I Made Pictures in My Mind to Remember You

Caution: This post may make you cry. But it may not. It made me cry writing it. So read at your own risk that you may or may not cry. And I promise I tried to put some humor in it. Whether or not you laugh is up to you. So really, you could laugh AND cry. Or neither. The choice is yours, really.

You may have been wondering why I disappeared for a week of guest posters in March. Or why I’ve not been quite as socially active. Or why my posts are lacking that special oomph that makes me me. This is why.

In August of last year, we received a devastating blow. Brian’s mom, who was the nicest and most wonderful lady in the whole world, without a mean bone in her body, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. In layman’s terms, she had a non-smoker’s lung cancer that had already spread.

Until February, she fought and fought and fought. And we both (she and I) believed that she would fight it, kill it, and stomp on its grave. That stupid cancer. We spent a lot of time talking about how she was going to make this cancer wish it had never paid her a visit. She was strong. But February came, and reality set it.

The cancer was taking over.

Cancer. Was. Taking. Over.

On March 23, the world lost a fine lady, and Heaven gained an angel. It sucks. Cancer sucks.

But I am lucky. Lucky that I knew her. Lucky that I spent as much time as I did with her. For a while we were spending most of our weekends with Mom. And while there may not be a lot of photographic evidence, I have pictures in my mind. Lots of them. Sweet ones and funny ones. And those will live on forever. I am lucky.

But I’m still sad. And while she wasn’t my own mom, she was family. And I loved her.

One of the best pictures, though, is not a picture in my mind. It’s a real picture. After surgery, she couldn’t walk very well, but I promised to take her to the grocery store. I promised to teach her how to ride the driving cart at the store. Surprised that I knew how to maneuver it so well (Thanks to my Mom, my Gram, and my own silly injuries), she became less reluctant to try it out (Because she didn’t see me almost get hit by a car on my way into the parking lot) and she was ready for it. If I could do it, so could she.

So we had a grocery adventure, Brian’s mom and I. Just the two of us.

Driving like a rock star. She had a great teacher, you know...

And then we had more driving cart adventures. Because we could. But those are all brain pictures. And not real pictures. Lucky for me, I’ve got a pretty colorful brain.

Blog Friends, tell us about someone you love. Tell us a memory. Tell us about a picture in your brain.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Eleventh Commandment

Dear Chrissy’s Readers,

This is Katie from Words for Worms. Chrissy isn’t here writing today. She and Brian have suffered a terrible blow. Brian’s mom, who had been battling cancer for the past 7 months, passed away early Saturday morning.

My first instinct when someone loses a loved one is to find out if there’s anything I can do to help. The impotence of the situation is maddening. My friends are hurting and there’s not a damn thing I can do to fix it. So, when Chrissy asked for a guest post, I jumped at the chance. She said that she and Brian want to laugh, and I freaking love these guys, so I’m going to give it a shot. So. Here goes nothing…

I’m pretty sure the 11th commandment is “Feed The Grieving.” This is a universal cultural phenomenon. Seriously y’all. I think cavemen dropped off a nice Wooly Mammoth hot dish to the neighboring cave in times of mourning. People empathize, but they also realize (if they’re smart) that all their words of comfort won’t make the loss any easier. Thus? They feed. When local friends lose someone, I bust out my tried and true chocolate chip cake. Sometimes a pot of chili. I don’t even like cooking, but THAT’S WHAT YOU DO. You feed people! You know what sucks? I’m currently too far away to feed Chrissy and Brian! (Although, they’re probably thankful for that, because they’re foodies and I’m a doctored up cake mix kind of girl…)

After sitting through the tri-fecta of sad funeral songs, sometimes you just NEED chocolate cake. In my experience, the songs that are indelibly linked with funerals are “How Great Thou Art,” “On Eagle’s Wings,” and “Amazing Grace.” In fact, my husband’s aunt once told me that she wanted “How Great Thou Art” played at her funeral because (and this is a direct quote) “It’ll make people cry even if they didn’t like me.” (She’s one feisty broad.) The thing is, even if I swear off these songs for my own funeral (which I fully intend to plan because I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with that) I couldn’t use songs I love- it would ruin those songs for people! I’ve decided that I’m going to have songs I hate at my funeral, so that everyone else will hate them too. Celine Dion’s greatest hits shall play. Everyone’s hearts will go on, and nobody’s favorite songs will be sullied by sad funerary memories…

I’m terrible at funerals. Even if the deceased aren’t my loved ones, I see a single grieving family member and melt into a puddle. It’s hard enough when you lose someone in their 80s, but losing someone far too young to cancer? That’s just CRAP. Cancer sucks. Hard. If Cancer were a dude, I would kick it in the nads really hard. Stupid little mutant cells. You’re not even COOL mutants like the X-Men! You’re just mean and dumb and grow out of control and RUIN LIVES. Nobody is impressed by your rampant proliferation, Cancer. You think you’re all high and mighty, but you’re no super virus. Step back, loser disease, before I kick you again.

