alleluia

We’re pinching ourselves over here.

Mark and I went in for my three month check today and got unexpectedly terriffic news. My chest xray looks “normal.” Of course, when Dr. Campbell told us this, we said, “you mean that the little ones are gone, but the big one is still there.”

“No, it’s normal.”

“What do you mean by normal?”

“Normal. That it can’t be seen on the x-ray.”

Now, of course, our incredulity went beyond that—-holding xrays up to the light, reading the radiology report for ourselves. Normal. Normal.

My status is considered, “Complete Response” meaning that the cancer has completely responded to the treatment. There may still be a few cells floating around my body, but we aren’t going fishing for them. If it doesn’t show up on the x-ray, it’s nothing to worry about.

So, I’ll stay on the Femara until there is reason not to. I happily called in a prescription refill after our appointment.

Mark and I have continued about our day feeling the closest to “normal” that we have in a good long time. We’re celebrating the good news with a new water heater (getting installed right now) to which Mark will have to run a breaker tonight (yay) and I cleaned up the back yard of Daisy turds and vacuumed the living room (woo-hoo!). We really are “living large.” Because living normally is living large. And we’re doing it with rather stunned looks of incredulity on our faces.

And we’re going out to dinner tonight, too, of course.

In the words of e.e. cummings, “i thank you, God, for most this amazing day.”

And thank you, God, for this little pill…

pill

Zoe’s birthday in photos

First, on her birthday…
schooltreatbikewithgrandpahowtall
Zoe vamps with her popcorn ball school treat. She and Grandpa Turner try out the new bike. And Grandma Turner sees if Zoe is any taller at age 5.

Then, last night, the mermaid party.
zoemermaidtreasurechestcraft
Mermaid photo op. Treasure chest. Craft time.
pinatacakepresents
Pinata wacking. Cake. Presents.

It’s hard to believe, but little miss
cakeshot

the measure of my days

filter ……………………..pill
I could have been a professional worrier. I remember lying awake mentally tallying the hours that I would be away from Zoe for my counseling internship. As I fretted, the hours would line up, accuse me of bad parenting, and assure me that my daughter would be permanently scarred by the days I would be away from her. In fact, I think I worried over those hours a full year before I actually did my internship.

Somehow, living with Stage IV cancer, does not allow for what my mother would call “borrowed” worry. It demands living in the day, if one is to function at all. Suddenly, I measure my days by the date my water filter expires (I’m always pleasantly surprised to have to change it–I made it another three months, yay!), by when I need to fill my pill case (has it been a week already–yahoo!), or when it’s time for me to run out for espresso beans.

It reminds me of a poem that has been shared with us by several dear people in our lives. One friend, Melanie, even put it onto a gorgeous card for me. The poem hangs above our kitchen sink. (Isn’t that where all the good stuff goes?) It is:

Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power–

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

That’s about as far as I can look.

Well, maybe to my next latte, too.

can I have it when…

couragerockThe other night as I was cooking, Zoe was playing in the sink and asked if she could have my courage rock that sits on the kitchen windowsill.
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s mine.”
“How come it’s yours?”
“Because it reminds me to be brave.”
“Why do you need it to be brave?”
“Because I have cancer and sometimes it’s hard to be brave.”
“Well, can I have it when…”
And here is where I brace myself because what’s coming next is what comes next all the time when she gives a friend something or asks to have something of mine it’s always “when you die” or keeping it “forever until you die” or something like that. So I stiffen while I’m stirring at the stove and she says,
“Can I have when you don’t have cancer anymore?”
“Yes, honey, you can have it when I don’t have cancer anymore.”
And I keep stirring. And she keeps playing at the sink. And eventually I go over and kiss her on top of the head. Because I can’t tell her how much I needed her to say that. And kissing her always feels like the right thing to do.

the year of magical thinking

I am currently reading book cover. The Year of Magical Thinking is Joan Didion’s account of her life after her husband’s sudden death. And, though I’m not that far in the book, her only child’s death soon thereafter. So far, I’m a bit bummed that it’s from the library and I can’t underline in it. If I could, I would have underlined this portion this morning. Right before this passage, Didion describes Emily Post’s 1922 ettiquette for grief. Didion then writes,

“[Mrs. Post] wrote in a world in which mourning was still recognized, allowed, not hidden from view. Philippe Aries, in a series of lectures he delivered at Johns Hopkins in 1973 and later published…noted that beginning about 1930 there had been in most Western countries and particularly in the United States a revolution in accepted attitudes toward death. ‘Death,’ he wrote, ‘so omnipresent in the past that it was familiar, would be effaced, would disappear. It would become shameful and forbidden.’ The English social anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer, in his 1965 Death, Grief, and Mourning, had described this rejection of public mourning as a result of the increasing pressure of a new ‘ethical duty to enjoy oneself,’ a novel ‘imperative to do nothing which might diminish the enjoyment of others.’ In both England and the United States, he observed, the contemptorary trend was ‘to treat mourning as morbid self-indulgence, and to give social admiration to the bereaved who hide their grief so fully that no one would guess anything had happened.’”

To me, the expectations of the bereaved that she describes are for all of grief, not just that which follows physical death. Grief also applies to the death of a marriage, a dream, a career, a relationship. The death of the idea that life will turn out the way we plan it. We are expected to bear up, aren’t we? To handle it with grace. To seem as if nothing is wrong.

What if we behaved with one another the way in which Emily Post advises to behave around the bereaved? Didion reports that Emily Post suggests handing the bereaved a cup of hot tea without asking if it is wanted, knowing that, “Those who are in great distress want no food, but if it is handed to them, they will mechanically take it, and something warm to start digestion and stimulate impaired circulation is what they most need.” Would we break this cultural cycle of hustling up grief and shushing the loudly bereaved? Would we sit with one another more? Would we ask the unspoken questions more often? Would we hand over the tea and sit down to really listen?

I have been handed enough tea– –both literally and figuratively– –to know that we would.

If only we could figure out who to hand the tea to…

bridesmaid (OK, groomsmatron) dresses

When Becki and I stood up in Chris and Alison’s wedding (Becki 6 months pregnant with Ramona and Josie), Alison made none of those empty bridal promises of “you can wear the dress again.” And theirs were the only bridesmaid (groomsmatron–Becki and I actually were Chris’ attendants) dresses that did get worn again. Last night, in fact.

Somehow, a giggly conversation with Julie in the teachers’ lounge turned into us attending a school event in Becki and my dresses. Julie is pregnant and Becki’s dress fit her (mostly). And my dress still fit me (mostly). OK, there was a fair bit of masking going on—and trying not to laugh too hard lest we split any seams. Julie put it over the top when she donned her long burgundy cape making her look like she was attending a rennaisance festival in costume. The cape choked her when she sat down which, of course, set off more seam-threatening laughter.

We did have a lovely time. There were even a few students who were not embarassed to be seen with us.

julietash2withstudentsrenaissancejulie