Sunday, August 1, 2010

D Day Minus 181 (Sep 9, 2009): Keeping up with the Joneses (Part 2): Just a Little Contrast

“Can you take my carry-on?” I asked when the big glass doors automatically opened to the main terminal at BWI. “I think my zebra tank top clashes with it.” I pushed my zebra rollaround in your general direction as if that would make a difference. “Too much zebra?” I wrinkled my nose. 

 “You can’t have too much zebra.” You said with a little chuckle intentionally avoiding my carry-on. We looked at each other and said, “More Zebra.” Just like the old Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken. It was the one that was a fake rockumentary with Blue Oyster Cult, where they kept saying “More Cowbell” when they were jamming to "Don't Fear the Reaper."

We played a few rounds of “More Zebra,” while I fished for our boarding passes in my backpack. It was sandwiched between pages in a spiral note pad filled with twenty or so questions to ask the doctor. I fanned the boarding passes and made you hold on to them while I got my license. When I couldn’t find my license and started panic.  You said, “We’ve got time. Our flight isn’t for two hours. Dad made good time getting us here.”

It wasn’t that I couldn’t find my license that made me panic, it was the thought of not getting to Houston so we’d know if the chemo worked. After what seemed an eternity (sixty seconds), I found my license right where I left it – in the front compartment of my backpack. I’d put it there for easy access on the way to BWI. I mumbled something about being an idiot.

I decided to put on my black sweater so I didn’t have to repack it. Well that wasn’t entirely true, I still worried that my tank top clashed with the carry-on. That and my stupid panic attack looking for my license, made it so I didn’t want “More Zebra” for awhile.

“What?” I asked a little too defensively while you waited for me to button my sweater. You gave me a look, like you read my mind and knew what was really going on with the cover-up.

“I’m cold. It’s my Reynaud’s Syndrome. I can’t help it if my circulation is funky. Do you want me to turn blue? That would really make me clash with all my zebra stuff.”

“Whatever.” You said with faux annoyance, pointing to the sign for airport security.

“So do you think Dad is going to make it home?” I asked as I tried to get you to take the lead to airport security by stepping back and walking slowly. You didn’t answer my question and insisted that I take the lead. You said something about "trusting me and me being the mom so I should lead.”

“Dad should make it home! That dirt bag.” I said with a bit too much drama. “He took the GPS. Now I have to get one in Houston and set the addresses.” I droned on about that and a lot of trivia for another ten minutes while we waited in line at airport security.

The droning was really a proxy for what really permeated the recesses of my mind: “What if the chemo doesn’t work? What next? Are you going to be all right? Do you know I would give up my life for you? Do you know that you will forever be my baby even when we’re both 100?”

I was glad you didn’t know what I was really thinking. You had enough to worry about, without having to make me feel better. Eventually a lull enveloped us and we waited in queue for a TSA Agent to beckon us. I tried not to eavesdrop on some guy meeting some people in some city for drinks and about it being so great and awesome and about planning some cool vacation next winter. He was about the same age as you. The contrast and dichotomy was a slap in the face. He didn’t have a life threatening disease. He didn’t question his mortality. He got to make plans without cancer and scans in the equation. You didn’t really notice much, you were in the middle of a string of text messages with Katie.

We went through security and stripped off our shoes and disassembled our electronics for scanning. Meanwhile, I struggled to find downstream thoughts like “it’s going to be all right, we don’t know anything for sure, at least I’m here with you – right here, right now.” 

I waited for you --just enough out of the way --not to get dirty looks from other travelers.  Then we walked to the chairs to get reassembled. When you bent over to tie your shoe, you said, “Thanks Mom.”

“What for?” I asked puzzled.

“Thanks for planning the trip. Thanks for coming with me. Thanks for being my mom. Thanks for everything.” I got all misty eyed, but kept it together.

You waited for me to repack my electronics and led the way to Concourse D. On the way there, you started singing your Christopher Cross oldie but goodie, It’s All Right, I Think We’re Gonna Make it, until I smiled.

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