Moira turned 11 on Monday. This makes a full 11 years of motherhood.
My girl is ridiculously sweet, sarcastic, funny and fiercely loyal to her friends – but can also be very caustic towards her sisters. She holds herself to a very high standard and has a hard time when other people don’t hold themselves to that same standard. People often comment about how much she is like me but, honestly, I think she is so much better and smarter than I was as a child. (And definitely better looking than I was in the fifth grade.)
It is hard to judge the person you were as a child. Recently I have been back in touch with people from elementary school (I am in the process of planning a reunion) and they have said they remember me as being “kind and funny”. I think that this could be the best compliment I could ever receive and I desperately hope it is true. I worry, I guess, that maybe there were times when I wasn’t as kind as I could have been and I feel like I have spent a lot of my adult years making up for this.
Every birthday the girls go through is bittersweet because I often wonder if it will be the last one I will be around for. I am, of course, ecstatic to be here but the lingering fear always hovers on the edges on the good days, and sits right on my (fragile) chest on the bad ones. Moira was seven when I was diagnosed and to still be here to see her turn 11 is pretty miraculous.
Eleven is such a great age. Sure, the hormones are kicking in and we have fully entered the tween years but the conversations are getting better (and she has always been a great conversationalist), the ability to do more activities together is increasing, and there is such joy in glimpsing the person she may become as an adult. I used to think that I had to leave all sorts of mementos behind for my girls when I died but having this extra time with them has made me realize that puts a sort of pressure on them (and me) they aren’t going to need when they grow up. Not everything from mummy needs to be infused with sentimental value that they feel compelled to cart around for the rest of their lives. I had once thought about writing a journal to each of them with my thoughts but that was a lot of work and what do they need something like that for? Instead I try and do things with them and give them memories – even if, in the future, those memories are vague and hazy – of being loved. My legacy to them will be that I was funny and kind and loved them fiercely. That we celebrated every birthday with the quiet honour it deserved because I was just so grateful to be their mother for whatever amount of time I am given.
I’m trying not to let my current state
prevent me from getting writing done so right now laying in bed with
the laptop on my lap. It isn’t comfortable but it isn’t as painful
as sitting upright either and right now avoiding pain is what I am
Yesterday I took a minor fall down the
stairs which banged me up but, at the time, didn’t seem to cause any
real damage. Except as the day went on an area of my ribs started to
ache and by this morning it was full-blown pain. The chances that I
cracked it are pretty good – after all, I have been know to crack
ribs in my sleep just by laying on my side for too long. This is the
thing with bone metastasis. It’s always there and always reminding me
that it is there. Even when I’m feeling good and am considered stable
my rib bones (where the cancer is) are still weak. I’ve spent the
morning debating calling the oncologist but the last time this
happened they told me to go to my family doctor to get a requisition
for an x-ray and then I had to get the x-ray done and then the x-ray
didn’t show anything because minor cracks and fractures don’t show up
even though they hurt like hell. It showed up a month later though
when I got my bone scan and the evidence of a recent fracture that
was currently healing was right there. Honestly, just thinking about
all those steps has me exhausted and I have to get out of this bed in
10 minutes to make lunch for my kids. There is nothing they can do
for broken ribs anyway although at this point I would take any
painkillers they offered because I don’t have any. Truthfully, the
first couple days after a rib fracture I need the good drugs but I
never have any on hand. This is something I’m going to have to fix at
my next oncology appointment.
Anyway, I went into April feeling
excited and focused (after weeks of the stomach flu going around the
house). I have some pretty intense physio therapy exercises I am
doing to try and fight the complications I have been having from my
mastectomy last August and those are painful but at least they are
helping me work towards a goal. With the rib pain I’m feeling pretty
sorry for myself. I know it will pass but you know that feeling when
the universe feels like it is conspiring against you? Yeah. I’ve got
that feeling. But right now I’m trying to organize a reunion for my
elementary school and I can do a lot of that laying down. Planning an
Harry Potter-theme 11th birthday party that is being held
in two weeks (and I haven’t started planning yet) is going to be more
Also, whenever I am bed-ridden my children freak out because they remember what it was like when I couldn’t get out of bed at all and then the mommy guilt takes over. (Another thing pain does is make one grumpy and, in my case, slow and stupid. It has taken me most of the day to get this blog post out there – my children have long since gone back to school from lunch and I wrongly posted this earlier and it didn’t show up and it took me a while to figure out what I had done wrong.)
In less than a month I’m traveling east to go on a road trip with my sister Amandato Salem, Massachusetts. We are both really excited about this and get to bond over our love of all things witchy and historical. We have rented an AirBnB for five nights and then don’t have anything planned for after that which is taking me WAY out of my comfort zone (I’ve had all our summer vacation and activities planned and booked since early January) but my sister is more adventurous than I am so I’m relying on her to figure things out. (It’s not like I need *everything* planned. I just like to know where I am sleeping and that I will be able to make food instead of eating out a lot.) We also hope to stop in Concord, MA to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott.
Anyone else been to Salem (and area)? We are open to suggestions for things that might not be listed in the touristy guidebooks.