Saturday, June 26, 2010

D Day Minus 202 (August 18, 2009)

"I can't believe how hot and humid it is." Dad said. You and I trailed a respectful distance behind him making our way to the entrance of Mimi's Cafe.  I trailed even further behind when I had one of my mini panic attacks. You know, the kind where I think I forgot to turn off my curling iron, or can't find my glasses or my iPod. This time, it was about the Mimi's gift card Katie gave Dad and me for our wedding anniversary. I speluncked through my cavernous purse and found it hiding in the side pocket. When I got my racing heart under control, I ran to catch up with you and Dad. 

"I think its over a 100 degrees." Dad droned on about the weather like it made it any cooler.  He didn't shut up about it until he got blasted by freezing cold air when he opened the big double doors to Mimi's.

"That's better." Dad said, actually he almost sang it.  His eyes rolled in the back of his head while he absorbed the cool air through every pour on his body. You glanced over at me and smiled, then started talking about one of your favorite topics -- food.  This time, you assured Dad and me, you'd try the pork chop dinner and  Mimi's Trio: an apple crisp, bread pudding, and a triple chocolate brownie ala mode.  You had to gain the three pounds you dropped during the last round of chemo.

"How many?" the hostess asked.  Instinctively, three fingers on my right hand popped up like a two year just learning to count. "Inside or outside?" She asked. Before I could say anything, Dad piped in with, "inside - it's air conditioned."  On that note, the hostess scurried away and muttered something about a ten minute wait.

We got situated on the overstuffed chairs in the lobby.  We were right under the air conditioning vent, so I nestled up to Dad.  And he shot me a death stare while he wiped sweat off his neck.  I pulled out my sweater buried in my purse and put it on.  Dad shook his head and said, "Nance, you've got to get some meat on those bones."  I tried not to think of the time when I was a sophomore at Granger High School. Coach Shepherd did me a 'favor' just after I'd just finished eating lunch in the cafeteria. He told me I was fat and needed to stay away from junk food.  I told myself to stop thinking about the Coach and thought about getting on the cross trainer after dinner instead. You and Dad were in a deep discussion about the merits of FIFO or first in first out for production rotation, while my battle with the fat demon raged on. 

You kept your promise and ordered your massive pork chop dinner. Dad stuck with salmon and vegetables. And I got the Salmon Nicois Salad, which I totally bungled pronouncing when I tried to order it. Oh, and a really big muffin but the low fat version -- of course. This time we all splurged on drinks, instead of water, which we usually got because it was a healthier choice.  Dad got plain iced tea.  You got fruit punch. And I got Diet Coke.  They all came in the standard industrial sized gold plastic tumblers and unlimited refills.

During dinner, we teased Dad about getting shorter and me getting taller. We talked about you coming up to speed in the bakery at Wegmans. We laughed about how you beat the odds about losing your hair.  We talked about how lucky you were that you didn't lose too much weight and that you felt good.  After we finished our meals, I was too stuffed to eat anymore and asked to have my muffin put in a box to go.  You and Dad started Round 2: dessert.  Dad got some pie and you stuck to your promise about Mama's Trio.

While we waited for dessert, you lifted up your industrial size tumbler, and said, "To Mom and Dad." We clinked our tumblers and nodded to each other. I squeezed Dad's knee and added, "To not killing each other after twenty-seven years."  Then I laughed my naughty evil laugh and kissed Dad. And hoped, you'd get the chance to torture Katie after twenty seven years of marriage.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

D Day Minus 204 (August 16, 2009)

I hoped you'd call me all morning.  And you finally did around 10:30.  I didn't care that I was in the middle of the corpse pose on the hardest workout on my Bryan Kest Yoga DVD. I wanted to hear your voice.

We talked about how Morgan wanted me to start P90X , but I wasn't ready to make the commitment to Tony Horton.  You told me to take my time and start when I was ready.  You hoped your new Wegmans shirts would come in the mail in the next couple of days, so you wouldn't have to do laundry as much. 

