Yes. I love them even more now


This day began rough for Young J. I hadn’t seen him so out of sorts in a long time. It was painful. But I am absolutely in no state to yell. I can’t even be in a loud place. So I begged him, pleaded him, to reset himself in his room. I had caught him too late to use our long-time technique to correct a bad wakeup (“Hey, can you go to your room and find Happy J? He must be in there somewhere!”). This was DEFCON15 and it frightened me.

By the time we left the house, Young J found an ant – lately he likes holding ants – and was in Zen calm. I have so much respect for him, pulling that off. I could learn from this kid.

They seem a little clingier in the morning at school. Young A asked for about 15 hugs this morning before letting me go. Luckily, this is now my full time job. I dole out as many hugs as requested. And now they’re both in school all day, much less snack preparation for anyone but me. Snacks… I’m so into food. I could spend a lifetime making up for last fall. (There’s just the small matter of medicine mouth making things taste not perfect. Unfortunately, the things that do taste perfect are mostly fried.)

I spent intense amounts of time with great people having great conversations all morning. When I got home, Rosa (not real name) was here cleaning. I haven’t seen her in months, and now I had news. We sat down and talked for an hour. I have been speaking Spanish my entire life, but today I was worried. Could I? Would my brain let me?

It was wooden. There were many words missing, conjugations missed the train, and excessively fancy words stepped in. Rosa has always had high praise for my Spanish, and she said it was fine. I remembered how to say “immune system.” But I knew better – this was total pidgin. (And I know I should avoid at all costs speaking Italian for the next couple months, because the idea of losing even temporarily the language closest to my soul would ruin me.)

I made my way to bed. My hands and feet were freezing. It was 2 pm and I should have just taken the fickle Lorazepam and slept. I find that particular sleep comes with too much of a fight though, both down and back up. But my biggest problem with sleep is phone. If I power it down I only power it back on, because I forgot to send a twelve-paragraph email.

Around 4 it seemed like a good idea to just stay awake. I had promised J basketball tonight. He wasn’t going to miss it again. I’d go the distance for him. By dinner I was really fading and had to turn off lots of lights and make everyone eat in near-darkness. I inhaled two burgers, some salad. And then it was time for J to leave.

I wouldn’t say it was dread. I would say maybe mild dread, ok. I didn’t know how tired they were. There were things I had negotiated no’s to (like baths – couldn’t deal) which eventually became contentious. Connect 4 was somehow broken and this was a big and terrible metaphor! (For Young A.)

Young J, on the other hand? After an inauspicious start to the day, was poised to have an incredible evening. At dinner he asked where sticks come from. Just sticks in the park. I wound up talking about reasons the branches are shaped the way they are, capillaries inside the branches, a suddenly received world of botanic knowledge I don’t actually have. Apparently I can bullshit my way through anything now, with the power of pharmaceuticals? I was not saying anything untrue, but it didn’t sound accurate either.

After dinner he unleashed a volley of questions for the rabbi from his school. We rushed to Facebook to send them to him. None were about anything related to me or illness or death. They were pretty much all God.

I perceived a sudden uptick in the discourse with this 8 year old. I decided to read him my last blog post, about the directionality of good and evil and how I want the cancer to pop out of my head and disappear. I did not clarify that any of this was metaphorical. I think he understood. And of course, loved the photo of our neighbors’ dog. For his final magic trick, he asked to spend 15 minutes typing a story of his own. I set him up and when he was done, I helped him save his first story in Word. That felt special too.

I had to entertain the kids somehow before sending them to bed. If only for a minute. I’d been telling Young J he could learn to touch type, and I wanted to show him what a fast typist looked like. That used to be me, 110 wpm. Apparently another casualty of my brain right now is that. Still, we went on TypeRacer and I got to win (even though I did terribly). I got my kids to cheer for me – that can’t be wrong.

Bedtime took a bit, but it happened. Just before lights out, some very dark humor about the cancer exploding from my brain came about, and Young A in particular was chortling so hard I had to repeat it a few times.

Truth. I’m an irreverent sick person. But I’ll do anything for a laugh from these kids, because they are saving me, and how can you say no?

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