Why do I smile in my condition? I stopped wondering about this more than a year ago when, knowing to be at the crossroads between Life and End of Life, I decided to continue this unequal struggle. We got to the hospital a la cinco de las tarde, like in the best novels by the genius Garcia Marquez. At eight the operating theatre was ready.
I had waited too much; nobody told me anything, but I understood from the doctors’ glances that things didn’t look good. I almost didn’t breathe anymore. The oxygenation of my poor blood was short on fuel. Very short. I had been having a hard time speaking for some months, if you can call “speaking” the pretentious whispering that only Aiste could understand. The respiration between words had gotten down to one.
To understand this you don’t need to have a degree in engineering. Count how many words you say in between every breath. I remember that at the beginning of the disease I passed an exam in a beautiful place in the hills around Mantova. It was an elementary school that after hours became the “clinic” of the doctor the health authority had sent me to.
Among smocks, toys and the smell of cafeteria I was supposed to do this test I just told you about. If I remember right, the “normal” level of words/respiration is around 12/15. I had eight. One means the end of Life.
You must be asking yourselves: why is this post called “Smiles”, since I haven’t been making you smile at all? Actually the subject seems kind of brutal. After the operation, once I woke up from anesthesia, I went back to my hospital room (I didn’t know it yet, but I was going to spend a couple of months there).
The first thing I did was asking Aiste for the communication device to tell her, like the best Fantozzi, “a bunch of crap”. I hadn’t cracked a joke for months. It was very hard for me, physically and mentally. For those who know me, Marco not wanting to joke, like I wrote in one of the first posts, is like a sea without waves, a forest without trees. Aiste had tears in her eyes.
I’ve learned that Life makes people cheerful and patient, if you’ve not always been this way like me. The disease adds awareness, acceptance and recklessness. This last quality is the best ally for the thousand daily smiles, because, let’s face it, only an inordinate amount of craziness and recklessness can produce a smile in a soul who, slowly but inexorably, sees itself being robbed of the few pleasures left in life.
At the same time, awareness and acceptance are the search engines of the innate survival instinct. You start appreciating the immense details of Life, the nuances that go unnoticed in our hectic daily life.
And you smile.
You smile because you wake up and it’s another day given by God. You smile because you are sure that somebody loves you, and for the interior urge to give someone else love. Because you hear birds sing. You smile because, no matter what, you think. Because you can express yourself, and you tell the whole world that today you’re still here and they will have to stand you. You smile because…
I’d like all of you to find the time to finish in the way you prefer this easy but very complicated phrase, just in thought or writing it down here, as a comment to the post. Everyone of us could discover in himself an unexpected poet, a predictable pragmatist, a hopeless romantic. But I’m sure everyone of us will find a way for smiling. And that’s something, isn’t it?
P.S. Welcome to Achille (I don’t agree with this choice at all…).