You were excited about having the day off and rattled off your to do list:
  • go to Wegmans and pick up groceries so you could cook Katie dinner,
  • maybe watch your Harry Potter movies,
  • do laundry so you had clean clothes for work tomorrow,
  • get some lunch that had a lot of calories so you could get your weight back up to 155 pounds, and 
  • harvest some crops on Farmville on Facebook so you could beat Katie. 
Apparently,  Katie sucked you into the Farmville vortex.  Earlier in the week, my Facebook Headlines were littered with your Farmville antics. Who would have thought you'd have any energy left to plant crops, raise pigs, help out your neighbor  --  let alone spy and poke fun at your cousins' pitiful plots? I threatened to disown you if you started playing Mafia Wars just before I passed the phone to Dad.

The two of you talked bread - baking, mixing, rising, ovens, temperatures, and yeast for about ten minutes until I got control of the phone again.  Just before we hung up, you said, "You need to try the asiago bagels.....Tomorrow."

After my shower, I checked Facebook.  And you did it again -- you were littering my headlines with your Farmville announcements. I shook my head and smiled at the silly distraction.  I could almost hear you laughing at your computer, music blaring with Daryl Hall and John Oates hits, with one goal -- beat Katie. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

D Day Minus 205 (August 15, 2009)

"When were you and Greg going to Houston?" Dad absently asked  between work email and bites of eggs over easy nestled on whole grain toast.  I held my breath and willed myself not to let out a big sigh. I just stared past Dad through the kitchen window, while a golf cart raced to the seventh hole at the Bassett Country Club.  I considered taking one of Dad's stupid Hobby Farm Magazines, rolling it up and stabbing him like Norman Bates stabbed Janet Leigh in Psycho. Then, I  decided not to because we'd just hung the shower curtains in the claw foot tub upstairs and I was tired from all that weeding in the front flower beds before breakfast. So, why bother? Besides, I didn't really think I had the upper body strength to dispose of his body. 

Well anyway, last Sunday I made reservations downstairs in my office in Sterling and checked with Dad while he was finally cleaning the garage.  You saw me go back and forth between my office downstairs and the garage at least three times. Remember you were watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel in the family room. 

You kept checking to make sure I was doing all right each time I'd retreat from the garage. You could tell I was nearing my spastic mode.  I couldn't help it, I was  worrying about Dad's reaction about having to get up at "oh dark thirty" or getting stuck in traffic.  Anyhow, the only flights I could get that didn't cost a thousand bucks a pop to Houston were out of BWI and in the afternoon just around rush hour, which could take us nearly two and half hours from Sterling.  So you know that I DID tell Dad about the airport and DID check with him on the timing and DID just offer to leave the car in long term parking. 

"You don't have to drive us to Baltimore like I said last week. I don't want to be a bother."  I barked, putting my plate in the dishwasher and dropping my fork on the floor.  Dad looked up from his damn laptop like I was from another planet.  

"I didn't say that Nance.  I just asked a simple question. When was I supposed to take you and Greg to Baltimore?" Dad was calm, which pissed me off even more. 

 "September 9th.  I DID email you the itinerary when I made the reservations."  I plopped down hard on my kitchen chair and nearly tipped over the trash can when I landed to check MY email. 

"Here it is." I said maximizing Exhibit A to full screen size.  "I forwarded it to you when I made the reservation on the 9th of August. 

"See."  I said, turning the screen for Dad to see.  "The flight leaves at 5:55 from BWI."  Dad closed his laptop a lot harder than usual and started fidgeting with the mole on the back of his neck. 

"What, do you want the airline too?"  I glared. Without missing a beat, I added. "Continental."

"Nance, why are you on my ass?"

"I'm not." I  headed outside, car keys, in hand. Dad stood between me and the back door. 

"The SUV needs an oil change." I said trying to get past Dad. "I need to take care of it."  Tears rolled down my cheeks.

"The oil change can wait."  Dad said reaching to hug me. "Or I can do it."
"It's just that I don't know if the treatment is working." I said muffled into Dad's chest.

"I know."  Dad said. "Neither do I."

