I accompanied my mother to her doctor's appointment today -- THE appointment. The appointment that we were dreading, even though we knew what was to come of it.
As the oncologist flashed her peculiarly inappropriate smile (I call it her "picnic smile" because the woman, brilliant as she may be, is a freaking loonball whose smile exudes sunshine and barbecue while uttering phrases like "last ditch effort" and "less than five percent chance), she calmly, between bites of her roasted wienie (in my imagination) explained that there is nothing more medicine can do for Mom.
I already knew this in advance, but Mom, although knowing deep within this was it, still could not accept that fact without hearing it from the doctor's mouth.
I watched my mother intently as the doctor cheerily rattled off the many facets of palliative care, the whats and the what-to-comes, and with each syllable, my mother's face, which has changed so very much in the last month or so, grew more and more unrecognizable until she took on the appearance of someone else's mother.
Mom has lost so much weight that the once-snug pink pullover shirt she wore today hung loose about her frame, the neckline fluid, sliding off over her left shoulder. I gazed at the nape of her neck as the doctor sang of chemo pills and home health care aides, and was startled by the yellowness of the skin, the slight hump that was never before a part of her bodyscape. I looked at her face again, wondering about the yellow. Her face didn't look yellow, but there was a disquieting artificiality to the tone...I peered harder, focused as much as my pitifully hyperopic eyes could, and realized that she had applied so much makeup, the yellow cast was hidden beneath layers of Cover Girl.
And as the doctor chirruped on about how very strong Mom was, and how impressed she was by what Mom had endured, how she'd seen patients half Mom's age endure much, much less, and OHfuckingBLAHblahblah, I stared at the nape of my mother's neck and thought about what it will be like to live in this world without her.
We are not close, for various reasons, and I still struggle daily with my life experience playing on a perpetual loop, the sights, sounds and smells just as clear as the day they were produced, but she is my only mother, and I love her.
And I have so many wishes that I'd hoped would be granted during our lifetimes, many of which have been waiting patiently since I was a little girl. Those wishes, I now realize, will never come true, but that doesn't stop me from believing in them. Because she is my only mother.
When the doctor left the room, Mom put her head near my shoulder -- not on, near, kind of bowed her head and moved it toward me, and so I leaned in, put my arm around her shoulders, and patted, patted, patted. It felt awkward, alien, and in that moment, I forgot how to feel.
The patient advocate walked in just then, and I, grateful for the interruption, quickly removed my arm. The woman was pleasant, just the right kind of cheerful (no barbecue), and genuinely compassionate. She asked Mom how she was taking today's news, and my mother, perplexed, asked what she meant by that. The woman gently reworded the question, adding "Many people have a hard time coming to terms with this."
Mom didn't answer her, so I spoke up, said "I think this is all still so surreal for her." The woman nodded vigorously and said that that was a "perfect word" for this situation.
And strange lights in the sky, and whispers of goodbye in the dead of night, and laughter around an oval table, puppies, lasagna, and secret journals hidden beneath someone else's bed, the phantoms that visited us both, the angels with no names, the charcoal sketches and pastel ribbons, the houses in suburban tracts, the hope, and one thousand tiny wishes that will always be alive...
My oldest daughter's boyfriend, Adam, is 6'5", weighs approximately 220 pounds, plays bass for an up and coming local hardcore band, and has many, many, many, many (many) tattoos, but that doesn't stop my boy from giving Adam big ol' bear hugs every time he visits.
I wonder if my son imagines that Adam is like a great fairytale giant who has wandered into our Lilliputian land, whose tallest citizen, King Lar (my husband), is just 5'7", and feels that the great giant is lonely and confused, thus needing hugs.
Anyway, today was no exception with the hug, and, as always, I couldn't help but beam like an idiot while watching my darling little guy grab hold of Adam's tree trunk-like leg and shrieking "HI, ADAM! HI! HI, ADAM! Aaaaadaaaam, HI!"
Honestly, the cuteness is just...Beyond. My son looks like a tiny aphid affixed to this tremendously large rocker dude's leg. A wee mite. A minuscule, loud, pesky little sprite who is next to impossible to shake. And Adam stands quite still, awkwardly pats my son on his head, and blushes like a school girl who's just dropped her lunch tray. Too sweet, really.
But what my boy said after giving Adam his usual "hello" hug today was so charming, my teeth clenched, began tingling in that familiar "I must bite something now" way that is both frightening and strangely satisfying, until I did, in fact, bite something (a rubber dinosaur).
