I’ll have to admit that purely for personal reasons, Carver’s “Gravy” is probably my favorite poem. Those few who were reading “In a Dark Time” in December of 2001 will remember that I was diagnosed with throat cancer and told I would be dead in less than six months unless I got immediate treatment, and none of the treatment options seemed particularly good.
No other word will do. For that’s what it was.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. “Don’t weep for me,”
he said to his friends. “I’m a lucky man.
I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don’t forget it.”
I survived throat surgery, learned how to eat again and seem to have totally recovered from the cancer even though the odds seemed stacked against me. Since then, I’ve felt exactly like this. I sometimes think these have actually been the best years of my life, though that’s hard to say because I seldom think much beyond the moment. Though I’m not planning on dying in the near future, I seldom plan beyond that time.
And yet, if I were to die on the way home this Friday I would be happy. I need nothing more than today and today and today. It’s been all gravy.