By the time, Dad let go there were two big wet spots on his favorite yellow shirt.  But, I felt better. I sniffed really hard and said something about my nose running.  Dad kissed me and said his corny canned joke about "you better go catch it." I shook my head and laughed a little, then I decided to get the oil changed so I wouldn't have to mow. 

I wanted to talk to you, but knew you were busy at work.  So I texted, "BiZ" our shorthand for Believe in Zebras and "No response required" from the SUV in the driveway.  On the way to get the oil changed, I thought of the times we talked about the Law of Attraction and the need for contrast so you knew what you did want. Thankfully, I had my bluetooth headset on, so the guy with the mullet in the pickup truck next to me at the stoplight couldn't tell that I was talking to myself. 

 "I want the treatment to work so you can get on with your life.  I want to be annoyed by normal everyday things like figuring out what to have for dinner. I want to know there is more than this.  I want you to get your own place and ask to borrow tools.  I want all of us to learn to play an instrument and start a family band so we can play on holidays. I want to be present in the moment. I want Dad to win the lottery because it would just be fun to see him excited.  I want a vacation home in Hawaii so we get the Aloha spirit on a regular basis.  I  want to be aware of all the goodness around me. I want to find good airfares back to Houston. But, mostly I want the treatment to work"

I glanced over at mullet guy, smiled because I knew what I wanted. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

D Day Minus 206 (August 14, 2009)

"So would you ever move to New York?" I asked as we pulled into the Chipotle parking lot just off Route 7 by Borders and the Regal Cinemas.  You were in the passenger seat, tired but happy, after your first day training in the bakery at the Dulles Store.  I was killing time like I usually did whenever Dad would make the decree about "leaving work early and heading south to Bassett before 66 gets backed up."

"Maybe. But, I really don't want to be too far from you and Dad." You furrowed your brow like you were trying New York on for size.  "If something came up with Wegmans and Katie wanted to move and it was within a reasonable driving distance from you."  You sighed, looking at the digital clock in the console.  " It took awhile for me to get it, but family is the most important thing and I don't want to be too far away."

 We got out of the SUV. You winced when I slammed the door a little too hard for your liking.  I drew in my breath, thankful it was my vehicle. I didn't want a repeat performance of what I deemed Mimi's Meltdown from a couple of days ago. Fortunately, the six or seven of Loudoun's finest filing out of Chipotle's got your attention. 

"What did you do?" I teased, knowing your love hate relationship with the cops every since you got your license.

"They're after you Mom, I didn't drive." You said, eyebrows raised.

"That's for sure." I laughed, then slugged your arm . "Yeah, you drive like a grandpa."

"Well at least, I haven't had a ticket since...." You didn't finish your sentence, but we both knew that your Mario Amdretti days were a thing of the past after you got your license suspended at nineteen for reckless driving.

"Serioulsy, why are there so many cops?" You asked considering possible scenarios putting your right index finger to your lips. 

"I bet it was because they get a discount." I opened the double glass doors to a wall of refrigeration and immediately got chills.   "When I was a Manager at McDonald's, we gave the cops food for half price because it was good for business to have a police presence." I wrapped my arms around waist, trying to get warm. 

"That makes a lot of sense." You said weighing my answer. "McDonald's is invested in Chipotle." 

The line was almost out to the door and we got stuck behind the some track team that was pretty loud.  Neither of us cared about the wait and we just stood a little closer and talked a little louder. 

"I think I was little too slow for the lady who was training me to mix breads.  A couple times, I think she wanted me to get out of the way so she could make the bread."  You said.

"Damn Management Trainee." I chimed in. 

"But, I started to get the hang of it." You stood a little straighter when you said it.

"Like you said Greg, you don't have to best at making and baking bread, you have to the be best at managing people and resources." You smiled a satisfied smile and and asked, "Did I tell you my store is getting the new deck ovens instead of the brick ovens at Dulles." You proceeded to tell me the merits of deck ovens over brick ovens, which I forgot by the time I paid for your barbacoa burrito with black beans. We talked until Katie called you while you were eating your burrito at home at the kitchen table.  I loved that we talked for over an hour and cancer never came up --- once. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

D Day Minus 207 (August 13, 2009)

“How was it?” I asked when you stepped into our air conditioned foyer, a refuge from Northern Virginia’s heat and humidity.  You wore khaki pants and the brown and green striped shirt you saved for special occasions.  And the biggest smile plastered across your face.  Even your hair was happy – and still there – with no sign of falling out.  “What was wrong with this picture?”  I thought to myself. Absolutely nothing!  It was magical, so I snapped a mental picture and filed it under ‘hope.’

