It’s Tuesday and I’m sitting on a concrete bench in front of a little lake occupied by turtles and ducks. The turtles are harder to spot, but having grown up in the land of 10,000 lakes, I’ve had plenty of practice catching their little heads pop up for air while their bodies stay submerged under water. The ducks, on the other hand, are a bit too comfortable with human existence for my liking; encroaching on my space to the point where I fear they may go for a finger if not offered a bread cube I am forbidden to offer.
I understand their frustration – there is a sign posted by the lakeshore, as if written by the ducks, that says “please don’t feed us.” After years of being fed with the bread offered by gleeful children and adults, they are now left to scavenge for the food they don’t really want, but is better for their health. My dog has the same frustrations with human food not being offered to her…although there is no sign posted on our premises that purports to be her saying “please don’t feed me your human food.” She just takes a bite of your cheese stick if you don’t offer her a portion of it within her desired timeframe, and she carries no shame about the act. Neither duck nor dog has actually bitten my finger, but I still don’t trust either to not do so. (wow – tangent) to be read as (avoiding real feelings that are too hard to process).
Directly across the lake is the first condo building my realtor showed me ten years ago, when I was looking to buy a home for my kids and I to plant roots in for the remainder of their growing up with me years. I didn’t like or buy the condo – although it did have a great walk-in closet in the master bedroom – but I had forgotten how much I love this secret lake that seems oddly staged in the middle of suburbia. And I found it interesting that it was here I landed today when I needed a safe place to land and sort out my head. Note to self: Must come here more often.
I remember falling in love with this lake back then. It felt serene and peaceful and pure; everything I wanted for us. I remember imagining my kids fishing off the little makeshift pier and the memories we would build together. They were so little then. Life was so different and full of promise. A fresh start for us as a family of three; a community they could grow up and thrive in. We eventually found that community a few home showings later, and close by – and my kids have both grown and thrived, but they hold no ties to this lake or space, yet that doesn’t stop me from telling them the same boring “mom story” every time we drive by.
How could they know what I wanted for them then? This is what I find myself pondering as I sit my ass on gravel so my back can rest against the concrete bench that has no back support…that and the fact that I also have no sensible shoes and can barely walk. At this point I am seriously wondering if the cancer has spread to my bones…I have seemingly aged ten years in three months (another tangent, but getting closer to real feelings).
Back to the peaceful lake, and the turtles and ducks, and all that both was and was not that is currently swirling through my head. My children exist there in my memories and visions of this lake, but in reality they were merely babies trying to understand what it meant to live without both parents and in an entirely new place.
Someday they may come visit and sit at this lake, likely after I am dead and gone, and they will yearn to feed the ducks; try to spot the turtle heads, and have the “remember when mom said…” memories that will make them smile amid their tears; but for now these moments are all mine, just as some things in our lives are meant to be at certain times.
In 18 days I’ll be having a double mastectomy. Now that it actually feels real, I’m trying to figure out how I feel about it, and mostly I am schizophrenic. At first I thought I didn’t care, and wasn’t even considering reconstruction. Fuck You was all I could feel. Then I graduated to deciding that some fresh boobs might be nice. If I’m being as honest as I can be, I was never a fan of these current ones anyways, and especially hate them now that they are filled with cancer. And now that it is getting more real, I am scared as fuck.
I think what I’m starting to mourn now is the loss of those breasts that fed both of my children, but I don’t know for sure if those are my feelings or the feelings of someone else’s blog I read. Maybe I’m just nostalgic because of where I’m sitting right here and right now, looking at my surroundings and remembering how hard I fought then for me and for us…and how proud I was to have done it all on my own. The only thing I know for sure is that I am filled with emotions and fears; anger and tears; the complete messiness of life that makes us real. So what is there to mourn in being human?
I can put on a brave face, but it’s fake. I have decided that either way is OK. I think I’m also figuring out that I can’t and don’t have to be anything for anybody else right now – I just need to be 100% behind of and in support of myself, because I need to love and embrace every part of me to get through this.
Nobody else can do this for me. Some things we have to just fight through and trust in ourselves. We buy the condo or we don’t. We do the best we can with who we are in the moment. And the only way out is through.