Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Mom died just before midnight last night. Talked with all my siblings, cried a lot, got a really bad headache from the crying, and then finally fell asleep.
Mom did not want a funeral. But last night I gave her about 12 of them, including one at sea and one in space. I also spent weeks in the hospital with a friend, adopted a baby, redecorated my house completely--including moving it to a seaside location--was witness to a large drug bust (the first time I took my adopted baby out for a walk, which distressed me since my gods I'd just taken on all this responsibility), and helped some kids from out of town locate the nursing home where their grandma was admitted.
Considering that I only slept about three hours, my brain had a very busy night. That was some wild dreaming. The only bad part was that when I woke up the part about Mom being dead was still real.
Monday, November 03, 2014
I spent last week in Montana getting my mother settled into hospice. Today they called to inform me that they expect her to die in the next 36-48 hours.
2014 is completely fired.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
A year ago, Team Becca participated in the CureSearch Walk. We were a sea of purple, led by a lively and laughing 5-year-old who ran wild on the grass, chasing other children, teasing her uncles, getting tossed in the air and squealing in delight. We were a worried but hopeful group of family and friends, laughing and chatting and enjoying a sunny day. We had raised a record $11,000+ for CureSearch, and no one could have guessed that our giggling 5-year-old was a cancer patient.
The other families who were there probably thought, "Look at them; they're innocent children, playing at cancer. They have no idea what's coming."
And we didn't. Because, despite a completely successful tumor removal, aggressive proton radiation therapy, and chemo, 10 months later we buried Rebecca, who died on her sixth birthday. Her anaplastic astrocytoma reemerged in multiple sites in her brain, inoperable this time, and she did not respond to the experimental drug trial. On the first Sunday of June, her family held her birthday party a week early. She had her face painted and rode in the rocket car shouting, "faster, faster!"
The following Saturday, surrounded by loved ones, Rebecca died. If love had been enough to keep her alive, Rebecca would be thriving now. As it was, we all watched this spunky, spitfire of a child, who was never really ill, and agonized in frustration that we were powerless in the face of this cancer.
It was like watching her stand on a train track with the train rushing toward her, with nothing we could do to stop or even slow it.
For Rebecca, we can but mourn now. The grief remains overwhelming. But in her memory, we can do our best to save other families from suffering such a terrible loss.
Raising money for CureSearch this year has been agonizing. Every time I write about it, I am pretty much wrecked for the rest of the day. But it's worth it, because thanks to you amazing people Team Becca has raised over $8,700 so far. We only have 3 more days to go before the walk, and I think it would be a fitting tribute to raise $10,000 in her memory.
Thank you, all you amazing people who have contributed so far. To see my donations page jump to almost $3,500 is humbling. Your generosity overwhelms me.
Monday, August 25, 2014
This summer has been a real challenge between grief and back injury. I lost my inertia, and for the last few weeks just haven't managed to do anything. So I decided that this week was going to be me getting back on track.
I got up this morning a bit later than I'd intended--but at least I'd slept well! I'd wanted to be out the door to the pool by 9, but it was actually a little after 10. For a moment I thought about letting it go, but instead I jumped up, yanked on my suit, threw a pair of gym shorts and a tank over it, grabbed my pool bag and headed out.
Things I remembered:
2. Swim cap
3. Heartrate monitor
Things I forgot:
1. Flip flops
2. Underwear for when I changed
3. A TOWEL
When I realized this, I thought briefly of running home. But then I realized that if I did, I'd probably never get out of the house again. So I went ahead and swam, then just came home "commando." It was a good swim, and I feel like I started the week right!
Friday, August 15, 2014
1. Italians love their dogs. We saw dogs everywhere. Including in restaurants and shops. In Venice, many of them weren't even on leashes, just walking with their owners (no cars, no worry of being hit). And they were almost all well-behaved; only a couple of barking incidents. Most of the dogs were mutts, clear crossbreeds often involving dachshunds someplace. Seeing people in the grocery store with their dog in the cart or on a leash was pretty awesome.