“Today was awesome.” You said walking toward the kitchen -- making a beeline to the fridge.  “Everyone was really nice and we even got lunch.  I met Jeremy who is another Team Lead and Andrea who works in HR.  Both of them are from New York.  Wegmans moved them down here.” You poured some juice, paused long enough to gulp down a half a glass.

 “My Store is going to be bigger than the Dulles Store.”  You said, putting the glass to your lips.

“My Store.” I teased. 

“Yeah, its my store.” You meant it and I loved that you did.  “It opens November 8th.  The layout is reversed from Dulles.  You know how the bakery is more to the right in Dulles.  Well it is more to the left in Leesburg.”  You drew the layout and explained it in excruciating detail for the next five minutes or so.  You lost me after the bakery layout, but it was so much fun to see you so excited, I just smiled and nodded. 

“Mom, are you getting this?”  You asked. “I can tell that you’re not getting it. Just say so.”

“I do love you.” I said and you just laughed.

“What about benefits?” I asked. 

“Yeah benefits should start the end of the month, sooner than I thought.”

“Wow.” I said. “You are magical. Do you think it is from the plan you put together for Think and Grow Rich? ”  I loved your strategy not to give up. You had  a plan and went with it even when I had doubts --- you knew it would happen.  You  allowed things to line up for you.  And they did.  You wanted a second chance to prove to yourself that you could be a good manager and an inspirational leader. And you got it.  The chorus to Tom Petty's, Into the Great White Open, got stuck in my head, as I thought about you reaching for the great white open. 

 Into the great wide open,
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open,
A rebel without a clu

You shrugged your shoulders  and said “I dunno.” Then I did bowed down to you like a student to his sensei until you started to laugh.  By the time you laughed, the song got unstuck. 

“Are they ok with you taking time off for your next round of chemo and going to Houston for scans on September?” I knew you said Julie, your manager said it was fine, but I was always a little scared something may go wrong.  I may not be 007 with a license to kill, but I am your mom, with a license to worry.

“I’m in training now, so there is some flexibility.  I start training at Dulles tomorrow at 8.  I need to learn all the sections in bread so I’ll know everything about my bakery and be a better manager. “  You stared past me through to the back patio for a minute or so. "I want my team to know what to do without out me.  So they can make decisions.  You know Mom, teach them to fish.” You said.

“Just in case….” I trailed off. “The treatment doesn’t work.”

“No.” You said.  “I’m going to be fine.  I want my team to be.” You struggled for the word.

“Empowered.” I said.

“Yeah. Empowered.”

“You’ve got it all figured out.” I said smiling  “Are you going to be the next Danny Wegman?”

“Maybe.”  You looked up, thought about it for a minute then blurted. “Yes, yes I am.”  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

D Day Minus 209 (August 11, 2009)

"I'm going to kill him even if the cancer doesn't." I said to Janiene as I cradled my cell against my right cheek while I walked aimlessly around the loop around the pond. "He can be such an ass."

"Why, what happened?" Janiene asked.

"I know he's not feeling well, but that's no excuse." Tears laced  with mascara bled into my eyes making both of them sting like hell.  Salt on an open wound popped into my mind as I tried not to totally lose it. 

"WHAT HAPPENEND?" Janiene asked, this time in her annoying bossy voice, like she did when were kids.  

"I took Katie and Greg to Mimi's Cafe to celebrate getting through his first round of treatment and starting at Wegmans on the 13th.  Jeff was working late so it was just the three of us.  Anyways it started when he threw a fit about me even asking to bring a bottle of water in his stupid assed white Scion.  I had to hear him ranting about wanting to keep it nice and yada yada.  Then when we got to Mimi's, I shut the door to his precious milk truck too hard and I had to hear about that.  Dinner was miserable because of him and his stupid attitude.  How did he get so anal?" I maybe took a half a breath and started up again.

