If they had told me that my DNA would be sequenced on a daily basis but that that would not stop me from doing hardcore sport.
If they had told me that a blonde salesgirl, with the make-up of a bimbo, would patiently redraw my eyebrows for me, with unusual humanity and elegance.
If they had told me that after seeing a documentary on BBC2 I would take malicious pleasure in depriving the enemy cells of glucose.
If they had told me that my loved ones would all descend on me as one, that they would determinedly raise their affection like a rampart between me and my despair. That their messages would keep on coming and that my budget for eating out would go through the roof.
If they had told me that one Sunday morning, no different from any other, I would have to turn back before I got to my local bar because my legs wouldn’t carry me any further. And that despite my ‘fighting spirit’, I would be incapable of taking the plane to Vienna; but that it would be a small victory to hear, not just once but twice, that the Far Right were not going to get in in Austria.
If they had told me that my mother would put her life on hold for months on end. And that my greatest comfort would come from once more snuggling up in her arms.
If they had told me that I would feel relief at buying a Brazilian wig in town, and that I would then run around in Walmart to check that it didn’t fall off. And that an hour later I would be attending my son’s parents’ evening as if nothing was amiss.
If they had told me that one evening I would be sitting, with the father of my children, in a restaurant and we would be saying to each other, “Should we keep it? Or should we let it go?” But it would not be a baby we were talking about, but my right breast.
If they had told me that my oncologist would reproach me for wanting to live ‘normally’, and that my surgeon would read the wrong notes and tell me that the cancer was still there. But also that I would keep my ability to marvel at all that medical equipment and that I would always be grateful to the two specialists in white coats for managing to slip a metal wire into my chest without taking the smile off my face.
If they had told me that I would not be able to stand having my children around any more, that I would have liked to send them all far away, or even leave home myself, until that phone call from my daughter in the south of France, one 14th of July at 10:36 pm, telling me that she was hiding in a hotel kitchen and that some people had been mown down by a truck.
If they had told me that twenty-three years after almost kissing me on the bus, my husband would lock himself in the bathroom with me, with the children not far away, and that he would shave my head for me.
And if I could have imagined that we would even be able to laugh about it.
Translated by Wendy Cross