2. Italians don't work out. The entire time we were there I saw three joggers, all of them tourists, and one gym, which was empty. Yet the people were all pretty fit. I believe there are two reasons behind this. First of all, there was almost no fast food (though McDonalds were dishearteningly ubiquitous), so most of the food these people eat is fresh and unprocessed. Secondly, they walk everywhere. Even in the areas of Rome where there were four lane, main thoroughfares there was relatively little traffic. But lots of people on their feet on the street.
3. All the amazing sites in Rome are actually pretty easy to get to on foot, once you get a lay of the land. We stayed in an apartment off the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps), and it took us a couple of days to realize, but everything was pretty much within a mile or two. The map of Rome that we were provided was all but useless to us because it was so small as to be almost illegible and kind of resembled a plate of spaghetti. But on the evening after we visited Eataly (a sort of death march for which I take the blame because I didn't just follow my first instinct and say, "We go this way!"), when we took a cab to a restaurant that had come highly recommended, and then tried to find a Metro station that was noted on Google maps (inaccurately, curse you Google) (but at least we were wise enough to leave DH's mom, Patricia, with younger daughter Amy seated comfortably in a nice piazza), we learned from a waiter (whose restaurant was in the very spot that the Metro wasn't) that the closest Metro stop was Piazza di Spagna. (He was quite baffled when we let out a cheer instead of expressing dismay). And then the cab ride took us right up to this large castle, which he told me was San Angelo, and past some impressive palace looking thing, then half a mile later he was dropping us off and I raced to the map to see what this thing was that was so close by and, oh look, The Vatican. At that point I had an idea of scale and realized that the Pantheon was easily within walking distance. And, after having spent a confused hour trying to locate it the first day we were looking for it, we ended up at Trevi Fountain by accident at least twice.
4. While Venice is decidedly smaller than Rome, though, it is much tougher to navigate on foot. The water bus is awesome, because it takes you all around the island and also to the other islands. But once you are on foot, you are in a maze. A lovely, fascinating, picturesque maze in which you stumble upon delights regularly. But still a maze. We quickly developed a sense of how to get to shopping areas and restaurants and churches from our apartment--and more importantly, back. But attempting to walk across the island, even though it really isn't very far, was pretty much a no-go. We were on the outer shore, very convenient to the water buses, but a long way from San Marco square. So on our last day we rode over to San Marco square and began making our way through the streets, thinking to work our way to the Grand Canal, and then bushwhack with the aid of the map back toward our apartment. After a couple enjoyable hours of shopping, though, it was getting hot and Pat was getting tired, so we decided to ask about where we were.
We were 5 minutes fro San Marco Square. We had very determinedly walked in a circle. Despite taking only right turns and trying to go straight. So we returned to the square and took the water bus back. I am thinking of the place as a Venice Fly Trap.
6. Venice makes the best meringues in the world. And they are the size of your head. I only indulged in one. But I wanted more.
7. On our last night in Venice, I decided to get adventuresome with the local cuisine. So I started my dinner with sweet and sour sardines and then had cuttlefish in black sauce. The sweet and sour sardines were delicious. Everyone at the table enjoyed them. The cuttlefish in black sauce was...well, I appreciated that I had tried something so very different. And that other people at the table were willing to share a few bites of their dinner so that I didn't go hungry. But it made me happy. Because if I don't occasionally have something that I don't like, I am not really challenging my palate.
8. A woman in the restaurant on that last night was carrying on a lively conversation in French with a little boy. Then her phone rang and she rattled along in Italian. Then she spoke to me in decent English. I was embarrassed by my lack of local literacy. Older daughter Erin had a similar incident in Eataly when she was waiting behind a couple to whom the clerk was speaking in Spanish, in which she is moderately fluent, then turned to her and spoke in Italian. She sort of froze, unable to summon any language, so he tried again in English. We really are bumbling around the world trying to speak SLOWLY AND LOUDLY ENOUGH.
10. Still, people were indulgent with the tiny bit of Italian we attempted to speak. And for the most part incredibly friendly. A few times I felt like they were refraining from patting us on the head or pinching our cheeks and telling us how adorable our atrocious attempts were. But we got through, and had fun.
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