I hope you all will join me in sending loving, healing vibes to Chrissy and Brian. I hope you will also join me in sending angry, poisonous vibes to Cancer. Brian’s mom was Irish, so while googling some comforting words of wisdom, I found this gem on a website of Irish proverbs, “If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.” Praying that your shoes are sturdy. I love you both.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Confession Friday: Cancer isn’t Funny…But I Might Be

Yesterday, in an effort to relieve the back pain that I’ve been in all week, I went to see my favorite massage therapist in the whole world. C has been there for me through the years. Through the boyfriends, the jobs, the sprains, and the slips. He’s my therapeutic rock. Not only do I get an hour to two hours of his time every month while he kneads the pain out of my back, neck, shoulders, and anything else that hurts, but the time is also well spent in conversation. It’s like therapy. Only better.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw C. I had just joined Massage Envy (If you ever decide to join–use me as your reference!!) and had seen a few different therapists. When I saw C for the first time, he asked if I had a regular therapist. I told him, “nope! I just see whoever is available.”

His next words to me were, “Let’s see if we can change that.”

Since that day, I’ve been a C-fan without question. I feel like I’m cheating on C whenever I go to a different therapist (and since his hours correlate with the normal working hours of normal people, when I have a full time gig, no C for me.) Regardless of his Wisconsin-loving Bear-hating ‘tude, he’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. Plus he thinks I’m really funny.

With the back pain this week, I tried to get in all week. Finally I was squeezed in this morning. JOY! As we chatted and C beat the crap out of Angry Lower Back, this conversation played itself out:

Me: “Sometimes, I think I’m a hypochondriac, but then I realize that I have legit pain…”

C: “Hypochondriacs feel legit pain. But I don’t think that you’re a hypochondriac.”

Me: “So, if I think that I’m a hypochondriac, does that mean that I am?”

C: “No, if you were a hypochondriac, you’d come up with more interesting ailments.”

Me: “But what if I’m a lazy hypochondriac?”

C: “So you would have come up with a disease, but you didn’t feel like Googling your symptoms?  I don’t buy it.”

Me: “Well, I could just say it’s all cancer. Like that angry ball in my lower back. It’s a tumor right?”

C: “Yep. Tumor. Definitely. You should have a fundraiser to pay for all of your medical bills and care. Then you can give me a cut of the money, when you’re magically cured.”

Me: “OK. So, massage therapy will cure my cancer. Then you can give me a cut of the money from all your new clients. When can we start?”

OBVIOUSLY, we were both joking around. But it’s nice to have a therapist who totally gets my humor. A massage therapist, that is.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Cancer Sucks

Relay for Life Hope

Relay for Life

When I was 8, my grandfather was diagnosed with a skin cancer called malignant melanoma, By the time they found it, it had already metastasized in other places and the outlook was not so promising. I remember him being sick, and sometimes he was all there…other times he was not.

I don’t remember a whole lot of the bad stuff, but I remember shortly before he passed away, he gave Mom some money to “go buy the kids something.” So we went to Walgreens and another store. I got a pair of shoes that I loved and a mini Christmas tree (20 years later, I still put it up religiously). My brother also got a mini Christmas tree and something else.

I also remember the day that he died. We were at the hospital. I hugged him. He told me he loved me. He used to call me Christinie Christinie Jelliebeanie (which is why I occasionally use the pseudonym Jelliebean and why Penny calls me Bean). We went home to the house, with the intention to return. My uncle called and told us that he would be gone before we came back. But we had said our goodbyes, so it was okay. I remember it being sad, but I don’t think I cried. I didn’t cry a whole lot then. I guess that in my adulthood, I’ve made up for my lack of childhood tears.

At my grandfather’s wake, tons of people showed up. I was a kid, and there was a play area. So I wanted to play. I didn’t quite realize what was going on. When my school pals showed up with their moms, I would ask if they wanted to play with me, but the moms would all look at me funny, and say that they were just there for a short time and needed to pay their respects. I just wanted to eat cookies and play with toys.

Of course, the day of the funeral came, and I remember my older cousin Jennifer crying a lot. I didn’t understand. I realized then that I should be crying too. So I tried to cry. But I couldn’t. So I just sat there with her. Wishing I could cry.

Yup; cancer sucks.

Last night, my Chicago Bears (and those pesky Dallas Cowboys) were the first to sport their pink shoes and accessories to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness…Yes, that’s right, you’re about to get splashed hard with the pink bug. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A disease that my family knows all too well. My sister (who, by blood, is actually my dad’s cousin’s daughter) recently had most of her lady parts removed because she has the breast cancer gene. Her mother, her grandmother, her aunts, her cousins–all my family, too–have been affected.

Now, it’s on both sides of my family. Fucking breast cancer.

Today, I’m asking the blogosphere to send out good Juju to my family. Whatever works for you is happily accepted here. Prayers, thoughts, well-wishes, good juju. From the bottom of my heart, thanks.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!