Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Task list

If I don't link to you and you would like me to do so, please email me. It's nothing personal. I'm just not very good at keeping up with all the blogs. Emailing me will assist in this whole keeping up with the blogs thing.

Also, if there's anything you'd like me to post about, let me know either in the comments or by email. The fetus is eating my brain and making me just a little (ha!) stupid, so any assistance would be appreciated.

Oh, and I'm open to any comments about baby shower etiquette that someone might wish to make. Mine is coming up soon, and I'm having a particularly hard time figuring out who to invite. It's just so presumptuous to invite someone to a party which has the express purpose of providing us with gifts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fire, alarm

Have you a wood fireplace? It turns out that the reason it's important to leave the flue open until all of the coals are done glowing is because of risk of carbon monoxide, not just fire risk.

Friday night, the last of the flames died around 11:00pm, so it was just barely glowing when I closed the flue and went to bed around 1:00am. At 2:15, the carbon monoxide detector went off. Earlier in the evening, it had been reading at 0 and the furnace hadn't been on for more than 16 hours. We opened windows, the flue, and tried to get the damned machine to shut up. The readings were 140 points higher in our bedroom (270) than they were in the dining room (130), the room that adjoins the room with the fireplace.

We have friends in town for the weekend, but thank Bob none of them were staying with us. We both had small headaches but had attributed them to the smoke from the fireplace. We were tired, but it was late.

After calling several professionals (my midwives and two sets of fire/emergency dispatchers), we packed up the cats--who were acting normally... they were mostly thrilled we were awake again--and sat in the car until the fire dudes arrived with their little CO machine. Then the ambulance arrived to check us out. We both showed normal blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen.

The EMTs were very kind, as were the fire dudes. Our CO detector was giving the same readings that theirs was, and we made a mental note to thank Brooke’s stepfather for the gift. More importantly, the levels were now the highest next to the fireplace and not in the basement with the furnace. Our cats probably would have been fine in the house, as the fire dude told us. Cats and dogs require lower levels of oxygen, which explains why they were acting just fine. So much for using the cats as canaries.

We watched an episode of the Gilmore Girls on DVD and let the house air out a bit more, even though the low was 39F last night, and then we closed all windows except the ones in the living room. Then we closed the doors to the living room and went to bed (4:00am). The next morning, all rooms had a CO reading of 0.

After a little online fearmongering, I spoke with the midwives again. No need to be concerned. A few different tests could be run, but they wouldn’t necessarily tell us anything. I realized that I didn’t know what I would do with the information even if they could tell me something. Everything will be fine.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sixty-six grand for your thoughts?


My blog is worth $66,051.18.
How much is your blog worth?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's what's for dinner.

With apologies to Delany and Nella for subject matter.

Cheese.com is my new best friend. That is all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mothers' little helper

Last week at childbirth class, the instructor spoke about trying to get past some of our major fears and concerns about the childbirth experience, saying that working through our fears could help prevent serious problems. She mentioned specifically fears about how much or little pain we could handle, about what might go wrong, and about how past sexual or emotional abuse could hinder us. We need to believe in ourselves and that the experience can go well.

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while

As you might imagine, my biggest fear, the one I realized as I sat in class trying not to let the tears fall, is my mother not being there. At that moment, I realized that I need my father to be there. On the way home, I talked it out with Brooke: I would discuss it with my father, tell him I wanted him to be there. Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Six Feet Under, but as far as I can tell, no good could possibly come from my mother making an appearance at the birth. Brooke nodded. Dad chuckled. We were all in agreement.

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while
There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for a while

Dad and I have a few different ideas about the hospital birth experience. He’d rather be at the hospital too early than too late, but my mother’s births, at least her second and third, were both on the shorter end of average. She was really only in active labor for six hours with both my brother and with me, and she managed to have births free of pain medications, even with a heavy dose of Pitocin while she labored with my brother. My medical care, I gently reminded him, was to be decided by Brooke, me, and the midwives. We left the specifics of when we’d call him up in the air. As long as I know he’s coming when I need him, I’ll be okay.

