Monday, October 31, 2005
She placed a series of pages near the edge before she placed a smallish box before me, and then another across the table where she took a chair. With the scent of wax on the air, I glanced uncertainly at the telltale marigold and green cardboard, and wondered that Crayola should once again wander into my life.
"We are coloring Halloween pictures today!" proclaimed she. I tried to conceal my grimace. I was encased in my depression at the time, and in no mood to play. Taking pity on her pleading eyes, wide and luminous, I withdrew a crayon.
Sounds of rubbing wax filled the room as we scribbled furiously on clean white pages. At the tumult, we waved our finished works and she pouted, "Yours is better! Mine stinks! Thanks a lot!" I huffed in frustration...what did the twerp want from me? This was her idea in the first place...what was I supposed to do?—draw a sucky picture?
No, I wasn't. You've got to nip these things. It will be important for her to know that life isn't a competition, it's about doing the best you can with the ability that you've got. I sat her down and smoothed her brow as I said, "Momma, grow up."
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I wonder if, on October 31st, 1517, when the monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 points of discussion about the current practices of The Church to that wooden door, effectively beginning The Reformation, he realized that people would one day honor it as the day of the dead?
Well, friendlier to some. Today is the day that you get an extra hour of sleep, as opposed to that nasty bout of it in the Spring where you lose an hour. Then, there are people like me, who are unaffected by the extra hour of sleep and simply find themselves with an extra hour to twiddle their thumbs in the morning while they wait for other people to get their snoring butts out of bed.
But, I digress.
Brenda changed most of the clocks around yesterday while she cleaned house. It made for painful tinkering of the brain cells last night as we tried to figure which time it really was, and which time it would be tomorrow at that time, and when is bedtime again? I have all of one clock downstairs, the alarm clock, which I changed yesterday afternoon before meeting up with Sarah, a longtime friend who I fell out of touch with when I moved to North Carolina some three-and-a-half years ago.
I say that I only have one clock in my subterranean loft (as it were) in jest, naturally. There are also the three attractive "tick tock" clocks that are displayed in a tasteful manner around the area. I love them. I love them so much that I haven't allowed them to work in all the months I've been in Wisconsin, having denied them batteries.
However, as I changed the time on the microwave and used a chair to hoist myself up to a clock situated out of arm's reach (back to the aforementioned extra hour of thumb twiddling), I remembered the package of double-A batteries stashed in my drawer. While I think they really did add a little extra life to my underwear drawer, I remembered with great guilt that they had been purchased for the clocks some months ago. I have behaved selfishly. I'm going to have to think of another way to give my underwear the pizazz it craves, for the day has come for the clocks to tell time.
Plus, I figure the ticking will give me a toe-tapping soundtrack during my moments of sleeplessness—and if you can't be sleeping, toe-tapping is the obvious second choice. I see good things coming my way. Hell, if my clocks work correctly now, life can't be too far behind...right?
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I begin feeling the pangs from an oft forgotten sweet tooth the very day Anna posts a picture depicting a gathering of comely tarts. To compensate for the tarts that I obviously cannot have, as they reside on the other side of the Atlantic with Anna and Rob, I eat a raccoon-sized wad of Halloween-inspired cake.
By the echos of my belly's angry gurgles, I'd say it's going to be a long night. Thanks a lot, Anna! Can't you just ONCE make ugly-lookin' food? HUH? :-P
Friday, October 28, 2005
I awoke with a smile on my face that morning. I stretched with feline laziness before rolling effortlessly from the bed. I disengaged the alarm before it had a chance to sound and tip-toed up the stairs to the bathroom. It was four in the morning, and I was the only housemate awake. I gingerly fought with the microwave door to open soundlessly as I prepared blueberry oatmeal, and settled down to my laptop to sip my coffee and write: it was peace.
It is gone now, my peace. That morning, two weeks ago, was the very last time that life felt right.
"It's just so ironic," I told Mom last night as I prepared to face the desolate corridors of my dreams. "I felt like my life was well oiled when this happened...I felt like things were finally clicking into place. I felt secure and happy. I liked my morning schedule and it set the tone for so many happy days."
"So get back to your morning schedule."
I try. I get up and force myself to drink coffee. I keep thinking, "C'mon...you love coffee! Have another cup! Another! Another!" I finish the pot of decaf every morning and wonder what to do next. I try to convince myself that my hyper optimism hasn't gone on sabbatical. I open to a blank page in my journal to write, and I can't stand to see the words that flow when I raise the dam. I'm not ready with the sandbags yet. I update this website, and I find it easier to relay conversations or commercials than to admit that I'm struggling, faltering.
Mom knows. Mom knows and she says, "Maybe the test of your strength is going to be to find humor in life even while it's caving in around you." I feel like I'm hovering over the side of a cliff, and my hands are bruised and busted as they cling to the jagged blades of rock. It hurts to be where I am right now. It's going to hurt a lot more if it's ever going to get better, if I ever get the urge to climb back up.
