I get an MRI every spring and at the end of each spring neurology appointment, my neurologist offers to show me my scans. Honestly, I don’t especially care. It was cool the first few times, but there are only so many times you can stare at your brain, which, with the contrast is mostly dark since there is limited evidence of disease activity in my brain these days. I look at the scans mostly because my Neuro looks so excited to be able to show them to me and I think it makes him happy to be able to take me on the (same) guided tour of my brain.
This time I asked for a detour. We started flipping through scans, my brain getting larger and smaller, contorting and flipping through vague images until I asked if he could show me my basal ganglia. He paused, told me he needed to change the view, clicked around a few times. In an instant, he was reciting the names of all of them. Caudate, putamen.
The Scotch was right. They are in the centre of your brain, connected to everything else. I did not say it, but I imagine a sort of sadness played across my face. In my own brain imaging I saw the inevitability of Andy’s death.
Today I did a bunch of yard work, some laundry. I read a bit, watched Hamilton. As the day waned, as it gets dark and time turns toward when the US will have fireworks, I thought of 2014. Owen and I went down for the holiday, Andy’s brother Matt was there. We all sat at a dive bar called Jack’s, which was in a town so small I don’t think I could find it on a Map. I’m not sure my GPS knew where it was. Ben was 3, Emma was just shy of her 1st Birthday. It was the trip I became Aunty Smarties.
It was the last time we were all together for a happy thing. I told myself today, as my thoughts turned to that holiday that the cancer would not have been in Andy’s brain. We would not have known that marriages would end, that cancer would take Andy.
Basal ganglia hold more than one secret. Everything is connected to everything else.
It seems to me that in the midst this gigantic celebration of our independence, a very simple truth has been lost: ‘Everything is connected to everything else.’