Let me know the news if you have a sec, says Frank in his email. He and Bożena are living in Columbia now. He says the abundant narcotics and fruit there suits them. Before that they lived in China for a while. This time last year they slept in our bed and Andrew and I spent the night on a slowly deflating airbed in our front room. After that I spent a few weeks looking up loft beds online, reluctant to commit to the front room as a bedroom instead of a bike shed. I didn't buy one in the end. Since moving into our house two years ago, the house they'll have to carry me out of in a box, Frank and Bożena have been our only overnight guests. My three-and-a-half-year-old niece asked her daddy a while back if she could have a sleepover in our house. But I don't know where I'd sleep, she said.
What news have I that would mean anything to Frank? We're both well, I say. Because we are.
I tell him that I got a promotion at work and that it was hard won. I appreciate that now, though it was difficult at the time.
I am better for it. I tell him that Andrew ran a marathon and that that was hard too, and wonderful and disappointing and that he's better for it. I sent on a photo of him crossing the line, arms raised in victory, knock-kneed in his too-big shorts, the pockets of which were filled, still, after 26 miles and 385 yards, with chocolate bars and energy gels. He'd been too grateful to the friends who'd waited along the route to support him to refuse them, even though he was unable to eat. He says he wished it had been me waiting on him at every stop. I ran with him on Milltown Road, awkward in jeans and a raincoat, holding his hand. Your bike! he said. Fuck the bike, I said, frightened by how pale he looked, and how sad. The bike was fine. I told him I loved him, let him go, watched him run. When he saw me again on Mount Street my heart lifted with his and then burst when he blew me a kiss and shouted to the thousands lined up at the barriers that he loved me. Aw, said the people to my left and my right.
I'm going to run it next year, I tell Frank.
We used to practice yoga with a woman who lived around the corner and thought that gravity was an arbitrary law. She's living in Australia now. I remember a cold November class where we lay on the floor, swaddled in blankets, silently repeating a mantra of our choosing. Something that meant something to us. I will run a marathon. I will run a marathon. I will run a marathon. I hope mantras are not like birthday cake candle wishes.
I can't run at all at the moment, I tell Frank, I had surgery in mid November. I tell him this in case he'd gotten as far as the line about me running the half marathon in September and hot-footed it to Strava to track my subsequent progress only to see that I've been sitting on the couch watching 30 Rock and eating shortbread for a full month now.
Laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, ovarian diathermy. Did you sign the consent form? asked the surgeon when she called to see me before I was brought to theatre. I did, I said, in between taking selfies in my surgical cap and gown and wondering what would happen if I died during the procedure. Noli timere. Did you read the consent form? she asked. I did, I said. Laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, ovarian diathermy. It says "laparoscopy, hysterectomy, ovarian diathermy", she said. She corrected it and I signed it again. Don't worry, she said, it's not your fault.
The nurse who brought me to theatre took my hand on the walk down the corridor. I thought it was odd, but she was nice so I didn't say anything. I had to wait outside for a bit while the surgeons performed an emergency Caesarian section. I didn't cry until I heard the baby crying. My mother's in the same hospital room now. My dad says we should have a plaque on the door. I'm not sure what it would read.
I don't want to sign off on a sad note. It's been a shitty year of treatments that didn't work and made me mad an occasionally suicidal, I say, but now we're just going to get on with things and maybe register the cats with a local playschool. He'll appreciate my levity. I tell him about our holidays this year, because I know he likes to travel. I like it less as I grow older and that worries me. We had a disastrous holiday in a treehouse in Cornwall, I tell him, though I do not go into specifics. We went to Tenerife, I tell him, and I resist the temptation to explain that it wasn't like that. I send a link instead to my instagram, with an apologetic aside to say that I haven't written much this year but that I've instead taken lots of photos.
I don't have a camera. I browse secondhand SLRs online but, like the loft bed, I am reluctant to commit. I need space for my bicycles, and room to write.