The “C” Word

classic-embossed-alphabet-blocksYesterday was a big day for this family.  The doctors and my mother decided to stop cancer treatment for her and to turn instead to hospice care at home.

Why is it that you do not know that this monumental thing is happening even though you read my blog all the time, you ask?  Because it sucks.  Cancer sucks.  If I were a bit more colorful with my language (as are some of the best mom bloggers I know!) I would say it f*$%ing sucks a big fat f*$%ing piece of s&!t.  But of course, I’m going for a PG-rating over here.

Cancer sucks.  And I have no way to explain it, to rationalize it or to somehow make sense of why my young, beautiful mother has to go through it.  I have not been able to be grateful for any part of sucky cancer.  I am grateful for this year and a half since her diagnosis and I am grateful for all the moments and time spent together, for the memories and …. blah blah blah. … *heavy sigh*

I’ll let you in on a little secret here:

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!!!

One more thing in my life that I *don’t* know how to do.  People look to me for answers (“Ma’am? You do know the answers, don’t you?”) or for inspiration or for something funny.  Sorry folks, I got nothing.  The “A” word, the “C” word, the “D” word… apparently it is my task to gather strength from *somewhere* (looks up and around the room), to find some answer, and to do *something* with it.  This time, I got nothing over here.  Cancer sucks.  I am angry and sad.  That’s it.

There is a Buddhist meditation technique I learned in the book “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach.  It is called “naming.”  Ms. Brach writes a beautiful story about a man who was beginning to lose his memory to Alzheimer’s (another “A” word. ugh.)  As the man sat down in front of a large audience to lead a meditation session, he suddenly forgot where he was and what he was supposed to be doing.  So he simply bowed his head and began naming all the things he felt and that were going through his mind.  When he raised his head again, the students had tears in their eyes.  They told him that he had taught them more about true mindfulness than anyone else had.

sadness

confusion

pain

longing

floods of childhood memories one after another

wishing I could fix it

angry it is out of my control

angry at God for letting it happen

wondering

searching

trying to find words

where there are none

stinging behind my eyes

tired

aching

 wanting peace with this

wondering when it comes

And with that thought, Hannah walks in with a plate of gluten-free pancakes.  Maybe there is no answer I will find in my writing today.  But pancakes taste good anyway.

Please send prayers, energy, good thoughts to my beautiful mother.  And heck, if you know other people who believe in the healing power of the universe and have access to “prayer chains” of any kind, please share this post and add her to the prayer list.  Her name is Susan.  Thank you.

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Today’s Gratitude List

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Today I am grateful for:

  • The ability to take a “do-over” just because.  When I was a kid playing kickball & baby-in-the-air & all those outdoor neighborhood games in the summer, do-overs were a big thing.  Usually granted as a special privilege to the younger kids, a do-over meant you got to erase the last try, you weren’t really “out,” and you got to try again.  I took my share of do-overs granted by the older, more seasoned players, and when I became the older one, I granted them freely.  Somehow as adults we seem to have forgotten that we’re entitled to do-overs (or more aptly put– “new starts”) in our everyday lives.  Next time you’re not liking the way your day is going, declare a “do-over” and start fresh.  I promise you, it is liberating!
  • Yoga.  Hannie and I have been taking a yoga class together every Sunday for the past few months.  Our teacher Denise is amazing with kids and with her craft– and with me!  Today as we took the “yoga nap” as Hannie likes to call it, I felt the tears well up behind my eyes, ready to release all the tension the weekend had provided me to that point.  I am so grateful for the space and the place and the freedom to let it all go, release the tough stuff to the universe and stretch again.
  • My readers.  Like Moni, who reminded me that what we write and share makes a difference.  I am so grateful for the feedback, you guys!  If it weren’t for you all, I’d have put away my computer this week and called it quits.  But of course, I didn’t.  I’m taking a do-over!

 

What are you grateful for today?  Write it down & share it!

Today’s Gratitude List

 gratitude2-vi

Today I am grateful for:

  • Quick answers & one-word posts.  Okay WordPress Post-a-Week question team, here you go:  My favorite word?  “Beautiful” because to me it encompasses faith, appreciation, inspiration & that awed feeling I get when something brings me joy or gives me a glimpse of a miracle-in-a-moment.  Have I ever lied about my age?  Nearly every day.  Well, I actually don’t *lie* about it, people just never know what to guess & I don’t correct them.  Why?  Because it’s fun.  (And when you get to be as old as I am… *cough* …)  Would I rather be super-intelligent or extremely good looking?  Yes.  And hey, wait.  Are there bloggers on WordPress who aren’t already both?  What would I tell myself 10 years agoRun! 
  • The omelet lady (Mama Sandee) at Whole Foods who graced me with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a ham, mushroom & cheese omelet just when I most needed a smiling face and a protein-laden breakfast.
  • Friends who make it easy to dance.  Those folks in the world who move through life to the rhythm of the universe and enjoy every beat and every step.  I am grateful to be able to twirl & turn & dip & sway with them, especially because I *know* they get me and I get them!

