“That shit makes me bat shit crazy. We've got no fear, no doubt, all in, balls out!” Nickelback blared at DEFCON 1, jolting Chrys awake with ass-kicking attitude, exactly as she’d intended.
While every day is technically the first day of the rest of your life, this adage held particular poignancy for Chrys today. During a routine annual checkup last week, Doc Jane had found a lump in Chrys’ right breast and had immediately sent her for a biopsy. Now, eight days after that fateful discovery, at ten o’clock on a Tuesday morning in May, Chrys would receive the results of her biopsy.
Faced with the possibility of a life-threatening illness, initially Chrys had panicked, her mind going to worst-case scenarios and what-ifs. She didn’t, however, spend much time enmeshed in self-pity. All too aware that a foreshortened future may be in the cards, Chrys had shaken off the fear and shock, making a deliberate choice to be passionately present in each moment, determined to wring every ounce of joy from each day.
Confrontation with her mortality left Chrys contemplating her could’ves, would’ves and should’ves, and so she had spent the last several days making a list. In essence, she created a bucket list, and this sunny spring morning in Boston seemed to Chrys the perfect time to begin paring down her regrets and making new memories.
Entrenched in the noisy minutia of the daily grind for the better part of her 30 years, a prospective cancer diagnosis had suddenly and almost violently yanked her life into clear perspective. In the past, there never seemed to be enough hours in a day, but Chrys was committed to slowing down, to recognizing and appreciating life’s simple, everyday blessings. In the past, having often felt restrained by the perception or judgements of others, she wished to become more uninhibited and impulsive, truer to herself and free. She also resolved to life outside her own bubble and develop awareness of those around her. Chrys would make a point to be kind and helpful to others with no expectation of recognition or reward.
With a whimsically burdensome name like Chrysanthemum, Chrys had always been a little different. But now, acutely aware of how fleeting life could be, she would do what she damn well pleased with whatever time she had left. So, from the skin out, Chrys dressed herself in happy: racy black lingerie with sexy garters and silk stockings beneath her favorite Levi’s, a burgundy cashmere sweater, diamond earrings more suited to a dinner party, and risqué black hooker boots. Wearing an eclectic mix of favorites, her waist-length mahogany hair curled and makeup on, she felt sassy and confident—a solid foundation for any day.
Exiting her brownstone, Chrys strolled leisurely toward Alberto’s, already anticipating a sweet and creamy mocha latte, realizing how nice it was to not be rushing to the office this morning, her head down and mind on the many tasks she would need to accomplish. As many times as she’d been there, she’d never truly appreciated the coffee shop’s welcoming ambiance. She smiled as she took in the old-fashioned awning shading the recessed doorway, the window boxes dripping with spicy petunias and deep green ivy, and the wrought-iron benches which provided a lovely place to rest. Chrys simply stopped for a moment. She closed her eyes, raised her face to the sun, and just breathed, basking in the uncomplicated bliss of the moment.
Mocha in hand, Chrys ambled downtown toward the oncology center, appreciating the sensual slide of her stockings beneath her jeans and the staccato click of her boots on the sidewalk. Up ahead she noticed an elderly man slumped on a bench, looking sad and alone, wearing a navy-blue “Korean War Veteran” hat. Surprised at how quickly opportunities were presenting themselves to her, she strode purposefully over. “Good morning, sir,” she said warmly. Smiling genuinely, her green eyes sparkling, she nodded respectfully toward his hat, “I noticed your hat, and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your service to our country.” The old man, peering up at her with watery eyes the color of old denim and warbled, “Young lady, you don’t know how much that means to me today.” Reaching out her manicured right hand to shake his large, once-strong hands, Chrys leaned forward pressed a soft kiss to his wrinkled cheek, murmuring, “I hope you enjoy this gorgeous day, sir.” The wizened soldier proudly straightened his shoulders as he watched the stunning young woman continue on her way, feeling pride for the first time in a long time.
Feeling markedly accomplished and inappropriately cheerful considering the circumstances, Chrys finished her mocha with a last appreciative swallow. Glancing at her iPhone, she noted that in thirty minutes she’d have answers. The waiting had been difficult, and she’d found the combination of imagination and Google to be her worst enemy. The oncology center, a chrome and glass monstrosity, loomed authoritatively across the street.
A frisson of awareness stopped Chrys dead in her tracks when she spotted the startlingly handsome doorman—dark hair, swarthy skin and built like a running back. Like a heat-seeking missile she identified her target, feeling impulsive and unstoppable. With a toss of her lustrous curls, she sauntered across the street, toward the unsuspecting man. Oh, hell yes. After all, she had promised herself to let go of her inhibitions, she thought to herself with a smirk. Everyone should be fortified by a kiss before seeing the oncologist.