boobs on ice, or something like that

I’m a day or two shy, give or take, of finding out what all this weirdness is going to mean. It’s been a struggle to get my words on both paper and screen this time around…I think the thoughts hit too close to the heart so I’m almost afraid to think or feel them, let alone solidify them by writing them down. I want the unknown to become known; and, comma, I’m also scared shitless about what the almost known is going to feel like when it becomes the for real known.

I don’t really know how to talk about it much at all. Three biopsies down and two more to go because there is, apparently, a lot of hide-and-seek going on in the breasticular area of my body. And the seeking keeps producing more “gotcha” little pussy hiding mother fuckers who can’t just step up and be who they are. They seem to act like finding them is akin to scoring the golden easter egg or the winning lottery ticket when in actuality it’s more like getting a D- on that chemistry test you were sure you had aced.

I feel stupid for sitting here and crying because I don’t even know what I’m crying about yet. I don’t know how to be scared or how to worry – those things just aren’t really part of my blueprint – but something tells me I should be inviting them both in for a visit, extended or not, so I’m trying. Tears beget more tears and then I can neither stop nor decipher exactly which facet of the last 7 days I am even crying about. Most likely it’s the dog hair and dust bunnies that the new bossy people around here won’t let me clean up. If they would just do it to my standards then I probably would have nothing at all to fret about. Maybe they purposely leave those crazy-making things there for me so I can perseverate on something other than what stage of cancer I most likely have.

Everyone in this house is their own version of scared right now. None of us are really talking about being scared, but actions speak louder than words and I have intuited much from our family interactions.

I can count on one hand the number of times my baby girl has laid her head on my lap in the 17 years I have known her. In the past 7 days, however, there is some gravitational force that consistently pulls her as close to me as she can physically, possibly get. And although neither of us is able to find the words that loom deep inside each of us, we know what we are saying to each other as her head rests on some part of my body and I caress her multi-colored teenage hair while inhaling the beauty of every fucking second. It is there and it is not. More importantly, we are here.

And then there’s my first born. The lord-knows-where-you-even-came-from kid who has always always exuded confidence expressing his words, thoughts, and feelings with a kind of grace that is typically only earned by octogenarians. Lately, the cat has got his tongue a bit, so I know he is processing through all the unknowns in his own way. The telltale signs from my baby bear are him not asking me to whip up some culinary delight he loves; not asking me to help find his keys and wallet (again); checking in with me multiple times just to say hi and see how I’m feeling. He has always greeted me with a morning hug, but they linger a tad longer and tighter now. We hold hands in silence together and we kinesthetically emote all we cannot presently say.

The glue stick. My husband, my rock, safe place…talk about giving new meaning to quaint little descriptors that sound like platitudes prior to undergoing an actual litmus test. What the hell do I even say about him and the fear he is feeling? We fall asleep holding hands. We wake multiple times each night in search of the interlocked fingers that keep us both safe. We re-intertwine and somehow doze off again until one of us wakes and cannot feel the other. And we panic until we are again holding on to the most beautiful thing we know.

He remains this pillar of fucking amazingness and I don’t think he has taken a breath for himself since this whole party started. I worry he is going to self combust. I know there are moments here and there that I have actually somehow fallen asleep, but I’m not sure I can say the same for him. His heartbreak is palpable to me and it makes me weak in the knees. It hurts me more to see him hurting than it does to feel the pain myself. His loyalty runs so deep that he can’t see that he even exists as a human being inside this hurricane that is our present state of collective minds.

I have no way to end this with some sort of witty closure. Presently, I have nothing left inside of me. I know it’s gonna be ok. I’m just fucking tired…and when has that ever proven to be anyone’s best representation of themselves?

Tomorrow is a new day. Thanks for listening.

day 3.5

So, I initially entitled this post “day 9.5”. Then I counted back, and reality was, umm, 3. Not even 3.5…just 3. Period.