He said: "Oooh, Mommy, Adam is so cozy! He's just a cozy, cozy guy!"
Well, I must tell you that the moment veered right, departed Cuteville doing sixty miles an hour, headed straight into Adorable Town, and screeched to a halt in front of Mr. Fluffy Pants Maguire, Mayor of Adorable Town.
I bit the dinosaur in two, yes I did.
FACT: They don't make rubber dinosaurs like they used to.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
If this picture doesn't kick you in the balls, then you have none.
Note the marquee. How fucking priceless is that?
Go here for more amazing shots captured March 19th during a peaceful war protest here in Rochester.
I was watching Hillary Clinton's D.C. speech on CNN this morning, and my boy, who'd been playing on the computer in the next room, piped up with:
"Mommy, are you watching a scary show?"
Now, I don't know why he thought I was watching a "scary show," as there were no shrieks of terror, no theremin, no monster growls or evil cackling -- just Ms. Clinton giving an excellent (I thought) speech regarding her plans for ending the Iraq "war."
I said, "No, honey, I'm not."
A few moments later, he said, "Are you sure you're not watching a scary show?"
"No, baby, I am not watching a scary show."
Well, he obviously did not believe me, as he took the trouble to interrupt his computer game, and walk into my room. He stood there for a moment, then said, "Oh. It's the news. Okay." And as he walked back to the computer, he said, more to himself than to me, "Geez. Sure sounded scary..."
In case you haven't heard, Victoria's Secret has toppled the scientific community on its ear, and perhaps changed life as we know it forever and ever, by way of their brand new "BioFit Bra."
Yes, the BIOFIT bra. Hmmm. Very perplexing, that name. Does "BioFit" mean "biologically designed"? "Bio-friendly"? "Biologically enhanced"? "Bio-Hazard"? (A sure way to keep unwanted gropers at bay.) Or, mayhap, "biogenetically created to infiltrate one's ta-tas, causing said ta-tas to magically lift, separate, and grow to ten times their natural state"?
Not sure, really, but it certainly does intrigue me.
What I've ascertained, however, is that this bra ostensibly enhances one's figure via cutting edge science, wherein the mysterious fibers woven into this ghastly garment have been grown in a laboratory by an evil geneticist named Dr. James D. Foote, best known for his work in the field of bovine mammarology. The mysterious fibers, of which there are two known types (the third is top secret, and may, if revealed, threaten national security), 36-D and 40-D-D, somehow intertwine with human physiology in such a way that alters DNA, thus producing instantaneous metamorphoses of the molecular structure.
Now, if you haven't yet seen the advertisement for this monstrosity, I can only say that it is so mind-bogglingly, stupendously insulting to any woman who has ever grown a pair of breasts, it may just cause those of us with a brain larger than Janet Jackson's nipple to never shop Victoria's Secret again.
Or even worse, put ridiculous images in our heads -- especially women like me, who imagine ridiculous things on a daily basis.
Case in point: While watching the BioFit commercial last night, ridiculous images did abound, images like...
!) A BioCat bra that makes use of feline DNA. Fabulous, really, what with the cute, furry cat heads strategically placed on each cup. What woman doesn't love cute, furry creatures, huh? Never be lonely again! And no boob-freeze EVER! Sure, it may take some getting used to, what with the cat faces eerily outlined though one's blouse (not recommended for use under tank tops), but the benefits outweigh the eerie cat heads. Puuurfection.
?) The revolutionary BioFruit Bra, which, depending on how much the organically grown pump is squeezed, gives the wearer either a luscious melon-like bobble, a perky orange bounce, or sprightly apricot wiggle.
&) The first Victoria's Secret line for men! Gentlemen, you will be amazed and delighted with the BioButt Briefs, made with all natural fibers derived from the wee-tui-tui cactus, which will automatically bond with your gluteus maximus muscles by way of a special epidermal-cacti transference enzyme, so that your buttocks will take on a tight, rounded, almost bulbous richness.
But that's not all! Why not go hog-wild and pair the BioButt Briefs with the sure-to-turn-heads BioTrunk Jock! The BioTrunk is the must-have accoutrement for any man on the make! Constructed with heavy duty pachydermal microbiofibers, this strap-on, breathable cup guarantees comfort, while increasing package size to mammoth proportions.
Oh, I could go on and on, but I won't. I have disturbed even my own self way too much today, so enough. Enough.