"Greg knew I was upset, but he thought it was because he was run down and tired and had cancer.  He's so stupid.  I felt bad for Katie because she knew I was mad and felt stuck in the middle.  I wish I everything could be about me for once." The words just came out in slow motion like when you shut the car door and notice the damn keys on the seat. 

"Hold on." I said to Janiene, "I have a call coming in." I looked at caller id. "It's Greg."

"Do you need to go?" Janiene asked.

"No. I don't want to talk to him.  He'll be fine. I just told him I needed to go for a walk and do something for me when I left the house. He's a big boy, he'll figure it out..... I'm never going back home."  I said, my heart racing really fast.  Someone drove by with their music blaring from a souped up Honda so all I got back from Janiene was. "Are you there?  Did I lose you?"

"I'm here." I said fighting the urge to give the Honda the finger.   "I told him I would never go on a road trip with him. Ever. EVER. I didn't really mean it.  I would.  Only  I'd take my own car so I could go through drive throughs, have food and drink in the car, and not have to park out in frikkin Egypt." I sighed loud enough so I knew Janiene could hear. Then I breathed in for four counts and out for four. 

"I get that he wants some control over this." I almost whispered.

"I'm sure he does." Janiene said.

"Did I do something wrong so Greg got cancer and Morgan was a cutter?" I thought I'd stopped thinking that, but I just said it. My toxic mouth was the reservoir and the dam broke. 

"No."  Janiene said.  "You can get mad."

"I usually limit it to five minutes. But, I've been walking for an hour half and its nearly dark.  And I don't want to go home. EVER. EVER. EVER." Then I started bawling like a baby. 

I honestly didn't think about how you felt or whether you were going to be ok.  And even though you tried to call again.  I just kept on having my pity party with Janiene until Dad called . Then I started round two with him.

"You have to go home Nance." Dad said.  "It's getting dark." I pouted and didn't say anything for about thirty seconds. 

"But I said all those mean things about Greg to you and Janiene.  I was just mad. And I know I didn't say them to him. But I thought them, which is just as bad." I said.

"Come on, you have to give yourself a break. Get your butt home." Dad said. 

After I hung up I headed back to the house via the trail behind our house and almost stepped in some dog poop. "What else?" I muttered along with a few obscenities. Then I smiled when I realized that this was first time I had been mad at you  in a long time. It was anger just the way it used to be without cancer looming in the background.

When I got home, Dad was in the kitchen looking for something to eat.  He hugged me and told me I was stinky from walking, which I knew.  You left Katie in your room and met me on the first landing of the stairs.  I smiled a little, thankful you didn't hear my tirade.  "Mom." You said. "Are you ok?" 

"Yeah" I said, "But being stupid runs in the family."  We hugged really hard.  I started a mental inventory of all the things I appreciated about You, Dad, Morgan, Katie, and life.   And how good it felt to get MAD. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

D Day Minus 211 (August 9, 2009)

"I know how to save two hours of your life." I said as I pulled plates from the cupboard. You sat at the kitchen table waiting for Dad's French Toast ala Costco baguettes and bacon breakfast -- and Katie.

"How?" You asked, with a hint of smile, trying to hide your preoccupation with the family room window and the shadows of passersby and car doors slamming. Your mask-o-chemo was fading. In fact you looked ready to start your first day at Wegmans. Almost.

"Do NOT. I repeat. Do not watch Mama Mia with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan." I said with as much melodrama as I could muster for a lazy Sunday morning. "Morgan and I watched it last night while she was on the cross-trainer."

"I wasn't planning on watching it." You said as you watched Dad juggle bacon in the microwave and french toast on the griddle. "But thanks for letting me know."

"It was bad." Morgan said toting her old show choir chair from the garage so she'd have a place to sit when Katie came. "A.I. movie bad."