I had to erase and correct, which means I had to also take ownership of some shit that’s been playing pinball inside my head.. like getting ahead of myself by 2/3rds or whatever it calculates out to (I suck at math and I make no excuses, I simply just hate it)…essentially thinking that 9 days had somehow happened in 3 days. 9 is my favorite number, so maybe it all just ties into that, but it is probably not worth discussing at this juncture.

I have no idea whether that is me trying to hold on to time, or rejecting time altogether…I likely won’t have closure on that for months. Most importantly, my rock is here with me in all this uncertainty of which is what; likely feeling the same distortion of time; stoically acting as though this is nothing he needs to lose his shit about…it’s totally fucking normal to learn your wife pretty much mostly has maybe possibly cancer.

I honestly don’t know who it sucks most for. I just know I feel like I am inflicting pain upon those I love because they are scared I might not be there for them to love any longer…but I will…we all just need some concrete information to work with. And it doesn’t matter who cries at which point. It’s gonna likely be ugly and messy for a while. And probably awkward. But that’s life, and these are the things that grow us.

It’s been so beautiful and loving…this weirdness of life…every fucking minute of it. Nobody cares any longer about dirty underpants or inefficiently cleaned up dog poo…we are just fucking happy to be here. and we’re not afraid to say it, or text it, or just hug the fuck out of it.

I stare at my husband now because he has finally passed out from the sheer exhaustion of worry. And I feel so grateful that I can bring him a cool washcloth or a glass of water because I don’t know when or whether that option will no longer be mine, and things I have no jurisdiction over will dictate the who, what, when, where, and why of every day existence.

Today’s silver lining is that we bought a new couch and recliner that will be delivered on Monday. Whether I am cancer + or -, we will have a livingroom that welcomes congregation, and if nobody has cancer then each placement of preference is totally up for grabs. At least that’s what I say now. And I have the right to change my mind at any time.

It can be hard to say the weird shit. We all feel the pain. Why does it have to be so weird anyways? It is what it is, right? You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

I’m struggling in ways I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling struggle about. I’m trying to allow myself just a tad more space and breadth of acceptance that who I am is plenty fucking fine…and I’m equally completely amiss as to grasping any sort of grace that might help me navigate whatever this journey is going to prove itself to be.

I’m fucking scared. And I don’t really know how to be that version of myself to anyone in my life. I am and have been the warrior; there has never been any other option that I could see through my night vision goggles…fight until you’re exhausted, then pull your fucking bootstraps up and keep fighting…you don’t have the luxury of complacency.

But because of my husband and the essence of who he is, I’m trying to feel confidence in trust. I’m learning how to trust in trust. I am breathing because I trust. I understand that I can be scared and trust at the same time, and that we can be scared and trust together.

My words today come from the headspace I am currently stuck in, but they don’t define anything. They just are. They let me talk the only way I know how. They give me some level of humanity to myself. Or maybe some fucking sanity to just get it out of my head for a few hours whilst I call upon some welcome sleep.

We’re all fallible; we’re all beautiful. We all struggle with saying what our heart wants to say because our head gets in the way. What I have learned thus far on my who-the-fuck-knows-if-I-have-cancer-or-not journey is that we’re all scared. It doesn’t matter which bad-news-recipient you are – it all fucking sucks, and each and every one of us has our own way to work through it.

I glance at this man next to me, again, and I know I am wrapped in the biggest and best love that exists.

a new day

So it seems I have cancer. Suspiciousness enough weirdness on the annual mammogram to warrant every diagnostic tool and test possible. Rapidly scheduled follow up diagnostics and technicians who leave the room mid-imaging for periods of time that seem like eternity.

No small talk. No chit chat. Just the facts, ma’am, and quite frankly the facts don’t look good. But we can’t tell you that yet so we’re just gonna pretend like humans are not supposed to interact. What model was it along the way that decided healthcare sans humanity would provide benefit to anyone; patient or provider?

At the core of whatever it is we do to bring home a paycheck is the human quotient. The reason we survive is because we continually take turns picking each other up. I understand there are boundaries but I don’t understand how you stop seeing the human.