Perhaps I will need to force that urge. "C'mon...you love the joy of life! Have another look at its beauty! Another! Another!" And, hopefully, the pot will not empty, and I will have no reason to stop. I know the path, but I struggle to comprehend the way.
I put the car in reverse and looked over my shoulder as I began to hit the gas. From the corner of my eye, I saw my mother assume her nauseated pose, with shoulders hunched and head hung low. She reached for her car's supply of small garbage bags, having been placed there for just such a purpose.
I drove home carefully, mindful of bumps in the road, and praying that once she was home, in bed, the feeling would subside. We carried in groceries, Mom stubbornly carrying in too much, and set them on the long chest freezer just inside the door. She braced a palm against the unit and steadied herself. With my mother's typical calm, she shrugged out of her coat and let it fall to the floor saying, "I have to hang that up, but first I feel like I'm going to faint unless I lie down."
The proclamation left me shaking my head in wonder of her strength, and I hung her coat in the closet while she traipsed to her bed. I put away groceries and washed the grapes—the grapes my mother hesitated to get for me because last time she did I ate them in rapid succession all the way through and threw up for what seemed like an hour straight. My stomach is still muttering with it's arrogant bully's Brooklyn cabbie's accent, "...friggin' idiot..."
I took off my own coat and put it away before going to Mom, seeing what she needed, what she wanted me to do. I discovered her on the bed in tears. I knelt at her side and she cried, "I hate that I waste my days with you, feeling like this." I loosened her shoelaces and removed her shoes. She stood, crying still, and said, "I don't know how many days I have with you, I don't want them wasted, I want to be strong for you. I don't want this to be what you remember."
"You are strong for me," I told her. "And you're beautiful to me, everything about you is beautiful, even this. You're fighting by tooth and nail, and it's glorious." We embraced and she continued to cry.
"At least we can be here for each other," she said as I folded down the bedding. She climbed between the sheets and I nodded.
Wasted days...I don't think so. There is no time with my mother that I would dare throw away.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Seeing a situation through someone else's interpretation can be powerful. It can give you an insight that rocks you from your base and leaves you a little unsettled for all the moments following.
As I made mention of in another post, Mom hugged a stranger as we left the cancer wing of the hospital the other day. The woman looked so sad, so fragile, as she came through the bathroom door. Mom stopped mid-sentence and turned to her, asking, "Do you need a hug?"
The woman welcomed Mom's embrace. Mom said she held on with such strength and sobbed a sob that seemed to come straight from her soul before running back to the bathroom. We relayed the story to our pastor today, and he got chills.
"Wow," he said, clearly moved. "In that moment, you were Christ. You were that woman's Christ. God used you as his vessel. You were Christ."
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
These women are gathered together at another woman's house, and there's this huge cake, right? It's covered with a thick mass of chocolate frosting, and your mouth begins to salivate at the sight, even through the medium of the TV.
Then, one of the other women approached the cake and said, "Wow, how many cans of frosting did you use for that cake?" It was advertising Duncan Hines' new larger containers of frosting.
Well, I found it completely unbelievable—not that just one of those mega containers of frosting could cover the entire cake so decadently, but that any woman would take the time to admire that cake during a time when her head could be lowered to cake-level, licking.
Last night a friend tried to talk me out of the void. Unfortunately, I wasn't a receptive audience.
So many heart trembling moments have come to pass in just the last day. Mom couldn't receive her chemotherapy yesterday because of elevated blood glucose levels. We go back today, after she's fasted, to try the blood test again, hopefully receiving more positive results. I felt regret yesterday, a dull throb of pain in the center of my chest.
On the walk back from the cancer ward, a woman exited the bathroom and looked like she was trembling on the edge of tears. Mom, who was talking to Charlie and me, stopped mid-sentence and approached the woman asking, "Do you need a hug?" They embraced and the woman sobbed and mom crooned, "It'll be ok." I felt more of that dull ache in my chest.
This morning, I stumbled weakly from bed to discover that my brother shaved his head in support of Mom. Where, at one time, tears would have welled, I, again, felt only that ache, only that pulsing echo of emptiness. It is as though I have lost my ability to react, leastwise noticeably. In the last several days, I have become a shell.
I'm dried up. How long before it reaches my soul?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Mom is receiving a chemotherapy treatment this morning and Charlie and I are escorting her there. We pray her white blood cell count is high enough to qualify, and we pray that she will have only mild reactions to the therapy if she does.
However, the cupboards are stocked with saltines and instant mashed potatoes...just in case.
She has been telling us that she wants to hit the road at ten til nine today. Charlie asked just now, 8:20, if we were still planning on leaving in a half an hour. Mom milled over the question and sucked in one corner of her mouth while her brow puckered. "Yeah...I'd say a half-hour/thirty minutes."
Charlie and I looked at each other as if to say, "I think more than her white blood cells are iffy."
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