I complain a lot. I don’t mean to. I just have this forked tongue that wags and drips acid and tends to say things before the filters kick in and go NO, DON’T DO IT, IT’S A TRAP. Because of this slightly, erm, “jaded” perspective, I can be seen as sarcastic or bitter or pessimistic. I don’t know the proper word to use here, but you know what I’m saying. I am not a ray of sunshine. This week? The goodness of people has been humbling. Actually, the last month or so it’s been humbling.
Your hostess, a creature of Blackened Word Viscera, is at a loss. And it’s a great thing that I’m so off-kilter.
I’ve not been quiet about my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. It’s a big deal for her, for her family, and talking about it helps me cope with it. Needless to say, it’s rocked our small worlds not because we anticipate the worst, but because no matter how you say the sentence “I have cancer” it has impact. It’s like the OPPOSITE of “I have won the lottery and wish to buy you a sparkle pony farm!” Your stomach drops, your hands clench into fists, and you batten down the hatches. The thing that’s amazing–HUMBLING, OH-MY-DEAR-GOD-I-LOVE-PEOPLEing, GOOD TEARS WORTHYing–is how folks who aren’t Mom’s immediate circle are handling this. In some cases, STRANGERS who don’t know my mum are stepping up to the plate.
Witnessing the love dropping on my mother’s doorstep like an anvil of joy is definitely not something I expected. It’s something that’s hard to compute, but that’s okay. I don’t have to compute it. I have to appreciate it and I do.
So. Thank you. Friends, friends of the family, kind strangers. THANK YOU.
To all of the people who have sent my mother messages, cards, flowers, internet hugs, and support-by-proxy–you have no idea how valuable it is. Not just to her, but to the people who are standing beside her to see this disease beaten into a pile of slosh. The empathy, the kind sentiments. You guys are like positivity fonts (SPELLCHECK CLAIMS POSITIVITY IS NOT A WORD BUT I DISAGREE ON ACCOUNT OF TEAM “KICK CANCER IN THE TACO”) and we siphon that energy and make it our own when the days get hard. And sometimes they do get hard and they’re going to get harder. You’re like fuel lines of awesome when our own resources dwindle. Thank you so much for every prayer and good wish.
To the stranger lady that randomly sat next to my mother in the hospital and, upon finding out Mom’s diagnosis, told her that it’d be okay before showing her the scars from her own breast cancer surgery–thank you. It’s one thing for Mom to hear that she’ll be okay from a bunch of people who’ve never walked in her shoes. It’s another thing to hear that she’ll be okay from a survivor who can answer questions. Who can say she lived it and understands it and that “You’re gonna be just fine.” That woman was in the right place at the right time to ease a lot of my mom’s worries. So executive banker lady who flashed my mom her boobs in a public place? You rule. Keep on flashing on.
Lauren Neuman is an OLD, OLD friend of mine who stepped up to the plate with her knitting skills and made my mom a beanie hat. Lauren’s never met my mother, but she took time out of her day and money from her own pocket to buy the yarn so she could make something warm and soft for my mom’s head. The hat arrived the exact week Mom sheered herself so timing couldn’t have been better. Lauren insisted how easy it was to do, and how she was happy to do it, but this was such a random, thoughtful thing. People don’t just do stuff like that. So again, Lauren, thank you.
To the lady in the car in front of Mom and I on Saturday who saw Mom wearing her cancer beanie and insisted on paying our coffee and breakfast sandwich tab. Never saw her face, she just saw my mother’s little hat and we got free breakfast from the deal. It wasn’t expected but it was certainly appreciated. And hey, to Mom’s credit, she gave HER money to the kid at the drivethrough and paid for the next car’s coffee. Shit might roll downhill but so does the charitable spirit.
To Deborah Ann, who leaves my mother ridiculous little pictures to brighten the day. They are silly but they’re uplifting. She also made Mum a calendar of my mother’s hounds dressed up in costumes. Because us basset people are weird and are totally fine with pictures of our dogs wearing Sherlock Holmes outfits. Deborah Ann gets that.
To TEE SHIRT LADY on Etsy. Mom ordered a tee shirt with a custom design, the woman and Mom got talking, the diagnosis came up, and the lady refused to take Mom’s money–told her to “advertise her Etsy shop” as payment. Well, here’s another plug. This lady makes really neat stuff and she was amazeballs to my sick mom. Want some cool tee shirts? VISIT TEE SHIRT LADY AND PURCHASE VALUABLE PRIZES. Reward the folks who deserve the rewards.
To Wendy LaFrance who Mom has said, “has been amazing.” Sharing stories, offering information and experience, being funny and supportive and wonderful and a go-to for Mom. Mom’s mentioned how important that is to her, so it’s important to me by proxy. Thank you, Wendy. Also, Hope looks like Lulu and I feel this makes you my tribe. Butterscotch basset gang signs, yo. #fistbump
To Michelle Davis, my mom’s hairdresser at Rejuvenations Salon & Day Spa in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who, upon trimming my mom’s hair down real short in anticipation of chemo fuckery, refused to take money for her services. She also wouldn’t take money when Mom asked her to cut down her wigs so they weren’t so floofy. She did a lot of work for no compensation because times are hard. Thank you, Michelle, from the kid. Because the kid thinks you’re a rockstar.
To Other Michelle (Michelle Crispo) who’s always been a helper around Casa du Cole but went full-fledged superstar post Mom’s diagnosis. When Mom found out that she’d be on a different budget for the foreseeable future on account of how disability works, she said she might not be able to keep Michelle around if things got tight. The answer, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll still come.” So this woman would come and clean the house with or without the promise of pay? Right. Okay, you should be, like, sainted. I don’t want to clean MY OWN house never mind someone else’s. Thumbs way, way up to Michelle for her kindness.
To the staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth–Mom’s said you’ve been wonderful and kind and positive. Thank you for taking such good care of her and seeing her through this. I know this is how rumors get started on the internet and stuff, but I’m kind of fond of Mom and would like to keep her around so we can sit in the old people home together and argue about what to watch on TV. Your skills are going to make that happen. As such, I am raining Skittles and kittens upon you in veneration.
And last but by no means least, thank you to MY friends who’ve kept ME afloat so the stress monster doesn’t gobble me up. For all that I’m not carrying Mom’s load, I’m still twitchier than a live-wired cat, and y’all are keeping my ass sane. I love you all and thank you from the bottom of my tiny dark heart. When my world domination plans come to fruition, you guys will definitely get cabinet spots. Or, you know, knighted or some crap.