But I digress. Because what this started as was a knee high plod through a pre- cancer diagnosis. It’s just that the days that drag out into the final knowing can make you fucking crazy, so you spin and sway a bit and maybe find yourself questioning whether you are who you have believed yourself to be. And I think I have finally landed on a peace with it all. Regardless the news I get next week, I’ve already been given a plethora of gifts. I’m already grateful.

I know what it is even though I haven’t officially been told what it is. It doesn’t really take much to read into the nuances of interactions with medical staff when they don’t know how to say what they’re not sure they can tell you.

And then there’s google to make you completely batshit crazy in the days that loom between the onslaught of tests and the words that will finally offer you peace; whichever piece they present you.

In summary of tonight’s rambling thoughts…

I may or may not have cancer.

It seems to be pointing nearer to yes than no.

Either way I win. I have already grown exponentially as a human.


At the beach freezing my ass off but husband needs the ocean. So do I, it turns out, but he is better at making it a priority than I am. Regardless, I am still freezing. And I also love being here. Use towel as blanket and take it all in.

He pulls up “Old Country” on Spotify and we realize how old we are. “Old” in Spotify search results pulls music from the last twenty years, and the “old” he is looking for goes back another twenty or so. I tell him to amend the search to “1970’s Country” to see whether that brings us the old we are in search of; the old that we are. Perhaps I should have suggested “Country Music for Senior Citizens”, but that seems as daunting as the AARP magazine that now gets sent to me monthly without me ever initiating the request for such material.

The husband loves Country music, and I love that about him. I find it sweet and innocent for some reason. I drift away somewhere and recall a story he told me long ago about a Reba McEntire concert he and his brother went to in their early twenties and I smile to myself…seems there were girls trying to hit on him but all he could see was Reba. Thank goodness, I think to myself, that you only cared about Reba…that left some space for you to eventually find me.

I get the same feeling every time he does something cute like that (and he would hate me calling him cute, but I don’t think he actually reads my posts so I’m sticking with cute), or I remember something cute he has done. I always want to marry him right then and there, all over again; and then I remember I am already married to him and I don’t have to marry him again. But I would, and I did; twice, in fact. And I still want to marry him again.

I don’t even know what this post is about. I am rambling and emoting and pondering life…maybe that’s what old people just do. Old people in search of older people to make them remember what youth felt like. Glory Days. Or something like that.

Or maybe it’s just what I do, regardless of the age I find myself. My mind starts drifting and being weird, and I try to jump on the wave. I go with it and see what happens; I succumb to the weirdness that is my head and all the places it wanders. It’s not always pretty but it’s always real and always me. And I think I have figured out how to love that girl; that part of me who feels so foreign and so normal all at the same time. The girl who is willing to admit that she is a wildflower that even she can’t define.

I’m happy as fuck despite the hurdles that are life, and I’m happy that I am jumping them with my Reba loving softie who tries to be a badass; “old” Country or Senior Citizen Country style. Even when I want to gouge his eyeballs out, I know that he is my safest and most honest place to be. You see, he has a front row seat to the shit show that is me and for some reason he keeps buying the ticket. A ticket that doesn’t always or often or ever offer a huge, or any, ROI.

So maybe, then, this post is about love. Or old people. Or the combination that the two offer in tandem.

And it’s Sunday. I love Sundays for the special piece of life that they offer. Dear Sunday: you are neither party day nor work day, you just are, and I feel like you deserve more respect than I have previously offered you for your place and purpose in my life. I used to want to gouge your eyes out too – every fucking week you came around, which is always – but I have finally learned the beauty of you.

Maybe getting old isn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe we need the years to become enlightened about life. Maybe the years grow us into who we were supposed to be all along. I don’t really care either way…I’m just grateful to be in this here and now, and I’m grateful that I feel such gratitude for every morsel along the way that has grown me.

I don’t have any idea what I don’t yet know – I only know that the older I become the less certain I am that I know anything about anything.

