Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tell me Sister Morphine, When You Coming 'Round Again?*

I am sorry to be absent. J~'s illness touches so much of my life - at work, because his office is dark and empty, and yet there are cases that need attention. At home because he is family, and it's impossible not to grieve.

And grieving seems wrong, because he's not gone yet. But the hope - the hope that he will get better, will return, will beat this monstrous cancer - is gone.

I would like to tell you that I lost .2 lbs this week - which was a surprise, all things considered.

I would like to tell you that we had a lovely Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, and that the food was delicious and everyone had a good time.

I would like to tell you that H&L are leaving to bring Ella home and I am thrilled for them. (I would also like to tell you, that while we watched the Super Bowl with H&L, Lana lamented that "this is the last time it will just be us and H~ & L~. This is the last time we will be having fun like this, just us four and them two. Everything will be different now."

And last night, when we met H&L at our favorite Mexican place for a goodbye dinner, Lana came home afterward and WAILED that her life was RUINED because Ella coming home meant that H&L wouldn't want to play Uno with her anymore. Lana really has a special place in her heart for H&L, and she is struggling with the idea that they will be gone for two weeks, and when they go home, Ella will be with them. I have tried to tell her that adding Ella to our dynamic will make things better, not worse. I think only time will prove this to my girl!)

I would like to tell you how much I am loving a new show I have been watching while working out - Sons of Anarchy. So good. I mean, yes, it's disturbing on all kinds of levels, but it's so removed from my own life and experience that's it's escapism on a strange level.

Oh, and lastly, I would like to tell you that I can't stop listening to this song, Lady Antebellum's Need You Now, and that I wonder if the fact that I am listening to country music compulsively says something about my state of mind...


*Rolling Stones, Sister Morphine

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Where the very loud voices of my own fears, Ringin' and ringin' in my ears

I'm not sure how to categorize what I am feeling right now.

I was chatting with MAM the other day, and I asked her if she thought there was a such a thing as "anticipatory grief." She agreed that it was possible.

It's the only way I can think to describe this miasma of emotions.

Husband is at the airport right now, picking up my cousin at the airport. She is J~'s only child.

The decision that she should come home was made in the last 48 hours.

And what we are telling ourselves right now is that it would cheer J~ up to see his daughter.

But in the back of my head, in the dark places where monsters dwell, I hear the whispers that she is coming now, because if she doesn't come now...she may not have a chance to say good-bye.

These are not the things we say out loud.

There is a chance, a decent one, that what has happened this week can be fixed. There is a chance he will go home.

But the realization that we are fighting a losing battle is sinking in. I do not want it to sink in. And to his face, to my aunt's face, to my cousin's face - I am not willing to acknowledge this.

Here in this place, this place where I have always been honest...I will admit that my fears are running rampant over my hope.

I am ashamed that I have stopped thinking in the long term. My hopes at the moment are very short term. That he will walk on the beach again, that he will be able to eat my aunt's sour cherry pie (his favorite) again. That he might sit on his deck with his favorite people and drink a good beer and watch the sunset.

These are small hopes. The big hopes seem like pie in the sky at this point.

I want to tell you that J~ is not despairing, that in spite of everything, he is still laughing. His whole life...he has been joyful. And even now...he is laughing.

I wish I could be more like him.


*Patty Griffin, Nobody's Crying

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Her Hair is Always a Mess*

I took Lana to the mall yesterday to buy some earrings. This Sunday will be six weeks since she had her ears pierced, which means she can change out of her starter earrings.

We found some very cute little roses and turtles that were marked, "sensitive solutions" and got in line to pay for them.

There was a woman standing near the check out counter, who moved to the side when we walked up, presumably to indicate that she was not actually in line.

She was Asian, and my first thought was that she looked A LOT like the woman who played Mrs. Kim on Girlmore Girls. My second thought was, "why is that woman touching Lana's hair?"

I was kind of embarrassed because Lana's hair was a mess, and in my head I was having all these horrible and complicated feelings that this woman was judging me for having an Asian daughter and having failed to keep her hair nicely brushed.

(Honestly, Lana has a LOT of hair, and by the end of the day, it is kind of a mess, and yes, her hair needs a trim, and no, we haven't actually managed to get to the salon in the last couple of weeks.)

Anyway, I was standing there feeling twelve kinds of awkward while this stranger touched my daughter's hair. So, I was surprised when she smiled at me broadly and said,

"Your daughter has beautiful hair. I remember when MY daughter had beautiful hair."

She said this second sentence quite loudly, and the woman in front of me in line turned around.

I realized the girl must be the woman's daughter - a teenage girl with a beautiful face, but who had obviously dyed her black hair an extremely unflattering shade of yellow.

The girl looked at me, she looked at Lana, and she hissed, "Mom, you are embarrassing me!"

At that point, all I could do was laugh. I was so relieved that the encounter was not about me, and not about my daughter's hair, and not about race or ethnicity, but instead a plain and simple universal truth - mothers and daughters will probably always disagree about hair!

* Train, Meet Virginia

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Heart's Like a Wound*

J~ has been admitted to the hospital.

If you are the praying sort, you might include him in yours, would you?

I find the injustice of this disease infuriating. Horrible, wretched people live to see ninety years or more - but J~, a man who is beloved by virtually everyone who has ever met him - is fighting tooth and nail to see 59. It's not fair.