We laughed as we relived our family benchmark for bad movies. You were 16 and Morgan was 14 and it was the Summer of 2001. You two convinced Dad and me to go. The little boy from Sixth Sense played a robot boy who searched everywhere for the blue fairy. We thought the movie ended when he found the blue fairy. We even got up to leave. Only to sit back down, flabbergasted that it wasn't over. I'm not sure if we were idiots or optimists, but we stayed for another hour until it really ended.

"A.I. is on FIOS On Demand along with Mama Mia if you really want to show Katie a good time." I teased.

"Whatever." You said as you walked to door to let Katie in. You told her to sit down, while you got her some orange juice and made sure she had whatever she needed.  We finally got Dad to sit down and did what we do best -- tease each other and eat all of Dad's good food.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

D Day Minus 212 (August 8, 2009)

You stayed in bed watching the History Channel and Food TV. You said you almost felt human again and expected to feel a lot better. The sparkle of your eyes was coming back especially when you talked about starting your new job at Wegmans. Katie was at her house sleeping -- exhausted from working all night. Dad promised to be your nurse and get whatever you needed while Morgan and I went to Tyson's Corner.

Morgan and I were celebrating her big loss -- a loss of fifty pounds -- thanks to Tony Horton and P90x. She wanted to mark the occasion with a new pair of jeans -- her first pair in five years. We walked all over the mall, through Macy's all the way to Old Navy. We even passed where the the Rainforest Cafe used to be and talked about birthday celebrations of the past. Once we made it to Old Navy, Morgan found some jeans she liked. Morgan, our family photographer, took a picture of herself wearing them in the dressing room with her phone looking very buff and lean. I'm pretty sure she sent it to you too. I was so happy Morgan was finding her way.

Morgan and I talked about the lessons she was learning after being on her own in Roanoke. We also talked about you and how you never learn lessons the easy way. But eventually you learned. We laughed about you getting your license taken away and you driving like a grandpa and how you used to diss us whenever you had a new girlfriend. Morgan and I agreed that this time around with Katie felt different - more grounded. The one upside of your cancer was the clarity to focus on what really matters.

Morgan's feet hurt so we stopped in front of Ambercombie and Fitch because there was an empty bench.

"Remember how Greg would only get his clothes from Ambercrombie or the Gap." Morgan said.

"Yeah, now he wears clothes from Target and Walmart." I said. "Things really do change when you have to pay for rent and living expenses."

Morgan took my hand and we got into the rhythm of people watching: high schoolers worried about fitting in, soccer parents fighting with kids, and the richy rich twenty and thirty something women flaunting their interpretation of mall fashion on the catwalk.

"Remember that Halloween, when you and Dad were gone for the weekend looking at houses in New York." Morgan said, staring at her reflection in the window that showcased posters of pubescent boys and girls with come hither looks. She told me how you and Katie decided to get drunk, while she was cutting her arms and legs in her room. I would have killed you, if I'd known you were going to be stupid especially since I trusted you with Morgan. I sighed, thankful neither you or Morgan were teens anymore.

"Katie howled at the moon." Morgan said. "And blood was starting to gush out of cuts, so I went in the bathroom to try and stop it. I didn't mean to cut so deep, but I felt so alone. I was really scared so I banged on Greg's bedroom door. Greg and Katie were laughing and laughing, while I was dying. He was so oblivious. And so was Katie."

Memories of Morgan's depression came back like a torrential storm. I knew then that her depression and cutting were my training wheels for dealing with your cancer. I didn't say anything as we sat there. I learned through a lot of trial and error that I only had to listen -- anything I could say would only diminish her feelings and experience. I did keep cleaning Hooponopono style and kept saying to myself: "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."

"Greg sobered up fast when he saw all the blood." Morgan said. "He sat next to me leaning against the tub, wreaking of alcohol. He said he loved me and was sorry. And that he would always have my back."

We sat there, silent in our thoughts, holding hands so tight my fingers lost circulation. I finally broke the silence and asked. "And has he?"

"Yes." Morgan said quietly. "He's had my back since.