Except, I think I am starting to understand this love thing. And I love the love I feel.

letter to a friend

I heard the struggle in your voice today and I can’t stop feeling your pain and wishing I could carry it for you. I heard you doubt everything about yourself and I wanted nothing more than to wrap you in my arms and hold you close; whispering sweet nothings that are everything amazing about you, into your ears of self judgment.

It’s hard to wake up every day and feel like life is not behaving exactly as you would like it to; that you are not being who you know yourself to be. And it’s really super easy and convenient to get mad about that. It actually propels you for a bit, but not always in the right direction. At some point (sometimes sooner, sometimes later, in my experience) the anger runs out simply because of pure exhaustion, and then that pesky fear biatch sets in and it takes everything to a whole new level of “I CAN’T DO THIS.” Crazy thing is, though, you can, and you do every single day…it’s just hard to see ourselves clearly sometimes. Especially when we are hell bent on believing we suck.

I wish you could see all the beautiful things in yourself that I see in you. I’m also not gonna force feed you, because I have been in your place multiple times and I needed to dig my own self out each time, on my schedule and by my rules. But I do need you to know that I see you, and I know you’re gonna see yourself again soon. You’re gonna have kinder thoughts about yourself; you’re gonna have the strength to keep fighting the good fight; you’re gonna like what you see in the mirror. Wash, rinse, repeat. This never ends, so don’t give more value to the highs than lows; the bests than worsts; the beauty than the ugly. It’s all necessary to complete us. It’s all valid. It is all to be embraced.

Take it a little easier on yourself. Smile at the amazing human you are. There is nobody else in the world who sees even a fraction of the ugliness in you that you see in yourself. You are beauty and you are love.

brave new world

What a strange experience this covid thing has been. Strangely foreign; strangely beautiful. A paradox of existence. I began the pandemic wanting to strangle everyone I was sheltered-in-place with. I had mini- verging on mega-meltdowns trying to navigate the new landscape that lacked the daily peace and quiet I was used to, and likely some degree of depression.

It’s hard to remember the days not so long ago when I felt so hopeless amid it all. But it was real and it was nearly all I could feel. And then, as the months passed by and everything that used to be normal morphed into a new and almost unrecognizable normal, I slowly began to morph into accepting the package as it was. Eventually I even started liking it, and now I am grateful for the exact things I hated when our world blew up. I expect to see my husband and kids in this space that used to be solely mine all day, and I miss them during the occasional times that one of them escapes the compound and ventures into the world at large.

There is no rushing to anything we do in life these days. There is lots of quality time and conversation in ways that our previous life did not allow for. We have grown through the loss of two family members and we have learned, or remembered, or a combination of both, that life is precious and finite. We have realized how easy it is to stand up and be present for others. Life has a richness to it now that is palpable and keeps me wanting more. I’ve learned that I can do hard things, and I like myself better when I face my fears and allow myself to be vulnerable. My capacity to love seems to grow with each conscious decision to choose love over anything else. That sounds rudimentary to me as I write it. But truth be told, I had to crawl my way back from scarcity to abundance. And I couldn’t see how scarcely I was operating until life forced me out of my perceived safety bubble and into a brave new existence. My heart beats stronger with each breath I take and I like this version of myself much better than some previous versions.

Someday this year, maybe, our world will begin to return to some sort of the former normal we knew and with that will once again come changes we’ll have to adjust to. I am guessing that we’ll all need some time to figure that out, and things will feel all out of place again, and we’ll likely keep some of these pandemic morsels of life in our daily rotation. I think we have become a kinder, gentler human race that cannot return to not giving a shit about each other. The death and destruction we have collectively lived through has made us a more compassionate conglomerate of hearts and souls. We have learned to slow the fuck down, be present with one another, and hold hands without physically touching.

