Yes, yes: more coffee please. Toss in a few aspirin. And 15 hours of sleep. But this is what I wrote the other night, with some editing, and an afterword. The last “afterword” is still a ways off. For being drunk, I don’t think I did all that bad…
So damn exhausted. And on the third glass of wine in the hope that self medication works one time–and thankful for Facebook’s automatic spell check and correction. Throwing out a shout to the universe, because it is what I do, how I cope, how I process. How I might get to sleep tonight.
No, no coffee. More wine please. A buffer against the thoughts swirling through my head, a mind that grasps and claws at a memorial that will need to be written, an epitaph that I have been writing for oh so long.
The phone call that I cannot get my head around. From Mom: the second opinion was the same as the first. The cancer has spread and I could die any time.
It was as inevitable as winter finally settling upon us, that I am sitting in as I write this. With a body battered by decades of medications and operations and emergencies and traumas, nothing could be done for you except wait until winter came. No treatments could be done without hastening the inevitable. No surgeries could be done that would not cause the inevitable.
Yes, yes: another glass of wine please.
It can’t be true. Can it? How many times in the past 20 years have you died, flat-lined, only to be brought back? How many times in the past 20 years have the doctors said this was it, only to have you outlive the ones who said it? How many times in the past 64 years have you shrugged aside the impossible, the hurt, the pain, the isolation, the recriminations, the abuse both self inflicted and outside inflicted only to grasp at one more day that turned into years?
Even the spell check begins to fail me as I pour another glass of wine…
Manic depression defined you, as your manic depression defined me. But I am your son, and you are my mother. A mother created. A son created. A lifetime of stories that need to be written. And I love you.
They don’t understand, Mom. A dutiful son? Defending their mother? It was not just the manic depression that shaped me. No, not just that. It was a mother’s love, doing the best that she could. Doing more than was thought possible. Flawed maybe, but profound, and as impossible to ignore as the winter that must descend.
My wife says that it is anger. Yes. She is right. Such a long anger. Such a powerful anger. A righteous anger? A consuming anger. At the world. At God. At you. At myself. At the family. At myself–or did I already say that?
All that I wished, hoped, tried to create was a better quality of life for you, while balancing a better quality of life for myself. A buffer against the winter. For you. For me. A lot of the time it was despite everything you tried to do to thwart my efforts.
Another glass of wine please? No, no coffee tonight. –I really need help selecting a better wine.
Cancer? Really? That tiny, small, abnormal thing is what will end this Shakespearean drama? With everything else that has tried? Despite your best attempts that left doctor’s baffled at your survival? This little crappy piece of shit will be your undoing, your ending? How mundane. How so anti climatic…
The wine calls me down tangents when I wish it was tucking me into bed…
But maybe it is time to get to get to bed and hope the wine does the trick.
The end of part one.
[Afterword, sans wine, sans metaphors.]
A few years ago, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. Maybe. The scans were not 100% conclusive so they tried to do a biopsy, which almost killed her. Due to years of dialysis, or maybe due to the missing spleen or gall bladder, or the decades of medications for the manic depression (I refuse to call it by its PC bi-polar disorder), she developed a blood disorder and her blood will not clot. So, when they went in to do the biopsy, her lungs filled with blood and she went into cardiac arrest.
She almost died. Again.
Rushing to my mother’s death bed is nothing new. It has been going on now for over 20 years. Her recoveries have been nothing short of miraculous.
But the cancer. They treated what they felt was cancer with cyber knife, and the follow up scans showed that it was gone.
My mom was a vibrant woman at one time, with a turbo charged gear (Okay, okay: maybe not completely without metaphors). But those days are long past. At 40, she looked 60. At 50, she looked 70. That frail 60 year old woman that went under the cyber knife could have passed for 80. We and the doctors knew then that if the cancer returned, her body could not handle the treatment. Any more surgeries, for any reason, would kill her. So, we watched, and waited.
But it has been such a long wait. Over 3 years for the cancer, over 20 years for the inevitable.
Her stomach, her pancreas, her blood and her kidneys all sent her back to the hospital over the next couple years. Here, and then when she moved down to Florida. How much could one woman take?
My step father (and I) always tried to coordinate with the doctors and her social worker when she was here, as the information coming from her could be…distorted. But when she chose to move to Florida, there was not much we could do. When her caregiver in Florida was trying to kick her out and she wanted to move back up here, there was also not much we could do. (See where the guilt can creep back in?)
When my mom told us the cancer had returned, there was not anything that anybody could do. Except wait.
The inevitable was approaching. But, as in the last few decades, you push it aside and do what you have to do. When my mother calls me, though, from 1,000 miles away, in tears, her sorrow sears my soul. It is an old, old pain that I have never learned how to deal with. As a young child learning how to play stick ball, I also learned the pain and frustration that life was unfair and sometimes you cannot do anything about it. I learned anger. I was lousy at stick ball; I learned the anger response pretty damn well.
That freight train that charges through my head is fueled by anger. The belching smoke that flows from the stacks is guilt that chokes me. I’ve never really learned how to get rid of either one.
But I guess I’ll get more into that later, as I write more, because writing is really how I do cope, how I process, and how I hope to build a final terminal for that freight train.
But I’ll take this opportunity to get off the train for a bit. I need to get into work and go find my damn phone and try to catch up on the stuff that the hangover made impossible.