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Monday, October 8, 2012

Ain't Misbehavin' or How Cancer Made a Good Girl Go Bad

I've always been a good girl. At least that's what people used to tell me. As a little girl, I was unfailingly polite, speaking only when spoken to, and doing what my parents told me to do. In school, I was the student who got good grades (actually, I got great grades!), who didn't talk/pass notes/fall asleep during class, and who did her homework without parental prompting. I went to bed at my bedtime, and was dressed and ready for school in the morning. Books were my constant companion, as were a series of spiral, college-ruled notebooks into which I poured all manner of short stories and illustrations during car trips or any other time when, as the good girl, I was expected to be quiet and entertain myself.

As the good girl, I worked hard, but accepted whatever fate had in store for me - no questions asked. If someone stepped ahead of me in line, while I might have cursed them inside, outside, I was a sea of tranquility, patiently waiting, a hard smile on my face. If a waiter placed an undercooked steak in front of me, well I just ate the bits that looked the most well-done - no need in embarrassing the waitstaff and the kitchen! Long line at the Post Office - no worries, I'll just read the New York Times on my PDA while I'm waiting.

Being a good girl meant that I was always on my best behavior, but being polite doesn't always mean being honest. And when a truth like cancer enters your life, being a good girl doesn't seem so important, because, let's be honest, cancer is a nasty little bitch whose face I want to slap every time I see her - no offense. She has brought my dad to his knees in agony, and made him scream in pain while doctors poke and prod at him. For the past month, she has ripped a hole in the blue sky that was my family. And she  has forced me to act in ways that no good girl should - questioning authority, demanding more time, more attention, more options. In short, I may have surrendered my title as good girl, but I am becoming something more, someone different - a good daughter and a good woman.