Although 2021 is only a few weeks in, it already feels light years away from 2020. Hope is in the air. Love is all around us. Kindness prevails. Sometimes we forget to live and be love, but it’s there inside of all of us, just waiting to be unleashed. We can do hard things.

embracing vulnerability

My son got his license the other day and that next step of independence has hit me. Hard. It got me all thinking about life on a deeper level and being all sentimental and goopy and it just so happens that fate has gifted me an empty house, for the first time since March, so I’m gonna write it out whilst simultaneously relishing the solitude.

There are things I want to impart to my kids before they are out of my nest. I guess that’s what most of us strive for as parents. I thought I had all the time in the world until one day I didn’t; and I don’t. Any maybe that’s the point, too. Our children are not us. They are not ours. They are as individual and unique as the exact moment that created them. I’ve always believed this to be true, but the older and more individual my kids become the more time I spend pondering nature vs. nurture on that mini scale which applies only to my own experiences.

With that said, I am also pondering life on a scale so much larger than my bubble. My bubble led me to this place of rumination but the beautiful messiness of life has overtaken my thoughts.

Why is it that, as humans, we are so fucking afraid to be vulnerable? What is it that makes us work like hell to prove to everyone we love and care about that we don’t need them until we are offered a limited space in which to finally be real? Once we are able to lay our swords to rest and love in the truest form we become what we should have been all along: Real. Just simply fucking real. Life is messy; life is mired; life is beautiful. Life requires some serious acquiescing to what is, in any given moment. Over and over again. I wish I would have figured out how to acquiesce long ago; and I am equally as grateful that I am starting to figure it out now. I’ve pondered why I couldn’t; and what I think I have come around to is that we are all broken and scared – and we don’t know how to trust that our hearts will not be broken over and over again. I think that once you start trusting that the people you have chosen to love also choose to love you, there is no other place you will land than that of higher and truer love.

Aside from COVID life, which I cannot even begin to address here, life has offered me the opportunity to dig deep twice this year – like dirt under all my fingernails deep. And I am grateful. I feel like I am starting to really understand and embrace the human existence on plains that I’ve shied away from probably since the first time I felt my heart broken. If I could tell my twelve-year-old self, and really every age since a little something about life, I would tell her to embrace the hurdles; you cannot grow unless you do. I would tell her to wear that goopy heart of hers on her sleeve with pride – love begets love. Vulnerability is what makes us so fucking human and beautiful. Pride will destroy us each and every time.

Life events in their realest and truest form are working to make me a better version of myself. They are helping me figure out how to open that heart of mine that was scarred and afraid. They are offering me the most painful, in your face, fingernails-on-chalkboard experiences. And in that, I know I am growing.

be still and listen

I’ve been spending my recent quarantine time listening to others speak to me through podcasts, interviews, lectures, classes and TED Talks. I had forgotten how much my mind loves to be fed and watered and grown. I had lost sight of how much nourishment is out there to feed my soul if I simply be still and listen.

When life is so busy with normalcy it’s hard to quiet the rush and await the offerings that come when we silence our own minds. It took me upwards of 60 days to climb my way out of pandemic-induced desperation and depressed ambivalence toward life, but the myriad offerings patiently waiting to enlighten me have reminded me, once again, that every single inch and gram and ounce of life is a choice. I have finally figured out – correction – am in the process of figuring out (again) – how to feel peace and open my mind to the beauty in all things. I feel a sense of renewal and gratitude for this time our current world has given me to think about and cultivate joy.

It’s crazy how much change we have been through since the beginning of March, and how our experiences parallel those of each other even though our individual circumstances are widely varied. I guess it boils down to how very similar we all are as human beings on this planet despite how different we appear to be on the outside. We are pain and fear and suffering, and we are hope and kindness and love. We are our worst and best selves all in one day, and we march on as individuals, families, and communities.

We are there to pick each other up; to fight for the human race in all its inequities. We are beautiful even when we are ugly. Together, we survive and thrive.

pandemic reflections

Day who-knows-what of quarantine and I am finally starting to love and semi-understand the me I have struggled to embrace throughout this pandemic. I spent the first fifty-or-so days feeling completely lost. Immobilized. I couldn’t do anything except sit and shame myself for doing nothing. And then I felt like shit about that. And then I did more of nothing while contemplating the same feelings of shame over and over again. For a long while there, it felt like the cycle of madness and sadness and inertia would never end. And then I got depressed about those feelings and thoughts.

