Sunday, April 29, 2012

Photo Albums

This afternoon I got to look through some old photo albums with my mom.

I didn’t mean for the albums I picked to be the albums focused on me – I was really looking for pictures of my sister. But I just grabbed the first albums in the box, and mom wanted to look through them anyway. So we sat next to each other, flipping though adorable baby and toddler photos of me.

Adorable pictures like this one :)

Now, I know my mom loves me. But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to see my mom diligently going through the albums – taking time on each picture, cherishing the beautiful moments that were captured on film, pointing out her favorite pictures, talking about how I’m cute in every photo because I’m just so beautiful. What would have just been an ordinary afternoon with my mom turned into something sacred. And thinking back over this afternoon I realize that I’m so lucky to have a mom who loves me so much, and who has gotten to see me grow up from the little girl that I was to the woman I am now. I’m so lucky that I got to sit with her and feel her pleasure and love as she flipped through those album pages. I’m so lucky I happened to pick up the Katye-centered albums, and got to spend an hour looking through them with my mom.

We might not have time for everything we want to do together. And there are some key mother-daughter moments we will never share. But this afternoon of looking through my photos together was one of the most precious moments we’ve had.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding Joy

Everyone tells me we’re supposed to find joy. Joy in the midst of suffering, joy in every circumstance, or something like that.

But joy, well, joy feels like sunshine and rainbows and puppies. It feels contrived, cheesy and impossible for me right now. It’s probably because of how the word joy has been misused over the years – I’m pretty sure that back in the day, joy was more pure and true than the fleeting and shallow happiness it’s associated with in my head nowadays. But since my understanding of joy is tempered by my context, joy just isn’t gonna happen anytime soon.

So instead I find life. I find the small things that give me life – the short moments that lighten my day, that give my soul rest, that bring peace.

Today life was walking to this little park next to a busy street when I had a break between work and therapy; life was going to that park, sitting in the sun, leaning on a tree, and reading my Madeleine L’Engle book, The Irrational Season, for about 15 minutes. Life was seeing some bright orange poppies on the side of the road. Life was listening to one of my favorite Ben Folds Five live recordings, “The Complete Sessions at West 54th.”

Yesterday life was making hamburgers and staying up late laughing with the interns. Life was getting last, sweet moments with Alex before she heads back to LA for awhile.

Sunday, life was watching the river out in the woods where we had our prayer retreat. Life was praying for the interns, coming back and watching LOTR 3, and eating gifted cupcakes.

Saturday, Friday, Thursday… some days have more life in them then others. But every day, I try to find a little bit of life, a little bit of light to push back against the fog, the darkness that presses in on me. On the days I can’t find life myself, I look to my friends to help bring me life. To sit with me, to make me laugh, to lighten the load just a little.

Maybe someday these life moments will be renamed in my head. Maybe someday I’ll be able to admit that these moments of life are actually little pockets of joy, without feeling like a fraud. But for now the word joy still gets stuck on my tongue. And for now I am content with finding life instead.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Slipping Away

My mom’s speech is slipping away.

She’s having a harder time speaking – more grasping for words, more frustration when she can’t say what she wants to say, more times when she just can’t finish her sentences because the words just won’t come.

It’s a subtle difference, I guess, unless you’re around her a lot. But I know my dad and I can tell. I know she can tell. She just can’t speak as well as she did before.

The common phrases, the niceties – those have stayed. But she can’t find the words to talk about what the doctor said, or who visited, or who sent her the flowers for her birthday. At least she can still say “I love you.”

We don’t know for sure why her speech is slipping. It might be the chemo (she’s officially getting sick from the chemo. The first month she was really, really tired, this month she had stomach flu-like symptoms). It might be just general tiredness. Or it might be the microtumors that we can’t see on the MRI eating away at the part of her brain that controls her speech.

Whatever the reason, I’m not ready for it. I’ve been really liking this plateau that we’ve been at – this stable place with few surprises. It’s been easier to live life, business as usual (or at least, business as usual since my new usual started in August), without fearing the next traumatic event. It’s been so easy I’d almost forgotten that it’s going to end, that she’s going to eventually going to go downhill, that she’ll slowly go backwards in her progress as the tumors take over.

I don’t know if her speech will improve. I hope it does. But if it doesn’t, I need to start readying myself, whatever that looks like, for what’s coming next. I just wish I knew how to do that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

Happy 57th Birthday, Mom.

I'm glad I got to spend time with you today, on your birthday. To make you cherry pie (your favorite dessert). To read you my blog entry of why I want to be like you. To share dinner with you, to watch you open your presents, to see how much you loved the collage my sister made you.

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you very, very much.