See Ways Cancer Doesn’t Suck: Fox News Edition for installment one of Silver Linings.
When I wrote the first silver linings post I figured that it would be the only one. After all, cancer fucking sucks and there is nothing, nothing, good about it. Turns out there’s another sort of slush-grey lining.
My mom is trying harder.
I admit that I rely on Debra more than I should. A lot more. I think in most relationships there is some give and take. For instance, I think she is only sort of aware of where the toilet cleaner is. My faults are too many to mention. My mom checked out of almost everything years ago. She used to pay the bills, buy groceries, drive, have primary care responsibilities for my sister and I, work full-time, etc. And then…not. Perhaps her mental health got the better of her. Perhaps it was just easier to focus on hobbies. I think the former is what prompted the latter.
My dad was diagnosed in June with a 15 month life expectancy. When the doctor said that, I think we all, to some degree, managed to forget that it wasn’t 15 months of perfect health. We didn’t get perfect health from day one. The decline hasn’t been all that gradual. It’s like the bandaid that you slowly pull off – not fast enough for a clean break but not slow enough to spare you the worst of the hair and skin tugging.
He and my mom have wills, powers of attorney, financial plans, insurance. Unfortunately, they are not the most savvy with money-based decision makers so I’m not so certain that there won’t be money-related tears in the end. Still, my mom has begun to turn a corner. She has started to email the nurses using full sentences. It sounds less like she’s typing while running away and more like she’s remembering how to be polite, firm, specific, determined, involved.
Involved. She’s tuning back into the details of life. I don’t think she’ll ever be comfortable but this in-between time, the can’t-rely-on-my-daughters-yet-because-my-husband-is-still-alive-and-we-are-still-independent time is helping to shift her into the person she was before. I’m proud of her for facing her aversion to making and receiving phone calls, her ability to remember that diplomacy sometimes helps, even in adversity, and that it’s still important to be kind to the people that are helping you.
So that’s the slushy, ashy, gravely silver lining brought to you by 8 months still alive.