I was neither patient nor kind with myself as I struggled and fell and scraped my knees and failed, failed, failed to be my best self. Or even a mildly recognizable version of myself. I judged and berated and hated and threw up on myself for every negative thought, emotion, and reaction that came through me. And you know what that bred? More of the same gross feelings about myself. That damn cycle of doom and gloom just kept perpetuating itself; shoulders heavier, moods darker, outbursts over more of nothing in the big picture of life. I felt lost in an infinity pool of hopelessness. I judged myself against every achiever who seemed to be excelling while I continued to derail. Every post I saw of someone mastering a new skill in one way or another just made me feel more inept. You bake bread, I clip a hangnail. You remodel your bathroom, I pluck a whisker. You feed the homeless, I finally cook a meal for my family. My successes had pretty much boiled down to showering more than once a week, remembering to wash my face in the morning, and not shitting the bed.

A writer struggling to write. An artist struggling to create. A lover struggling to love. An optimist hidden beneath a shroud of negativity. I honestly could not find an ounce of comfort within my own skin, soul, body, mind, or home. The house too full for my quiet mind to find solace in itself; the fridge too close to turn away food that I numbingly shoved in my mouth; the day-drinking hour steadily encroaching upon hours that some may perceive more as morning than afternoon.

The feeling of immobilization has been the weirdest thing for me. I have never in my life spent so much time sitting on my couch wondering what to do next. And then wondering why I am wondering about it instead of just figuring out what to do with all the time in the world available to me. And then doing a bit more of nothing while thinking about the fact that there is so much I could do. And, alas, still sitting on my fat ass doing nothing and being pissed off about it. Does that not fall within the definition of insanity?

At the point I was really starting to wonder whether this cauldron of self-worthlessness was my new normal (a week or so ago, give or take), something started to change in my mindset. I’m not talking big changes here – I am talking the simplest act of being able to smile a genuine smile at life rather than wanting to flip it off. I started to see little glimmers of hope here and there in my crowded, cluttered, messy life. Baby steps leading the way to acceptance of this new and strange reality; baby steps guiding me to compassion for all that is; a somewhat recognizable path back to myself. I think, maybe, the change came about because I decided to get curious about my feelings and question why I was allowing myself to have them if they did not serve me or my family well. I had somehow allowed myself to get so caught up in what wasn’t that I couldn’t see what was, and my gains during this time of shelter-in-place have been and are exponentially larger than my perceived losses. For someone who thinks she generally adapts to change well, this experience of absolutely everything about your life changing at once has humbled me into taking a closer look at myself and examining the true pillars upon which I stand. With the disintegration of everything that once was I could not find my center. Once again, I have been offered the opportunity to test the core of who I believe myself to be and re-erect myself into warrior mode.

Truth is, the stillness bestowed upon us by this pandemic has allowed me more conversation and closeness with my teenage kids in the past sixty days than time and schedules (and likely their desire) have afforded us for years. Truth is, the crashing economy stymied my normally traveling husband to a new job with a home base and for the first time in eight years we get to share space together every day rather than only on weekends. Truth is, phone calls I never used to answer because I “didn’t have time” are now the phone calls that I initiate. And I can finally see all of these things for the beauty they are even though the world we now live in still feels foreign. And I am grateful.

I finally managed to plant a little garden of beauty with my own two hands, metaphorically and in reality. Both bring me joy. And both calm my soul.

But I might die if I have to unload the dishwasher one more time.


Pain and stoicism; loneliness and longing. This is how I describe you. Within these walls of “comfort” you built was ever there an eye to see and know you, a heart to understand all you felt and feared? The deepest parts of you threaten to burrow into the healed crevices of me and I ache for your emptiness.

