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.


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?

Five Dollar Complaint #2

delicate balance

There is a delicate balance here.

While we were on vacation, both sisters, my mother, and my aunt stayed in our house. Since my mom and dad took our spare bed, there is only our bed to sleep in.

When we arrived home, we realized that the rug had been moved and the bed had been moved. Just slightly but in no way that could have been an accident, given the heavy furniture on the other side of the rug. Today, one side of the bed base collapsed.

Come on man.

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It’s Not A Tumor******

Let’s talk about the things you don’t say over text. 

I’m losing the leg.*
Grandma is dead.**
Only the coyotes know what happened to your cat.***
Mom got hit by a suburban.****
Oh the dog wandered off weeks ago. He’s probably dead.****
Dad has a brain tumor.*****

That’s a lot of asterisks so let me break it down for you:

* – this did not happen but it’s reasonable to expect it probably could given **** and *****
** – actually the text was “grandma fell and hit head. been in hospital two days. doesn’t look good.”
*** – phone call, pre-text. The last time anyone in my family handled things in a reasonable way.
**** – actual texts.
***** – also an actual text. received yesterday following an annual physical.

Rather than talk about the fact that I’m on a desperately needed vacation and sharing gorgeous pictures, I’m telling you this so that you can help lighten my load by telling me all of the worst texts you’ve ever received or, barring that, the worst texts you can imagine sending. Bonus points for originality. And, because I know you want to know, it is a tumor******. Operating tomorrow to remove it. Then a biopsy. Then we can get down to panic. I’m still at the beach and feeling like a complete asshole for not zipping back to his side. But with my sisters and aunt flying in to support my mom, and with my constant assumption that every time I see my parents (or my wife, or my daughter, etc.) will be the last time, I feel like I’m good in the goodbye department, if that’s actually the case.

So yeah, at the beach. Was having a lovely time. Now a lovely but worried time. Please, your worst texts…and, GO!

Summer Time Blues

I was going to tell you all about how awesome RR was and then I realized you already knew that and so I decided to tell you how awesome I’m not instead. Well, it’s not that I’m not. But I don’t feel awesome. Right now I feel overwhelmed and trapped and disappointed. So, yeah, I’m a lot of fun.

Today we took RR to the doc for shots and we came away with, yes, shots, but also increases in all of our respective medications. Sadly, there’s not much to say about it except that mental health is a fragile thing and I thought I had mine squared away but it never really is. It’s frustrating to feel like I can never quite grip the slippery synapses and twist them together so that they’ll stick. And with me it’s not a big splash of crazy (anymore) it’s a slow skid around the bend. So when the doctor asked if I had been sleeping and, well, I hadn’t, not well, and then wondered if I might be on edge at work and I remembered a recent and uncharacteristic (anymore) outburst, I felt the world sort of fold in around me for a minute. Like, didn’t I fix this already? Why can’t I just be like everyone else? 

There wasn’t time or reason to wallow. It’s just me. This is what I get. And so, just a few more chemicals to balance things out because everything else has been a little bit of a false promise. Exercise, mindfulness, no sugar, etc, etc, ad infinitum – it works until it doesn’t. The drugs do. I admit though, I’m always expecting them to stop working. Not expecting. Fearing. 

But that day isn’t today. So onward. Let me tell you how brave and wonderful my daughter is: We took RR for shots and she didn’t even cry. She announced she would be brave and she was. The best thing about 4 and 3/4 has been brave. Also, we’re spending the next week and a half together (equal parts wonderful and terrifying) AND she has only had ONE accident in the last 6 days.

Brave. And completely awesome.