Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Sunday, October 12, 2003


Couldn't fall asleep last night until 5ish. I got about 3 hours of sleep, and although I wanted to make it to church, the nausea of sleep-deprivation set in while I was on my way out the door. This was after I chugged nearly 3 cups of coffee, so that left me feeling like a ball of ass on the couch and struggling to knit with trembling hands.

Brooke's mittens are done, and I'm working on a FUCK CANCER alpaca/wool hat for Mom.

I don't know if this journal is more about cancer or knitting or unmitigated whining.

Friday, October 10, 2003


Bad day. Got worse. We had plans to have dinner with a friend on Saturday, a friend whose eleven year relationship is ending. She's not feeling stable enough to do it, so she just cancelled amidst apologies and explanations. I know it's not about me, that it's what she can and cannot handle right now. I still feel badly.

I'm also drinking a lot, more than I'd like, but I'm operating under the assumption that I'll stop when it works for be to stop, that it won't be a problem. At least I'm painfully aware of it.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Sliding scale

Knitting group met tonight. I was pretty much just out of sorts. I haven't been sleeping well, so I've been sleeping late. Two of the last three days, I've nearly gotten out of the shower before I realized that my hair wasn't washed.

It's one of those little things, but it's somehow significant. I feel like crap, can't really concentrate, and therefore, I can't shower properly. This is a shower, not rocket science. I can't bathe myself, but I can complete expense reports.

I'm also socially inept. Brooke's first mitten is almost halfway done, though, and it looks stunning.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Falling from Grace

I was working on a CD for Grace, since she's making one for me, when Mom called tonight. This was after Brooke had made quiche like quiche has never been experienced--a creamy, cheesy, vegetably mixture, not the chunky eggy stuff you get in the freezer section of the Super Giant Grocery Store--and we were nursing the bottle of pinot noir that Grace sent in honor of Sodomy Day.

I had been on and offline, being an amateur and having only my free work account, no fancy cable DSL doodad, and I was finally rebooting after downloading the largest driver known to lesbiankind when Mom called. She asked how I was doing. I had had half a beer and a glass of wine at this point, so I sounded aloof, (You know, fine. Fine, sure. Yeah, I know that you mean since you called on Monday to tell me that you have a bleeding lump of cancer in your brain.) although that was not my intention.

We cried some more. She's going to the cabin with Dad, even though she can't really afford the time away from work. It's what she wants.

On the phone, she said, "Sunday," when I know she meant, "Tuesday," and it scared me more than it should have. Mom's always been the type to forget names of people, places, and things, to call her children by the pets' names and pets by the children's. Both Hope and Brooke respond when Mom calls out either of their names, and she still calls me Moshie. Moshie, my childhood cat, has been dead for a number of years. The simple mixup of Sunday and Tuesday shouldn't have seemed dire, but it did. After all, Sunday is nothing *like* Tuesday. Tuesday is drudgery day. Sunday is coffee and the New York Times and long naps while listening to the radio.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Beginning again in a different way.

I just got off the phone with Mom. She had warned me that if she didn't call tonight, it was because she didn't want to talk. She called me even though she didn't want to talk because she didn't want me to worry. So she told me how her appointment with the oncologist went today.

I do want to know. I want to be informed. I don't want any of this to be a surprise. I don't want to be protected from the ups and downs of cancer survival. I just don't want this to be happening.

Since her diagnosis in April 2000, she's had surgery three times: once for her port, once for her lumpectomy, and once for her liver masses. The last was the biggest, but the recovery period was up just before the wedding. She was able to enjoy my wedding. It was around that time that we learned that my sister-in-law was pregnant. Hannah, my niece, is Mom's greatest joy now.

It used to be me, but hey, I can deal.

We've had ups and downs since that April, but we've pretty much managed to move on with our lives, too. The only problem is that every time we reach the next down, I try to imagine commuting to my parents' hometown to take care of her. I mentally prepare a work schedule that allows me to be with them four days a week. I reschedule some future point in my life so that I can use my FMLA to take care of my mom, and I pray that I get to use all of that time to be with her.

Tonight was one of those nights. It is one of those nights. It will be one of those weeks.

Mom's liver masses are about twice the size they were before. There's progression in the size and number of the bone metastases in her hips. She has fluid in her lungs and around her heart. There's something about a bleeding cyst in her brain, something they need more views of before they can decide what it is and how to treat it. She's starting a new drug, gemzar.

I thought the Xeloda was our saving grace. I thought wrong.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Breast Cancer Post

In April 2000, my mother, then age 49, was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. That means that the cancer had spread out of her breast and begun to grow in her bones, specifically in her spine. Shortly before diagnosis, she suffered a stress fracture of one of her vertebrae. It was painful for several days but did not cause any lasting damage.

In June 2002, after the cancer had spread to her liver, she had a liver resection surgery. More than 70% of her liver was removed at one time, and she spent 11 days in the hospital. She went home and recovered for eight weeks before she returned to her normal self.

In July 2003, her cancer counts were down and her blood counts were up. Everything was looking great. But in October, things turned down again. I didn't know it then, but they would never look up again.

The story that I tell here technically begins in October 2003 and ends on February 13, 2004. But that's not the way life works. There's more to say, and if truth be told, this blog is about me more than it's about my mother. She starred in it, and she's still making cameo appearances.

Back in October, I made a hat. It's partly for her and mostly for me. She borrowed it for several months, and I have it back to remind me of my love for her.

Mom loved the hat, and she loved its message. I love it because it reminds me to use my anger productively.

About grief (after)

Yes, she did
Oh, very young
Weep for me no more
Part III: Semi-Attack of the Colons
Everyday cashmere
Another day, another sweater
Time is on my side, yes it--no
One Moment More
Dirt don't hurt
Carry the words of love with you
For the feet of the brave and the true
The fabric of our lives
I guess that makes it... let's see... "despair."
Luke 24:21
It all went by so fast
That whole "ashes and dust" thing
The cicadas might have something to do with it
Prelude to another funeral

About grief (before)

Falling from Grace
Sliding scale
Keeping up
It was just a piece of mail
A letter I'll never send
Moving is moving
Thank you notes
Seraphim and Cherubim
Voice mail
Like buttah
Posh spice
A long commentary on the weekend vis à vis the YMCA
Thank you for shopping at Meijer
Saturday night fever
The guard

About Mom's illness

Beginning again in a different way.
Falling from Grace
Long as God can grow it
Moving is moving
Knights in earrings
Beside farms, parallel pipelines
I am motion, you're the rolling ocean
Push it
Guilt, coping, flailing, neurosis
Reverend Brown is coming over
In brief
The guard
Yes, she did

This gif is freely copyable. Just right click, save
Powered by
RSSify at WCC

Powered by Blogger