Wrapping into self so tightly is a false cocoon of safety. The walls you mathematically built around your fears don’t protect what you think they do. I know; I lived in your space once and thought I was safe inside my concrete fortress, but it was a shell of an existence.

What happened, so long ago, that was fierce enough to shut out your light; make you feel as though you had to bite and tear and lash out at every part of a graceful life? Was there once a brightness and lightness in you that made you feel happy? Did you ever smile a genuine smile or laugh for the sheer joy of laughing? How did I become me despite being raised by you?

I’ve wanted to ask you these questions for the longest time. Recently, my curiosity piqued because I thought I had finally figured out some of the pieces of the puzzle that comprised you. And then, before I had mustered up the courage to try and learn you; to try and know you somehow; you had less than a month left to live, and I found myself flying across the country to care for you in your final weeks and days.

We had not spoken in nearly two years; still, you were more concerned with proving yourself to me than allowing yourself to be vulnerable or accept love of the purest kind. It was never easy or natural or normal – the relationship between you and me. It just kind of wasn’t… at all. How, then, do you say goodbye? How do you survive days and weeks of caring for someone you don’t particularly like while maintaining your sanity?

I don’t know how to feel about my feelings. Mostly I don’t feel at all when it comes to you. And then I feel bad about my indifference. That foundation of openness and trust; of mother/daughter specialness, was something you never wanted until I was an adult. But you cannot build upon something you have not yet erected. And I had no foundation with you; no desire for you; nothing upon which to build and grow and learn and love. So you and I remained stagnant in our false relationship while I raised children of my own and learned what it meant to be a mom.

The first twenty-four hours are sort of not completely awful and somewhat tolerable. You are determined to love this human being, flaws and all, as best you can through her remaining days. You kind of thought she was on the same page, but she can’t love you back; she simply does not know how. So you set your brain to survival mode; to the most primal of human needs. You work with the calendar that is uncertain with stage four cancer and live what is; you pack up your shit and fly across the country and live out of plastic bags for weeks because you care as a human, even though you do not know her at all as a daughter. Maybe you silently hope for something more from her; an epiphany to come with the knowledge that these are her final days on earth. You grasp at any glimmer of a real human beneath the facade.

The glimmer never materializes despite your best efforts to elicit. Instead, you get 24/7 servings of everything you hated about your life with her; the existence you ran from the moment you were able to make it on your own. You become convinced that you cannot make it through this. You have self-diagnosed panic attacks, difficulty breathing, and cannot sleep because nothing about your current life resembles normal, and you don’t even know in which bed or house you will seek respite on any given eve.

She is dying and paranoid and taking it out on you. You’re told by the professionals that these are the behaviors commensurate with someone knowing they are dying; unfortunately, though, they are also her core personality traits and you have a hard time discerning which is what. You hate them all regardless of their affiliation because they all just fucking hurt. You figure out how to function solely on autopilot so you don’t completely lose your shit amid the shit storm that is your present existence, and you realize you are losing a piece of your soul with each dagger she slings. But you smile and press on, somehow, garnering the strength of the real-life angels in your presence.

You end up needing to completely detach self from yourself because you no longer exist. You become dubbed a member of the micro-managing care team who has “great ideas” but they are not valid ideas, because “there are too many cooks in the kitchen” and she is the head chef. You sit for hours while she counts out each of her medicines for a twenty-four-hour period and laboriously places each one in a capsule that becomes increasingly harder for her to maneuver. You have learned by day four, though, to shut your mouth unless you want the process to continue for an additional hour because she felt she lost control and needed to reassert it. You become a shell of a human being, just like her.

You cry, occasionally, but the tears are displaced, and you don’t know whether they are for her, or you, or the relationship that never was.

And finally, it ends, after you have endured more hurt than you thought you were capable of enduring. You have no idea who you, as an individual, are any longer. And then you realize that you’ll never have to feel her projected disdain again.

And you breathe a sigh of relief.

It is finally fucking over.

And you are still standing. You are still standing. You are going to be ok.