What are you grateful for today?  Write it down & share it!

“Honey, come quick before you miss this…

… it’s time for that show at the house next door!”

(Maude grabs popcorn, pulls up a chair for her spouse Donald to sit with her at the window, and settles down for the latest exciting installment of “Autism Home Rescue:  At Home.”)

The WordPress topic today, in case you haven’t already guessed, is:  Write a story about yourself, told from your neighbor’s perspective.  Oh boy, this should be a fun one.  I’m not sure I wanna know what our crazy household actually looks like in reality to our neighbors (whom we’ll call “Maude and Donald” for confidentiality purposes.)  So for your reading amusement today, I’m just gonna make this one up.  Ever see the movie “The Burbs” with Tom Hanks?  Well, picture kinda like that.  But, um, we’re not axe murderers or anything.

Maude:  “Come quick, I don’t wanna miss the beginning like we did last week.  I was all confused when the mail truck showed up twice in one day and Hannah climbed out the back.”

Donald:  “All right, all right, I’m hurrying.  Did the au pair arrive yet?”

Maude:  “No dear, the au pair left screaming, remember?  There are three new babysitters now.  Or maybe four.  Wait– someone is coming up the walk.”

lara_croft_001Maude & Donald wait and watch as Dacia parks her car in front of the house in Superhero Parking Space #1 at exactly 3:00 pm and glides up to the family home.  Dacia is gorgeous, confident and ultra-prepared.  A behavior specialist and autism-expert-extraordinaire with long brunette locks and a smile that could charm the most hardened criminal, she was brought in after the infamous “window-breaking episode” to kinda clean things up.  Picture Lara Croft only happier, minus the guns and the sarcasm.

Dacia unlocks the door just as Alex’s bus is pulling up.  The bus door opens and

**freeze frame & rotate to the side to see Alex in all his hyperactive, OCD glory in mid-leap flying off the school bus onto the walkway**

Dacia:  “Hey bud!

Alex:  (singing loudly)  “Daaaaashhhaa!” (as he runs past her into the house)

The door closes.  Alex announces “RADIO!” and in about 30 seconds loud gospel music begins pouring through the walls.  (Last week it was country music, the week before jazz and rock.)

Will-Smith-Men-In-Black-383341In the meantime, a black SUV zips expertly into Superhero Parking Space #2.  Cue spy movie background music & slow motion effect as TSS Jack (Wraparound Support Services Guy) exits his vehicle & whips off his sunglasses.  In a flash, he arms himself with all the tools needed for whatever he may encounter inside the Home.  Positive reinforcers in hand, Jack strides confidently to the door.

Alex opens the door:  “Jaaaaaack!!”  (at the top of his lungs)

The door closes again.

Donald:  Those two, they’re like the dream team.

Maude:  I know, right?  Last summer after that cliff hanger episode when the chair flew through the door I was kinda worried.  About time they brought in some extra reinforcements–  hey, who is that?

charlie_s_angels_ii_-_full_throttle,_2003,_drew_barrymore,_cameron_diaz,_lucy_liuAshley arrives and parks in Superhero Parking Space #3.  She’s the newest addition to the Team, beautiful & smart with a calm but fun outlook on life.  Picture Cameron Diaz in “Charlie’s Angels.”

Donald:  That’s the new one, right?  Think she just finished her Agent training at the University Campus downtown.

Ashley enters the house.  Even over the blaring music, Alex can be heard screaming “Ashweeeeeeee!”  Through the windows Alex can be seen zipping back and forth, moving lights and building supplies from room to room.  Before long, construction has begun on the largest Rube Goldberg contraption known to man.  Ping pong balls and marbles bounce around on ramps and spirals, flying from room to room, upstairs and down.  The three superheros move with Alex through the house with the precision of a team of ninjas as Alex screams gleefully “Marble run 3000!  The best marble run ever!  Donnnnn’t touch!!”

Mystery%20machine%20cartoon%20versionThe clock ticks 3:30.  A beaten up little 3/4 minivan swerves into the driveway on two wheels.  Mom hops out and runs up the walk, 27 bags in hand and 15 minutes late as usual.  Alex’s teachers from school, whom we’ll call Kate and Rachel, meet Mom at the door.  Kate and Rachel could be the 2nd and 3rd Angels to Alex’s “Charlie.”