Have you seen those bracelets? Those, "What Cancer Can NOT Do?" It's a nice idea, that poem. The idea that cancer cannot cripple love, cannot corrode faith...right now? I feel like's it's bullshit. This disease? Is eating someone I love alive. And watching that happen? Like a knife to my heart.


*I can't remember who wrote this verse, or what song it is from...I'm sure it's someone brilliant, though.

It was nothing at all, just making me small*

I lost another 1.4 pounds, which means, in my quest to lose 52 pounds this year, I have lost 6.2 pounds! Only 45.8 to go!

This also means I have acheived 12% of my goal. I think. Math has never been my strong suit. (Even when I crunched numbers for a living, it wasn't my best thing. There is irony in there somewhere, I know it.)

We had another Weight Watchers at Work meeting today - I am so thankful that this meeting has started. I feel like I really need the support of the other ladies in my group to keep concentrating on this endeavor.


*Patty Griffin, Blue Skies

Monday, February 01, 2010

Scenes From A Life

First and foremost, I am so, so thrilled for our friends H&L H&L - they have travel approval and they will have their precious Ella in their arms in 20 days!!! Hurray! Four long years of waiting is about to melt away. You can follow their journey at Ella At Last.


At dinner tonight, I watched Lana dip her apple slices in srichacha sauce. I have joked about the fact that Lana puts hot chili sauce on everything, but I have never seen her put it on fruit before. I'm guessing that she will make money in college by betting fraternity boys that she can eat food that is hotter than they can even smell. And she will win.


I had to have some slightly horrifying dental work today. Fortunately, it was relatively quick, but still awful. Even worse, I have to go back on the 11th for MORE horrifying dental work. I swear that deep inside every dentist is sadist trying to get out.


I took Lana to her first dance class last Thursday. I was a bit surprised that the dance studio was surprised to hear from a parent in January, looking to sign a daughter up for dance classes. Apparently, dance classes start in September??? Who knows this? Also, apparently, I am some kind of failure as a parent for having allowed my daughter to reach the age of 7 without having ever attended a dance class. (Am I the only one who feels like there is some kind of super secret club of moms who hold the information about things like when Little League sign-ups start, and when dance classes begin, and I am somehow shut out from this super secret mom club? Maybe I need to know their super secret handshake? Sigh.) The good news, they found room for her in a class and she started on Thursday and she LOVED it. The bottom line is that the child is built like a dancer - tall and willowy and she moves fluidly. I don't know how else to describe it except to say that she put on her leotard and leggings and looked like she had been dancing her whole life...

When I was little, I loved the book, "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfield. (Which, by the way, was made into a movie with Emma Watson (the girl who played Hermione in Harry Potter), but I digress.) ANYWAY, in the book, the youngest Fossil, Posy Fossil, I think - puts on her dancing shoes and dances like she was born to dance. And that's not QUITE how fantastic Lana was, but she was GOOD. I was proud of her.


On Sunday, the alumni associations for the Law School and Medical School of the University from which I graduated had a family ice-skating outing. (Yes, somewhere in that sentence is a fabulous lawyer-doctor-liability joke. I'm choosing to ignore that.) I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun we had. Lana took ice-skating lessons all last winter, but Gabe had never skated and it had been YEARS since Husband or I had gone skating.

I took figure skating lessons for about five years when I was growing up. I was not good at it - I mean, I took the lessons, I learned the basics, and my instructors would wring their hands at my parents and say - "she's never going to be good at this, why are you spending this money?" The truth was the ice-skating lessons (and ballet lessons) were prescribed by a doctor my parents took me to see - a bone specialist at the University of Michigan. I was born with hip displaysia, and when I was five, a doctor wanted to fillet me like a fish on a table, slice me open from ankle to hip, and turn my bones and create deeper, more "normal" hip sockets.

My parents went for a second opinion. Thank god. I remember sitting in the hallway, waiting for the doctor, surrounded by children with tragic bone malformations. Children who couldn't walk. Children who couldn't even sit up. Children twisted painfully. I had worn braces on my legs for several years, but was otherwise unremarkable.

When the doctor saw me, he took me back into the hallway and asked me to run. And I did, rather clumsily, but I did it. He asked me to skip and to gallop. And I did. He turned to my parents and said, "When she was born, they told you she probably wouldn't walk. But today you brought me a child who can run, and skip. There is no point in slicing her open. Make her go to ballet and ice skating lessons. She will never be graceful, but she will be fine."

And so it was that I spent many years as the worst student in numerous ballet and ice skating classes.

The point of this is that, when I stepped on the ice on Sunday, it had been many, many years since I skated. And for a few minutes, I thought that I no longer knew how. And then, I stopped thinking about skating and I just...skated. I think this phenomenon is called "muscle memory" - like riding a bike, your body doesn't forget how, even though you may not have ridden a bike a long, long time.

So, my legs had not forgotten how to skate. I forgot how much I love it - how much I love the feel of my skate against the ice, that little sound that the blade makes every so often as it pushes against the ice, the feeling of going fast. (I am not a fast person, not by any stretch of the imagination. I probably wasn't skating particularly fast, but it felt fast.) It felt like flying. It felt wonderful.)



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