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while

Last night, after running around the house screwing things—sash locks, door stoppers, a mirror—back in place post-painting, Brooke and I sat in down in the other bedroom, also known as the guest room, the baby’s room, and the blue room, and pondered having a baby. We mentally rearranged furniture and discussed where to put various decorations. The last few songs on the Warren Zevon cover album (Enjoy Every Sandwich) were playing.

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

“Keep me in your heart” was on, and I hummed along. One of us, I can’t recall which now, brought up playing music for Ebry. Ebry, the super-active fetus who enjoys midnight games of Whack A Mole in utero, would surely dance for us when we played music. “Something peppy,” I said, thinking about these energetic nights, “but something meaningful.” The solution, of course, was Sleater-Kinney’s “Little Babies.” A little bit of riot grrl fun with a dash of tender loving care.

I’m the water i’m the dishes I’m the soap
I will comfort make you clean help you cope
When you’re tired feeling helpless
Come inside i am the shelter
And then when you’re feeling better
I’ll watch you go

Dum dum dee dee dee dum dum dee dum do
All the little babies go oh oh i want to
Dum dum dee dee dee dum dum dee dum yeah
Rock the little babies with one two three

Are you hungry did you eat before the show
I peeled potatoes set the table washed the floor
I know the others treat you rough
And when you know you’ve had enough
You’ll come and see me cos you know
I’m always here

Mother’s little helper
And Ebry? Not a single movement from the time I secured the headphones around my belly until well after I had taken them off. So much for the uterus-as-moshpit I had imagined.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mike Wazowski

Here is the real Mike Wazowski. However, not too far from where I live, another Mike Wazowski made an appearance this weekend.

Mike Wazowski came to town

Ours was the only Mike Wazowski we saw at the trick-or-treating event. Brooke and I did see a small Sully, but he and Mike never did get together.

Mike just mostly hung out with Mom.

Mike loves Mom

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy National Coming Out Day!

I've only been a full-time lesbian for seven years or so now, but it's been a fantastic experience all around. Many thanks to my lovely wife, Brooke, for making it so.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Photo meme

Town I was born in:

Town I live in now:

My name:

My grandmother's name:

My favorite food:

My favorite drink:

My favorite song:

My favorite smell:

This is from Wannabemom-- You have to do a google image search and post an image of the following: the town you were born in, the town you live in now, your name, your grandmother's name, your favorite food, your favorite drink, your favorite song, and your favorite smell. Tell me if you do it so I can admire your pictures.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


For the last few months, I’ve noticed a new person/dog pair walking on my street. The dog is one of several all or mostly black medium-sized pooches. The person at first looked very old to me, but I soon realized she just looked like my mom: fuzzy head, pale skin, glasses.

I saw her on my way to the bus last week, and we exchanged pleasantries about the weather. She takes small, quick steps. I saw as we passed one another on foot that she really does have the hair of someone who has been through aggressive chemotherapy more than once. From time to time, I had thought about saying something to her about how I know or understand what cancer can do to a person, but no one wants to hear from me. My cancer patient died.

Yesterday, I saw her approaching a neighbor’s home when I took out the mail. A few minutes later, she was knocking on my door. She was in pursuit of a lemon for the juice she makes for herself. A lime would be fine, too, she said. I let her in and went spelunking in the refrigerator. We chatted about what large, furry cats I have, and I found one small lime, slightly dry, with the imperfect rind that provides evidence that it was grown organically.

She thanked me profusely and told me that she has bladder cancer, that this juice she makes helps with it. Her name is Nancy, and she usually buys organic produce when she can, so she understands and expects the imperfections on the lime. She promised that she would do her grocery shopping later in the day, and she promised to replace the lime. No worries, I told her. We would be fine without.

Sure enough, I sat knitting on the couch when she knocked again around 7:30. She had her dog with her, a gorgeous black mixed breed with thick, thick fur. This was a dog she had rescued, she told me, and the dog is part chow, part Akita, as close as anyone can figure. The lime she brought us was bigger and juicier than the one we had given her. She apologized for not being able to find anything organic. We chatted produce and our neighborhood for a few more minutes, then her dog lead her away on their walk.

My brain’s filter was secured tightly, so I failed to embarrass myself or to offend her; for this, I am grateful.

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