As we walked through the mall back to the car, I played what's worse in my mind - knowing or not knowing, deadly accidents or terminal diseases, cancer or depression, paper or plastic, life or death - and came came up with a draw. At the vending machine in the parking lot, I bought a Diet Coke (which I know you'd give me crap for) and let Morgan take the curse off. Then, I promised myself to do the one thing I could do -- love my two babies unconditionally through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

D Day Minus 213 (August 7, 2009)

I picked up your favorite breakfast from McDonalds - an Egg McMuffin, two hash browns, and an OJ. You threw it up after three bites of your Egg McMuffin.

"Jeez, Greg you could have just said you were full." I teased when you sat back down at the kitchen table. You smiled a little, mostly for my benefit. You saw the chink in my armor shroud with humor. I saw the familiar chemo mask that tinged your face with a dull green and gray cast.

Morgan lurked near the sink cleaning a Granny Smith apple for breakfast. Dad sat at his usual place at the kitchen table catching up on his never ending backlog of work email. He glanced up and said, "You OK, Turkey Man?" You nodded, then put your head back down on the table.

I asked, "Would magnesium help?" You lifted your head long enough to shoot me the look of death and said, "No, it makes is worse. A lot worse." I silently did Hooponopono while I finished getting ready for work, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."

I almost tripped over your zebra bag that was next to mine by the banister because I was Hoopononoing so much. You told me not to take your bag, which was kind of a stupid thing to say. Yours was packed with healthy snacks like almonds and Nutragrain bars and Pride and Prejudice, mine was brimming with four twenty-four ounce Diet Mountain Dews, a couple of packs Dentyne, and a notebook.

I worried about you losing weight from chemo, but knew better than to mention lunch plans or any food for that matter to you. So,I pulled Morgan aside in the foyer and slipped her a twenty to buy whatever you wanted for lunch. She had the last chemo duty watch for this round. I really really wanted to go, but didn't want to be too greedy. Morgan hugged me and said, "I'll take good care of Greg."

"Promise." I whispered in Morgan's ear. Then I kept reminding myself to breathe in and out for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

D Day Minus 214 (August 6, 2009)

Our next door neighbor, Mary Ann, took you to treatment until 1:30 or so. According to you, it was a non-event, just the typical chemo blahs. We laughed about how loud some people snore during chemo and not even know it.

It was Grandpa Wright's ninety-first birthday. I had called earlier on my way home from work to wish him a Happy Birthday. I teased you that if things went according to plan we'd be celebrating our ninety-first birthday in 2076. You were supposed to catch up with me, which was very likely, since I'd stopped having birthdays when I was twenty-nine. We planned to take up sky diving when we were eighty-five to help keep our neurons connected.

Around 5:00, Katie stopped by in-between naps because she had to work all night. Katie disappeared around 5:30 when Morgan showed up. I had just finished my Kelly Howell, Faith meditation, and you and Morgan plopped on my bed just the way you did when you were kids.

"Where's Katie?" Morgan asked. You said, "Being stupid. She didn't want to get in the way of our family time." Morgan insisted that that you call her so you did. I knew there was some history and issues but never dug any further. Ten minutes later, you, Morgan, and Katie were all sitting on my bed.

While you, Katie, and Morgan reminisced on my bed, I had a flashback to one of my worst nightmares -- not being able to save my babies from a flood caused by torrential rains. The nightmares started when I was four or five-- only my babies were my misfit dolls with bad haircuts, pen marks in places where there they shouldn’t be, and clothes made from rags. It probably stemmed from my mom reading me a child’s version of the bible story – Noah’s Ark. The full size bed I shared with my sisters was my raft – my sanctuary – to save my beloved babies. I remember waking up breathlessly trying to keep my babies safe on my raft almost every night when I little. Now my raft was king size and my babies were Greg, Morgan and Katie.

Monday, June 7, 2010

D Day Minus 215 (August 5, 2009)

"I have something for you." You said as you handed me the zebra scarf -- the one our favorite nurse showed us yesterday. "She wants you to have it."

I welled up with happy tears and you gave me a bear hug.

"I really do believe in zebras." I said in your ear.

