Five

On the eve of her fifth birthday, RR had a crisis. She did not want to be five. She didn’t want to remain four but no, she didn’t want to be five. I’m sure this was my fault (isn’t it always your mother’s fault?) because after bedtime stories she curled up in my arms and I told her about all the things that she will be able to do when she’s five.

You’ll be able to swim and you’ll be tall and you’ll be a kindergartener and you will swing high on the swings and you will laugh harder and be stronger and you will…

You can see the mistake. I saw it, at least, somewhere in between you’ll be able to ride a bike and you’ll get to do work all day long at school. This child is not a person who wants to learn to pedal anything. Not even the promise of work all day could lessen the bike blow*. It’s more than that though. She’s our baby. She’s not an old soul. She’s not the sort of person you look at and think: this person has seen multitudes. She is fresh and wide-eyed and new, and well, bikes are dangerous creatures best observed from a distance.

But like it or not, she is five and I tell you, she is going to seize five and twist it into pretzels.

rr

 

 

*We didn’t get her a bike. It has taken five years but we have learned at least one thing.

Legal

You know what’s really awesome? Rights.

Also, hearing someone say that my family and I are the ones who changed his marriage equality mind. You guys, you guys, the difference this decision has made for so many lives. It’s miraculous. And to all of you who couldn’t marry and to all the ones who could but couldn’t have it count, congratulations. We have fought. And we have made it. There will be more fighting but we can breathe and prepare and you guys…there just aren’t words for this kind of happiness.

The devastating things bookmark our minds. My mom remembers when Kennedy was shot. When Elvis died. Where she was, what she was doing. I remember the Challenger (in a classroom, watching the launch in a dimmed room on a small screen and not understanding, not at all). I remember September 11th (not 9/11, not where I was, in Africa in a warehouse on a sunny warm afternoon where they huddled us into the Embassy and I didn’t understand yet, not really.) I remember the elation of voting for a woman in a presidential primary (the dark booth, blue curtain, and tears too, a few) and the elation of voting for a black man (the school hallway, the anticipation, the drawing of a dinosaur wearing a safety belt.)

But the profound things, they seep through us. I remember standing on a street corner with my wife when my sister texted the news that we could marry, officially, finally. And I will certainly remember the dull room, the mindless meeting, the way every word blurred into wah wah wah, when I met my wife’s eyes and held up my tablet, SCOTUS decision blazing on the screen. We left together, not discrete in the slightest, to celebrate in the room next door. This is a monumental time to be alive.

RR is so very lucky to grow up in this world. We are so very fortunate. And happy. Blindingly happy. Here’s to all of us.

I’m Not Digging It (Five Dollar Complaint #4)

You know what I’m not digging lately?

The dropping of the civility curtain. If I’m talking to you in person, you’re likely to err on the side of assuming we’re on the same page until proven otherwise. I’m not sure what it is about the digital universe that pulls the curtain aside and permits folks to forget they are talking to another person who, in all likelihood, is not trying to be an asshole.

Speaking of the the digital universe and civility, I’m also not down with folks “engaging in intelligent dialogue” that cloaks judgement, invalidates experiences, or flat-out shares anti-gay sentiment.

Also, what makes you think that I’m okay hearing, “You know I love you but someday we’re going to have a conversation” about the marriage equality decision? Why would I want to discuss my rights with you? There’s no possible outcome that will result in me being happy or you being satisfied. I’m not down with that.

On the home front, my mother came in my house and moved all the furniture away from the walls looking for a phone jack. She didn’t put anything back but left us a half-eaten rotisserie chicken.

My daughter is a five!-year-old going on 15 and still having accidents.

Thumbs down to having to go back to therapy and my mother not going to therapy.

Fuck not being able to sleep at night.

Also, brain cancer.

I’m definitely not okay with feeling checked out (and desperate to check in) – of my garden, of my family, of my life. I’m both over-sensitive and disengaged which is ridiculous and aggravating. I’m not digging it.

For the first time in my life I’m wishing it were winter. You know, that miserable time of year where it’s just come home, cook dinner, enjoy kid, read book, go to sleep, eat breakfast, go to work, repeat.

I’m pretty sure that adds up to more than five dollars. But, as I’m going back the therapy, I’ll need to keep the change.

Even in Her Dreams

RR still has a pretty sizable personal space. She is better than she was (threat level: time bomb at circle time) and she’s usually patient with others’ need to hug and squeeze her (threat level: watch out for her fist). Debra and I have a mostly blanket exemption (threat level: watch yo’self) and she’s generally tolerant of her friends (threat level: that’s enough, now step back). Of course, she did swing a door shut in front of a few schoolmates who came rushing at her yelling HUGS while shouting, “NO HUGS TODAY!.”