Donald:  I don’t know how they do it, but whoever casts this show has some talent.  Did you ever notice how they all look like movie stars?  That little boy just surrounds himself with gorgeous women.

Maude:  (dreamily)  Mm hmm.. (mutters under her breath)  I kinda like Jack

Mom, Kate and Rachel enter the house.  As the door opens, more screamed greetings followed by Alex announcing “QuesadiwAAH!”

3232_Mexican_PuebloMaude:  Everytime this commercial comes on, I just feel like dancing.  (Maude & Donald chuckle as a lively Mexican theme plays and Alex ticks off the recipe)

*insert scrolling recipe subtitles here*

Alex:  Torteewas, chicken, cheese.  Lettuce shreds.  Salsa.  Beans.  …  Beans??  Dacia, get some refried beans please!  Go to store, get beans, okay?

Dacia:  Okay, bud.  Let’s write the list for Mom.

Alex and Dacia construct the shopping list, which now includes 3 more desk lamps, an 8-pack of lightbulbs, every item in the Mexican food specialty aisle at the grocery store, the “magic toy” (apparently a “classified” gizmo of which no one on the entire team has any knowledge) and gluten free cookie mix.

blue laser beamMeanwhile, Mom, Kate & Rachel conduct a Top Secret meeting in the next room where they are developing plans for the most Amazing Home Program known to man.  Papers shuffle, complex charts and graphs are passed around the table, heads nod.  A nifty 3-D blue laserbeam display hovers above the table for a minute, then disappears.

Kate:  And that.   Is how Alex will load the dishwasher after dinner.

Mom & Rachel high five as big smiles all around radiate an immensely glowing light out through the living room window.

cute_tiara_fairy_princess_poster-p228420657750043199t51d_400The door opens again.  Alex and his Team exit and make their way to the bus stop, then return a few minutes later with Hannah, who wears a diamond tiara and brightly colored princess gown over her school clothes.  They are joined by another Behavior Specialist who looks extremely serious and professional, kinda like an FBI agent.  Hannah carries the 17 new stuffed animals she has accumulated throughout the school day.  She updates Dacia on all the animal stats.

Hannah:  This one is Spot, he’s a dog.  And this one is Sneaky.  Here’s Snow White, Marshmallow, Gigi & Fifi.  Fifi is an ox, but her mommy is a Moose.  They got left in the toy bin, but Fifi climbed to the top– she’s a survivor– ohmigosh, she was so sad because her mom was still at the toy store until I rescued her and took her away from the pig.  Oh– and this one is Grand Central Spacement.  She’s a golden retriever….

Salsa_DanceMom opens the door and The Home Team disappears inside the house.  Lights begin to flash off and on, in a kinda bizarre morse code.  Alex sings, “Ready or not, here I come!” as another voice calls out, “Dinnertime!”  The theme song of “The Incredibles” begins to blend in with the radio, which is now blaring salsa music.  Mom, wearing her own sparkly tiara, can be seen dancing around the living room with Hannah.

A TV announcer’s voice echoes above the neighborhood:

“Will the home team unlock the secret of the ‘magic toy?’  Are there really enough quesadilla fixings to last the week?  Will Grand Central Spacement ever find her mommy dog in the bottom of the toy box?  Tune in next week as we hear Alex say, ‘Mommmm… I love you!’

Maude picks up the empty popcorn bowl and closes the mini-blinds.  She smiles at her husband.  

“Whoever would have dreamed we’d find such entertainment right in our own backyard?”

 

Yikes!

Just realized my last post was one week ago.  Gotta rise to this post-a-week challenge, right?  I’m actually working on some new pieces about our family life and about gluten-free cooking, both of which I’m psyched to share.  But neither of which is going up today.

So… um… 

My life has kinda been turned upside down the last few weeks due to snow.  School closings, delays, blah-de-blah.  My sanity is wavering.  But the good news is Hannie and I have a new soopah-secret fancy-schmancy project we’re working on for you all.  (Stay tuned for details in future posts!)

In the meantime… um… I’ve got nothing else to say.

*** insert blank stare here ***

(what I really need is a Big Daddy-type cartoon in this space I think)

Quick!  Think of a distraction!  Here are two of my favorites photos from the picture archives:

alex hannie

Spontaneous kisses & ridiculous kindergarten butterfly costumes.  A small tribute today to the tolerance & patience of both my lovely kiddos. 

alex n mom