Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I can breathe...

The stars were aligned so that I could take the boys to the beach yesterday.  It was hot and the water was warm and, as is always the case in Galveston, brown.  But the wind was blowing.  You could see the faint outline of the moon.  There were flocks of pelicans flying in fluid formation. I tried to get the boys to participate in my wonder.
David:  (frank sympathy) Only grown ups are interested in that stuff.

The boys were more impressed with the profusion of hermit crabs.  We found at least twenty.  Some lived up to their names, but others were more free-thinking and came menacing out of their shells with arms flailing and pincers snapping and I had to scream and fling them back into the water.

I had a good book with me - a page-turner - but found myself needing rest more than distraction.  I sat at the edge of the water for a long, long time and let the wind sweep across my face and the water wash up and down my legs and picked tiny, perfect shells out of the sand and balanced them on my knees.

Chris has had a looming appointment this week - his first chest scan in six months.  I've tried not to actively think and worry about it, but it's been pressing on me, literally, like iron bands squeezing my lungs so that I just can't take in enough air.  But I can breathe at the ocean.  There's something about the bigness of it that soothes me.  It's hard to understand the amount of water I can see, and what I see is just the outer edge, the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean.  It makes me feel, deep in my bones, that there is a God in the world and that the part of my story I see right now is just a fragment of a much, much larger tale.

We saw the doctor today.  Chris' scan was clear.  Deep, cleansing breath of thanks and relief.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When love is not patient...

Even though Chris has a solid, water-tight reason to ask me to fetch him things, it annoys me sometimes.  Pause for a minute and summon some sympathy for him.  He has a very serious, debilitating illness.  He really can't go get his own glass of water, plug in his iPad, grab his crutch that fell, ... and his wife gives him attitude about it.  In fairness to me, though, you should know that because he knows I can't refuse him, sometimes he snaps his fingers at me or adds "Right now!" to end of his request (with a snarky smile).  Then I'm forced to say, "Hey Chris.  Look at this," and I hop up and down on my right foot because when love is not patient, sometimes love is not kind.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The soothing sounds of Jerry Springer...

We were at the hospital a few weeks ago, and I went to the coffee shop to grab a drink while we waited.  It was a weekday, and the shop was crowded.  A Jerry Springer kind of show was blaring on the TV.  Angry people were screaming at one another.  Half the words were bleeped out.  The guy standing next to me was trying to carry on a conversation but kept getting distracted by the noisy show.  After he had looked over his shoulder in exasperation again,
Distracted guy:  (consternation) Why are they playing this show?  Does anybody want to listen to this over their morning coffee? 
Me:  (answering his obviously rhetorical question that wasn't even directed to me) It's actually soothing.  It offers a nice contrast.  My life may suck right now, but at least my husband isn't sleeping with my ex-stepmom.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Keeping it light...ish...

Things over here have been pretty heavy lately.  I've decided to take a week, set aside existential angst and  post something daily that makes me laugh.  It'll be lowbrow, morbid or both.  A lot of it is stuff I've said to make myself laugh, which is at least weird, and maybe worse, but it's healthier than turning to not so recreational drug use, right?

Today's story is from several years ago.  My mom has this necklace with three large pearls strung on a leather cord.  When Jacob was about three years old, he loved moving the pearls back and forth while she held him.  One day, he looked innocently into her eyes and said,
Nana.  I love your balls.
I told the boys that story tonight.  The laughs, especially Jacob's, were totally worth the future embarrassment when someone will inevitably proclaim
in the middle of the grocery store, Sunday school, ...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Everyone is fighting...

Inanity is a particular hazard of suburbia.  Sometimes, especially at kid events, I end up in these frivolous conversations.  I look at this other person and know that there are more meaningful things we could discuss if we could just figure out how to get there.  The problem isn't the other person.  I'm solidly holding up my end of this silly conversation.  We need little Tish from Momastery who proclaimed in the middle of a birthday party full of grown-ups her mother barely knew...
The adults were horribly uncomfortable but the children were just happy for her.  

Maybe I should start blurting out
My husband has cancer and it's so hard to watch him suffer and I'm afraid he's going to die and then I would miss him so much it would feel like someone had vacuumed out my insides and my children might grow up with this gaping hole in their lives and I'm scared they won't know what he's really like because they're just so young - that he puts frozen pizza in the microwave for 3:33 because that's more efficient than 3:30, his eyes light up when he reads an article about something science-y that he's never heard before and that when he knew I was angst-y about having left him alone to run a few errands, he texted me
Can't talk.bRffing all over the place.  It's the swings coming.  I think zombies are real.*
And plus, without him who will check the mail or return Redbox movies on time?

The closest I've come so far is bursting into tears in a crowded elevator.

We've spent a lot of time at the cancer hospital.  While the drive and all the waiting are annoying or excruciating depending on my mood, it's actually a refreshing place.  Even when engaged in surfacy conversation, every non-employee is wearing their truth like a billboard.  They might as well write "I HAVE CANCER" (obvious physical signs or the white hospital bracelet they cuff you with practically as you walk in the door) or "SOMEONE I LOVE HAS CANCER" (standing next to the person with the bracelet) on their foreheads with a black Sharpie.  That little piece of enormous truth "weaves tragic graces" around scenes I would normally misunderstand or miss entirely.**

That sullen tattooed and pierced teenager I passed in the hall is now sitting beside his unconscious grandfather, holding his hand. 
A very well dressed pair of middle aged women is on their way out for some shopping while one of them waits for her appointment with the oncologist. 
The woman who freaks out at the receptionist over the wait time is the sleep-deprived wife of someone who just started chemo in the last week or two.***  Most of her anger really has nothing to do with the situation she's fighting right now.   
The fairly ordinary looking group of twelve or so sitting around a table in the cafeteria on a Saturday is spending part of their weekend paying a lot for parking and eating crappy hospital food in a show of love and support for a very frail, elderly man sitting at the head of the table. 
The two older men having a loud and braggy conversation in the waiting room are lonely.  They're both patients at the hospital, and they're bravely fighting a terrible and exhausting battle and they're doing it alone.  And when one of them made a comment comparing the young lady (I'm pushing 40, but that's a relative term) typing with her thumbs to slide rules back in the day, I probably should have accepted the implied invitation and asked a few questions about how things used to be. 
The guy who's watching a movie on his computer and not using headphones is waiting for a loved one to finish up their chemo treatment.  He probably really needs the distraction and the fact that the noise is annoying is really not that important.   
And one of my favorite scenes I see again and again.  It's an elderly patient helped along by a young, healthy grandchild who could be out doing something much more exciting and less depressing but has chosen this holy work instead.

Those same people are beside me at Starbucks and the grocery store and the pool - it's just that I don't recognize them.
"Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  ****
Even that obnoxious guy who just cut you off in traffic.

* Chris thinks this is unclear, so I'll spell it out.  While this text was somewhat drug-assisted, it was mostly pure, unfiltered Chris, say 5% phenergan, 95% Chris.
** That's right.  I quoted Herman Melville.  You should be impressed.
*** I'm extrapolating a lot here, but my logic is sound.  You only fight the waiting time situation for the first week.  After that, you either surrender, are committed to an institution or lose it in such a spectacular way that they bar you from the hospital grounds.
**** Thank you to my small group leader Taylor for introducing me to this quote.  It's often attributed to Plato, but according to a guy with a believable sounding blog, that would be anachronistic by about 2500 years, and these are most likely the words of a Scottish minister, Reverend John Watson (pen name Ian MacLaren).

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