All this is to say that her space even extends into her dreams. Nightmares are unusual for her right now but last night she had a weeping explosion around midnight. I heard her suddenly begin to sob and start wailing, “Get away from me! Don’t touch me! NO YOU CANNOT!” over and over. I had mixed feelings while scooping her up to soothe her: If this isn’t the most pitiful, sad thing to hear and bless her heart for staying strong even in her dreams. I hope it lasts til college…

Fortunately, she was down for multiple hugs and kisses and was grinning at me in no time. Even so, no more nightmares, please, RR. I hope you scared the bad things away.

On the Bright Side, That’s Why They Call it an “Opinion”

On the bright side, there’s still a second opinion to be had.

Midway though another crying jag, Debra gently told me that I had to assume the best instead of saying that my dad was going to die (in four to nine months, if the first opinion is to be believed). She was incredibly kind and firm and in that moment I realized that I underestimated her. I thought she was the best person I could have married and I knew she was making me a better person, but it wasn’t until i heard what she was saying and how she was saying it that I realized she’s better than I knew. So on the bright side, I’m really lucky to have married up.

The thing is, I can’t do what she asks. My mother and sisters have moved to a mindset of utter denial. Oh, dad has 5 years at least! When dad is 80 we’ll all have a good laugh about this. Dad and I need to get an RV we can use to travel cross country. Mom. Dad can’t drive. Like, ever, said the doctor. On the bright side, she was just one doctor.

I can tell dad I’m looking forward to father’s day next year but that’s about all I’ve got. Science says that it will be amazing if he gets five years. Actual science. This thing, that people don’t actually survive, doesn’t have miracles. It doesn’t give me comfort to tell myself that the doctor is obviously wrong (sister 1) or that dad is strong enough to beat it (sister 2). He isn’t a healthy, young women. There’s no promise that he’ll be “an exceptional responder”. There is no evidence that this cancer will spare him when it takes everyone else. There is no bright side.

In front of my mother, in front of my father, I am determined. I can believe that he will fight (that he can fight, at least, though he may not choose to). I can believe that he will have the best medical care. I can believe that we will do everything possible to give him as many days as we can squeeze out of this cancer. I can believe that we will take care of my mother through this. I can believe that anything is possible even if I can’t assume it’s probable.

i’ve dug deep trying to reframe denial as hope but it’s not who I am. I am practical. I am driven. I am determined. I am losing my father. On the bright side, I haven’t lost him yet.

Five Dollar Complaint #3

You’ve had those days. The ones where you wake up with a lead weight in your stomach and a sharp sense of dread. I expected to see tomorrow morning come in lighter and more certain but it won’t now, because the appointments for my dad were moved to Thursday. Because the labs aren’t in, again. They expected them last Monday and thought Wednesday at the outside. And when they weren’t done on Wednesday, we were all a bit frustrated but were reassured. Of course they will be in before Tuesday, they said. And then they weren’t. Thursday, they tell us.

This brain cancer. It kills folks in weeks. We’re not talking about being annoyed because our Christmas plans might be spoiled, we’re worried about Father’s Day. Intellectually, I know that, if it really is just a month or two, delayed labs are not the problem. But in the interim, this period without prognosis or treatment, it’s exasperating.

Irather_be_curing_cancer_clock-r7ac0e072eab94b44884a7d3386b7bb82_fup13_8byvr_324

Love Grannie and Pop Pop…

Yesterday I completely dissolved at story time. There we were, flipping back the cover of Library Lion, and reading the inscription.

Dear RR,
Merry Christmas 2014!
Love Pop Pop and Grannie

All the breath whished right out of my lungs. One minute I was breathing and the next I was buried in heavy sand struggling to get air. You know how when you cry with your eyes closed your eyelids fill right up until teaspoons of salt water rush down your face? Somewhere between sand and salt, I sent my daughter to the other room to “hug mama goodnight” or “to have a silent breakdown.”

What if that was the last Love Pop Pop and Grannie book? How can RR grow up without him? Of course she can, but it’s so sad that she won’t. I’m heartbroken for her. I’m heartbroken for myself. I’m heartbroken for my wife.

My father recently proclaimed to her, “You are my favorite son-in-law.” Of course she is, dad, she’s amazing. But oh my god, this is not fair.

Tomorrow I’ll join my mom and dad at the oncologist to get the diagnosis details. The prognosis. Maybe it will be nothing. A terrible mistake. Realistically, it will be just terrible.

How do you not cry? I’d like to save the crying for later and hold it together in the moment. So pass on your words of wisdom. How do you keep from crying?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,022 other followers