiologist said. Hint. When a clinician claims you’re ‘unusual,’ that version of ‘unusual’ can infer many things, from good, bad, funny, ugly, or any combination thereof. “During your last scan, we detected something that requires a second look. Scans detected a 3-millimeter section under the left ulnar styloid bone. It could be nothing, could be something. Regardless, we’ll need to perform a Cat Scan or MRI, depending on your doctor’s request.”

Even with my medical background, I didn’t grasp what had been explained. Honestly, some 30 months ago, I took a somewhat laissez-faire approach to all this, accepting that things would always work out. Twenty minutes later, I was driving home when my doctor’s office called. The resident delivered the bad news the radiologist sidestepped. “We think this might be multiple myeloma.”

“What?” I said in a state of confusion. My core medical training centered on heart attacks, pregnancy and births, stroke, broken bones, compound fractures, back injuries, burns, spouse abuse, child abuse, overdose, gunshot wounds, cuts, severe blood loss, car accidents, trauma, drowning, industrial accidents, nuclear accidents, diving accidents, airplane crashes, fires, extraction, evacuation, and ship-to-shore rescue. Multiple myeloma was not in the repertoire of snappy comebacks.

“‘Multiple’ what?” I replied, drifting off at the information being relayed.

“Bone cancer,” he replied. Pausing for a moment, “Actually, multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. When someone has multiple myeloma, their plasma cells start multiplying abnormally. A couple of common symptoms include bone pain, weakness, and fractures. Frequent urination, confusion, weakness, as severe back pain, leg swelling, weakness, and shortness of breath.”

“Sh____!” catching myself mid sh**. “What about the Parkinson’s diagnosis?”

“Oh,” stating matter of factly, “You have that too. So, there’s a good chance you may not have multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is kind of rare, and we don’t see this in someone your age. However, we’ll need to do more testing. We’ll schedule you for an MRI, some additional scans in other areas, and additional medical tests to verify results.”

Looking out the window during that evening, I remember waking mid-August with bone pain. “My bones ache,” I wrote. “No, it is not muscles. It feels like bones.” Ironically, at the time, I assured myself that the average person might believe this to be symptomatic of bone cancer. I ruled it out. “Remote,” I thought. And since I didn’t have other cancer symptoms, I felt all of this was likely to be osteoarthritis. My laissez-faire moment three months ago was a complete failure, and there was no one to call who could comfort me.

Except for a handful of calls, my cell phone acts like a possum and plays dead. Silence has been the only friend I’ve known. By some standard at work, I am considered inspirational. Outside of work, great friendship has not come to my door. I used to think my previous life was terrible in a lot of ways. Sure I traveled to many countries, but I was rarely home. I missed a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, and funerals. When traveling, I used to say, “I should be home.” At this point, I’d trade those days for these days in a heartbeat.

In the wake of receiving terminal illness, one tries to reconcile what you have and have lost. When entering into binding love and saying ‘I do,’ no one calculates the cost of a loss or their confidence in the future. For instance, I never figured my wife would attempt suicide in September 1991. Suicide wasn’t on my radar. Then again, I never calculated my laissez-faire attitude of the future, “Oh, if something happens, I have faith it will work out.” I’ve seen others create tragedies over a sentimental broken wine glass. A Christmas sweater thrown into the washing machine by an absent-minded family member that ‘pisses’ the hell out of another, and hotel rooms priced at a rate different than booked devolve into screaming at front desk personnel.

When you’re dying, you find out what matters, and at the end of life, only then does one remember those who’ve passed before me. In my previous life, pre-terminal, I claimed to honor them in life, to live anew, and pour ethical living into my soul. Six months later, laissez-faire returns, “It will work out,” I say to appease myself. Of course, there were moments of fulfillment, but I wanted more. Of course, we know what to love, but we bargain for that bigger home, the sprawling driveway, that promotion, the BMW 325i (my dream car for years), that one person who will genuinely make us happy (but never did). Instead of accepting the fulfillment God provided, the future I sought is not the future I now live. I want to move into the future. I want to move on. I just don’t know how.

The future I now reside in is a time when people simply fade. Some say the older you are, the less sparkle you have. But, looking back, that person is me. I lost my sparkle in my mid-twenties. My body is emaciated and requires a cane. The strong bones of my youth have disappeared and given way to a body that is in the beginning process of rejecting its host. I look at all those crisp, clean, sculpted actors on television and stand up, disrobe and exclaim, “Welcome to your future bitch!”

Somehow the universe, maybe my universe, had come undone, and all that remains is this old man. There is no such thing as a finished life. Well, correction: Christ claimed, “It is finished.” Maybe he’s the only one who got it right. Of course Christ got God, and in theory, all of us will inherit the same. But for now, we’re left to deal with all this crap, medical appointments not excluded.

“Central scheduling. How may I help you?” After detailing who I was, providing essential information, requesting appointments for various medical scans and tests, the appointment scheduler said, “Wow, this is a lot. This is so unusual for a person at your age.”