Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Beside farms, parallel pipelines

I know I never mentioned this, but trains tend to run behind. In the event that this is a surprise to you, please consider traveling, at least periodically. A friend tells me that they have the same number of delays and the same length of delays as the major airlines, give or take a little, of course. The thing is that trains tend to be used for shorter trips, so the delays seem so much longer. There’s also more to do in airports than train stations. On the upside, most of my travels have been on only partially filled trains, so I could have two seats to myself. This is wonderful, and I could not be writing this right now if this weren’t the case. I’d feel a bit, oh, awkward writing with a stranger having full access to my thoughts-in-progress. It’s less about revealing myself to strangers than fiddling around with editing and misspelling while someone is watching. And hell, I know they’d be watching. I would.

I spoke with Mom on Thursday after her appointment with Dr. L. Her liver function (“normal” = 0 to 150 or something) has continued to improve (down to 818 from 880), although not as dramatically as before (1600-something to 880), and her tumor marker is down a bit. She believes that Mom’s fatigue is largely due to chemo, not cancer. The nerve pain she felt the other night is probably radiated pain from the liver and/or bone metastases, and she was given some kind of bone-happy infusion. The chest x-ray showed a decrease in fluid around the left lung, but the lower portion of the right lung has collapsed, leaving her short of breath. The brain scan and other x-rays are in the process of being ordered. I panicked about the collapsed lung, but Dr. L did not address any course of action. We will assume no state of emergency yet.

Mom adores foot rubs, and Dad is terribly reluctant to indulge her—not only is he not much for giving massages, he’s anti-foot. I’m pretty much her only source of foot rubs, and besides, he does a half-assed job anyway. Leigh Anne, always thoughtful and generous, sent a foot treatment care package for my time with Mom. Brooke reminded me to bring it, and it has left a sweet, lemony, almond fragrance in my bag. My sticky mat never smelled so good.

Besides foot rubs, my plans include cooking and freezing enough dinners for the time I’ll be gone, cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the house, and goading Mom into engaging in the “Gentle Yoga” tape we left there. Then, of course, I have my own things to do… work stuff, coalition stuff, and church stuff. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m overengaging my time. Church stuff is over in a week, though—thank God.

Perhaps obviously, I’m less profoundly sad than I was a few weeks ago. I don’t remember when my mood suddenly lifted, but I’m grateful beyond belief. Maybe it’s a response to Brooke’s increasing stress over the dearth of jobs and glut of job seekers. Maybe I’ve been renewed by a few startlingly productive weeks, and I’m back in messiah mode. Maybe it’s evidence of God carrying me through this time—God in the form of my friends. Whatever it is, I read a newspaper column this morning reflecting on corporate urban renewal versus neighborhood urban renewal, and I’ve been inspired to open a grocery store in one of the many neighborhoods which lack decent food and any real produce.

Emilin the Dreamer is back, and she has to compete for time with Emilin the Daughter/Wife/Drone.


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