Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Space Oddity

I feel like a 15-piece puzzle lately. You know? Those flat metal toys with the tiles that you slide around to mix up the picture? Only I cannot figure out how to make my picture whole again, how to get back to being right so I am sliding faster and faster, trying to figure out fuck, how am I supposed to do this?

I am hardly the first person with a parent with cancer, and I don't want this to turn into The Adult Child of a Parent with Cancer Blog, though I will cop to this: when I wanted Bryan to bring up the laundry from the basement for me I said pretty please, my mom has cancer. And then the other day I called him while he was driving home to ask if he could please get me a smoothie, I really wanted a smoothie, my mom has cancer and I love you.

Equal parts dark humor and terrible person with a side of absurd.

I get it from my mother.* Ten+ years ago she had a heart attack and had to have an angioplasty. She was all doped up for the surgery when she grabbed my arm to hurriedly tell me that she wanted me to play David Bowie at her funeral, then she sang as they wheeled her away...

This is major Tom to ground control, I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do...

There is something so hauntingly lonely about that song. And that is what I can't stand most of all. The fact that my mom is scared and lonely. And that there is nothing I can do.

Nothing but slide the stupid tiles to try to make things make sense again, to make the picture whole. Which brings me to this: did you hear about the photo left on the moon?

In 1972, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke took his third and final trip to the moon. While there he left behind a portrait of his family. The photo shows him, his wife Dorothy, and two sons Thomas and Charles posing on what looks like a park bench. And for over 40 years now, that photo (and corresponding boot print) has remained in the same exact spot. In a way, Duke not only took his family to the moon, they never left.
I find this oddly reassuring--beautiful, even--though I can't for the life of me figure out why.


*And my father. But this is a post about my mom. So.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No Title

Me: Guess what?

You: What?

Me: My mom has cancer.

You: ...

Me: ...
My brother, my mom and me, circa 1995.
I could go the factual route, which is somehow easier in its clinical-ness, though some may not be comfortable with the TMI-ness of said clinicality. On Tuesday, February 12 my mom called 911 in excruciating pain and went to the ER in acute renal failure. CAT scans showed a large mass on her cervix...turns out it's malignant...diagnosis is stage 3 squamous cell invasive cervical cancer.

Or I could go the hand-flapping, snot-bubble-blowing sobbing route, which is what I have been choking down since this happened. (Don't hug me! I tell people at work, knowing that I am a back pat away from losing it.) When they wheeled my mom away for the first surgery I bent down to tell her that she is magic and my voice caught on the word. My relationship with my mom has not always been easy but she has always been magic in that I live in awe of her, don't always understand her and love her beyond logic. She held my head as I cried about how magical she is, like a stupid fucking kid crying over unicorns, her body suddenly so light and tiny beneath me.

My mom has always said she is a realist; I call her a fatalist. I don't know what will happen. Fuck that. Yes, I do. I know that I will be there for my mom through this, hold her hand as she deals with whatever treatment she decides on, because I am an optimist, and I believe in magic.

For now I just turn to Bryan out of the blue and say guess what? Because I am trying to get used to it, to wade out from beneath the underwater raw numb place that I have been in for the past week. What? he humors me. My mom has cancer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Very Last First Kiss

I am never again going to have a first kiss. At least I hope not, because I love Bryan and our life together and I don't want anyone else. Though I'd be lying if I didn't say that the thought of never having a first kiss again didn't make me pause. The uncertainty, the butterflies...(but let's be real. I've been with Bryan since we were teenagers. Do adults get nervous kissing someone for the first time? Clammy? Clumsy? I hope so, for everyone's sake.)

My very first kiss was with a boy who had blubbery lips. I wrote it about it eons ago, but it was one of the Petunia-faced posts long-lost in The Great Google Account Deletion Doh! of 2008, so I will recap it quickly for you: 7th grade, 7 Minutes in the Closet. I went to my first boy-girl party and what I remember most is that some girl got her period on the white couch and the boys all laughed while the girls laughed harder. Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma Chameleon, we come and go, we come and go-ooo...someone suggested a rollicking game of 7 Minutes in the Closet even though I was pretty sure it was supposed to be 3 minutes, so I feigned boredom and ate pizza. At the time I was "going" with a boy named NotBob (in that his name was totally NOT Bob but in this age of wwwEveryone'sBusiness I don't want him to find this). Honestly, I had no idea what "going" meant, but I was 12 and just wanted somewhere to go. I was a cool, modern (read: terrified, stupid) 7th grade girlfriend, so I "let" NotBob disappear into the closet with lots of girls that night as I tried to pull off a sophisticated apathy. Of course I was 12, so after an hour or so I relented and let someone push me into the closet with NotBob. In the dark, he reeked of Cheetos and the closet smelled like wool. And then his mouth: wet, too big, tongue, and all I could think was this is it???

My first kiss sucked, as I imagine most do, but my second kiss was with Bryan, yes, Bryan of the til death do we part Bryan. This time I was in the 8th grade. He kissed me up against a chain link fence, me leaning low against it because I was taller than he was. I was wearing his trench coat with the Madness iron-ons and Sharpie drawing of The Specials, and I remember thinking, yes this. is. it.

(Sometimes in my revisionist history I erase NotBob and pretend that Bryan was my first kiss, my first everything, all fireworks and Marcia Brady with Davey Jones if Davey Jones had married Marcia and they had two kids and drove Toyotas. Let's play that game, shall we?)

It wasn't until 22 years later that I had my second first kiss, the exact nomenclature a little awkward. This time it was with Zoey, sweet 17 month old Zoey who clasped my face and kissed me, mama, the best kisser of them all. (Apologies to my husband and NotBob who we agree to agree never happened, yes?)

And now this: Ozzy. My last first kiss, since I am not having more kids and don't want anyone other. Ozzy. He has taken to coming at me with his mouth open, a strategy I hope he works on later in life, but for now--wow. Hot-breathed Ozzy. He kisses me with wild abandon and laughter, pushes his fingers into my mouth to inspect my teeth, puts his face up to mine so that I can taste the joke. With him it is all funny, the way he kisses me as though it is a punchline, an abstraction, guess you had to be there even though I am there, something just between us. My last first kiss, and I am sad.

This is it. Yes. Oh, I know they will still kiss me. I have years left of smooches, comfort, quick kisses hello and goodbye, but this is the last of my firsts. And the beginning of theirs.

Graham cracker breath and milk. Mwah.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4

Sometimes I don't think it was anything that the judge said or our signatures or even the vows, but that cab ride we took down to City Hall that made us married.
15 minutes of us smiling at each other across a torn naugahyde bench seat while being driven too fast down Fulton, giddy and stupid with the promise of it all.

8 years, 2 kids, 4 houses, 6 jobs and 400 Taco Tuesdays later, I look back at these pictures that really weren't taken that long ago and think about how smooth my forehead looked that day. Last night I slept in Ozzy's crib because he was crying, pulled myself tight into a ball and slept that way until morning with no pillow, no blanket. Just me in my robe and our son in his sleepsack, the promise of that cab ride made not good but really fucking great.

Happy anniversary, love.