Joshua was a 22 year old virgin set to die within the year. He hated the doctors for filling his mother with hope. There were tests, more tests, CAT scans, MRIs, but none of it mattered. Sometimes, we just know our bodies best.
It took Josh a couple months to come to terms with his cancer, and then a few more to accept death into his life. Like most loving fathers and mothers, his parents wouldn’t let him go. Josh understood this but it did little to assuage his frustration when they assumed an aggressive chemo regiment.
His hair fell out immediately, his cheeks sunk in and his skin yellowed. We look our best in the casket, but here, still alive, Josh looked his worst. He became resentful.
With three sessions of chemo left, he decided to discontinue.
Friends would question his motivations. More insightful observers might suggest that he was preserving his sense of dignity, standing tall against the tempest.
He liked this image and it would become his public justification. But in his private psyche, a more simple explanation emerges. Josh was a cancer man, but still a man, his ego untouched by the coming tide of decay. By ending chemo now, he stood a chance to once again become a man in the game, with a full head of hair, healthy skin, and a rush of eager hormones. At 22, Josh was deeply embarrassed to die a virgin.
This became an important part of his maturation, which is defined here as the ability to fully accept one’s mortality. Josh was still immature in this regard, because his acceptance of death remained conditional. Only if he experienced all of life, would he be ok with leaving it. And to him, supposedly in the prime of his life, sex seemed like the quintessential life experience. This is what all virgins believe, after all.
Of course to Josh, who bade farewell to the meniality of lust the moment his tests came back positive, this ticking need was for more than just fulfillment or curiosity. It was all of it. From the chase to the flirtations, to the anticipation and consummation and potential for disappointment. It was the nervousness and vulnerability. The nakedness. He wanted so badly to know the thrill of waking up to a beautiful female body, rather than to the drip-dripping noise of his IV, the yellow-stained window panes, the smell of ethanol.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart,” he thought, playfully.
To do this, his chemo would have to stop now. Three more to go might as well be thirty more to go. Because like Samson, he was going to need his hair. The last thing he wanted before he died was a sympathy fuck.
For 3 More to Go, see Jessica J.