I had the most delightful conversation of the semantical kind with my middle daughter, Sarah, and my mother's friend, "J" (the one who is classy and beautiful, but swears like a grizzled sea merchant) tonight. It went something like this:
Telephone: Ring Ring
"J" the Grizzled Sea Merchant: Hey.
"J" the Grizzled Sea Merchant: So, I'm going to be in town Saturday morning, will call when I get settled.
[Delete unimportant chitchat and personal doodads] "J" the Grizzled Sea Merchant: Gawd, remember how thin I was? Gawdjesus, fucking hell, now I'm a goddamned dirigible!
Me: Did you just say, "dirigible"?
"J" the Grizzled Sea Merchant: Yeah, you know, a blimp?
Me: I know that! It's just that I'm a bit stunned that you used the word "dirigible." I mean, how old are you, really? Ninety-seven?
"J" the Grizzled Sea Merchant" [sputtering] Wha...? [laughs] C'mon, what's wrong with "dirigible"?
Me: Dude, if you have to ask, then it's pointless for me to carry on this line of conversation.
After I hung up, my daughter, who'd been listening, asked why I was laughing so hard, and when I explained to her that "J" was using Ancient-Speak, and with NO SHAME WHATSOEVER, she said, "Ooooh! I get it! It's like when Great Grandma Spinelli says 'Davenport' instead of 'couch,' right?"
We then proceeded to roll about the place laughing hysterically at the many examples of Ancient-Speak that have been foisted upon our modern ears by various teachers, grandparents, and an assortment of curmudgeonly neighbors, words such as:
Icebox (Ancient-Speak for refrigerator)
Duvet (Ancient-Speak for comforter)
Post (Ancient-Speak for mail, as in "I'm going to put the letter in the post before three shakes of a lamb's tail!" Parlor (Ancient-Speak for living room) Land Sakes! (Ancient-Speak pertaining to great surprise or disappointment)
And on it went, until we both wept copious tears of pure, word-related joy.
I'm glad. Not because she's my definite pick, but because I'm still undecided.
All right, enough politics for today. I can hardly think straight enough to form one simple, cohesive sentence let alone a political opinion worthy of your eyeballs.
Man, I've been so sick this week. Anyone else going though this lingering cold/flu/parasitic/plague-like/Cthulhu-related bug? Darned thing's been hanging on my buttocks for weeks now. Goes away, comes back worse, goes away, comes back twice as worse. Now it's in my chest something awful, got the fever, the whole shebang. Which sucks, because now I'm too sick to visit my mom, even if I wear a mask (she's neutropenic). If I dare go to the hospital today, I'm afraid the nurses will insist I wear a welder's helmet, and I really can't go there. Dear GOD, not THE HELMET!
Think I'd best stay in bed as much as possible for the next couple of days.
I must be better by Saturday, because one of Mom's good friends, a woman she's known since girlhood, is flying in from Chicago to see her, is supposed to pick me up Saturday afternoon. I must go, come hell, high water, or welder's helmet, I must go. This reunion is incredibly important, and I will make damn sure it happens.
Mom, you see, hasn't exactly been open to visitors (or phone calls) outside of immediate family for many, many months now, and I'm tired of repeatedly telling concerned folks "I'm sorry." Apparently, Mom's friend, whom I will refer to as "J," is tired of being told "I'm sorry," and decided to just barge right in -- and I'm glad she is.
When she and I spoke on the phone last, she said to me "Tell your mother to put on her fucking eyebrows, 'cause I'm coming to see her," which made me laugh. "J," although very classy and beautiful, with the unmistakable bearing of those "ladies who lunch," also has a mouth like a grizzled sea merchant who's been on a bender for five years in a row.
She also said, "Goddamnit, Lori, I'm not going to wait until your mother's lying in a sonofabitching casket." Which made me cry.
ADDENDUM: Speaking of crying, if you didn't see the premiere of New Amsterdam, which aired last night at 9:00 EST on Fox, I strongly urge you to catch the next episode. Seriously, I watch little television outside of documentaries, Lost, American Idol, and CNN, but I was too sick and weak to change the channel after AI ended...Almost makes me glad I'm about an inch from the grave.
"New Amsterdam" is beautifully written, gorgeous to look at, intelligent, thought-provoking, unique, and the lead actor is hot. So is the lead actress, who plays the role of Amsterdam's partner. Enough said (for now).
Another Addendum: Just noticed I used the word "glad" way too many times in this post. You know Ms. Lori is sick when she is unable to make use of various other synonyms.