"So do I." You echoed in my ear.

"How was treatment with Dad?" I asked breaking away from your arms with one last sniff.

"Treatment only lasted five hours." You said. "Dad sat with me through it, but had to go back to work. It was ok." You looked down and sighed. "I'll be glad when its over."

"How's the nausea?" I asked trying stop my impulse to snarl my face. "Do you want anything special for dinner?"

"Maybe some Amy's Organic Mac and Cheese, when I think of anything else it makes me want to puke." You said.

I searched the pantry, while you sat in the kitchen chair with both knees up to get warm and comfortable.

"At least, you're almost through with this round. And I don't think you are losing your hair." You rubbed your head just to make sure, then your eyes lit up when realized your your hair was still in tact.

The house phone announced "Morgan's calling." I asked if you remembered it was Morgan's birthday, just before I picked up.

"I remembered." You said while you made a beeline for the couch to get even more comfortable. "We'll celebrate it right next year. I'm not going anywhere."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

D Day Minus 216 (August 4, 2009)

Within ten minutes of taking Atavan, you were conked out on the industrial blue recliner being fed chemo through your port.  I was on my netbook messaging Aunt Janiene and sending email to Aunt Sue and Morgan about the morning events: an hour of hydration, followed by three bags of chemo, a full house of patients in various states of chemo treatment, and you reading the book, Pride and Prejudice, Katie gave you.   

One of our favorite nurses smiled at me as she checked to see why the sweet little old lady's monitor was beeping -- the one with ovarian cancer who sat directly across the room from us.  On her way back, the nurse said. "You must like zebras." I wore my favorite zebra tank top along with a couple of zebra bands. My iPod, Kindle, and netbook were also clad in zebra skins.  I had my zebra shopping bag to carry my zebra loot and a bevy of your snacks - organic chips, gummy worms, almonds, and granola bars.

I nodded and said. "I guess I do." 

"Me too." The nurse said and proceeded to show me a zebra scarf used as doo-rag for cancer patients who had lost their hair.

"Nice." You said with half opened eyes.  The three of us laughed and made small talk about your zebra story until another patient's monitor called the nurse away. You tried to sleep, but couldn't because one of the patients was snoring really loud.  You cocked your head in the direction of the snoring culprit and made your eyes go real big. We laughed, then made lunch plans to get you soup at Paneras. 

When I got to the Expedition to start our chow run, I just sat in the driver's seat. I took a deep breath in, let it out, took another deep breath in, and let it out until serenity swept through me.  With each breath I posted a snapshot in my memory and a knowing of unconditional love.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

D Day Minus 217 (August 3, 2009)

About two minutes into my chi run experiment, I almost had an anxiety attack trying out my spanking new metronome I just got from Amazon. It was supposed to set a soothing cadence and help me find inner peace and tranquility. Something I desperately sought after trying to be nonchalant about not going with you and Katie to your first day of treatment.  Well it didn't!  So I just turned off the damn metronome and got all gansta in my monkey shoes listening to the playlist we put together after we saw The Proposal in June.  My chi flowed to Lean Back, Roses ,Move B*****, Snap Yo Fingers , and Get Low while I ran the loop around the pond chasing away my fears.  By time I got home, my feet smelled like Fritos.  But I did feel like a bad mothah after running without stopping and was seriously considering buying some zebra bling from Amazon. 

I poked my head in your room on my way to get a bath - you and Katie were settling in on the Futon to watch something on the Food Network -- I think.

"I'm feeling pretty good." You said. "Katie and I walked the loop." You held Katie's hand, while she tried not to look afraid.  "This treatment is a piece of cake -- especially compared to Interferon."

I smiled and gave you the thumbs up instead of a hug because I started to smell like old grass in addition to really really really stinky Fritos. I left you alone with Katie and finally took a bath, mostly so I wouldn't RAINMAN you trying to figure out how you really felt.

By the time I got out of the tub and dressed, Katie had left and you were in bed fighting chills from the chemo. You asked me for another blanket.  While I covered you up, you looked up from your cocoon and said, "I am so glad you are my Mom."