2021-06-06 All the Life that Wants to Live

My neighbor Dick has touched over a thousand people’s hearts. Literally. In his prime he was a cardiothoracic surgeon who performed thousands of procedures. I can’t imagine having the kind of skill, knowledge, and expertise required for such things. It’s got to be a bit surreal to think back over your life and know that you have saved hundreds of peoples lives, extended ten times that, and had a positive impact on thousands of family members falling over each other with unyielding gratitude. Not to mention the weight that must come with delivering the worst news to the spouse, daughter, or parent of a patient. Watching as they clutch whatever is in their arms and hands a little tighter, pain and anguish climbing inside of them bursting from their eyes. 

Dick is retired now and though his career is long behind him, he still comes out every day to check the mailbox at the end of his driveway and on Tuesday’s to wheel his trash cart to our shared curb. His hearing and eyesight are not so good so when he sees me, he always walks closer to the small green space that separates our driveways. 

His greeting is familiar now, “Shyla, is that you? I can’t see so good anymore.” He hobbles with his cane a little closer. His smile is soft and genuine. 

“Yes.” I reply, walking a little quicker toward him so he doesn’t have to come too far and also so I don’t have to raise my voice in an unnatural way like I’m talking to an elderly person who is hard of hearing. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know,” he says with a smile. And I’m not sure I know but think I might. 

Recently I was working to tease the weeds out of the lilac bushes that live in our shared strip of green space. I was on his property on my hands and knees pulling out little saplings and Creeping Jenny that have planted themselves there. You have to really get them up from the root otherwise they will stubbornly grow back.

All the life that wants to live.

It wasn’t Tuesday. The mail hadn’t been delivered yet. Yet here was Dick outside and making his way across his driveway.

He smiles and says hi and asks me what I’m doing. I stand so we can be eye to eye and I tell him I’m pulling weeds. We survey the bushes in silence for a second. They have been neglected for far too long and are in rough shape but still working all their lilac magic to produce those wonderfully smelling blooms. 

I once heard something about plants that were nearing a rough patch or the end of their time. That they somehow put all their energy into producing whatever it is that will beget offspring. Like a pine tree producing twice the normal number of pine cones as its branches become brittle and brown. Or a flower blooming out of control before a bad winter it might not survive, somehow with a premonition of things to come. 

Dick breaks the silence and says the bushes look great. I don’t think we’re looking at the same bushes. They smell amazing though, and maybe with failing eyesight that’s what he’s basing his assessment on. 

I ask him how it’s going. He surprises me and says, “You know a person shouldn’t live past 90.” 

He’s 92. 

I’m not sure how to respond to that so I just smile and we stand there for another moment of silence. 

He reaches over his cane and grabs the tendril of a Creeping Jenny and yanks it away from the bush. It snaps, leaving the root of the weed intact. 

“I think I’ve got my work cut out for me,” I say. 

“You’re doing good.” He says. And then “I’ll leave you to it.” 

As he turns to walk back to his open garage door I can’t help but think that no matter how much good I do in my life, it will never amount to much.

All the life that wants to live.

I get back down on my knees and reach for another weed.

2021-06-05 Cliches About Time are Cliche Because of Their Truth

The push and pull of all these days blurs into a gravity that begs to be let go of. Time is relative. Emotions are relative. Thoughts are relative. The next thing can only be measured against the last and the moment in time that lingers longer than it should, repeating itself in the mind, becomes greater as time passes. It’s natural.

Funny how the more you want to let it go, the harder it holds on and the harder you want to hold onto it, the faster it slips away. Why? I often think that I’m not ready to work on answers to the questions yet, because I’m still working on the questions. Maybe in my last minutes wandering this waking world I’ll come to understand the questions. Maybe then, and only then, I will feel ready for the answers. 

Since the funeral on Thursday, I’ve been replaying the same moment in my head over and over again. Each time I think maybe I can get through it without that emotional swell that brings me to tears. 

My mom and I arrived 20 minutes early for the funeral and there was no one in the receiving line before entering the main part of the chapel. Even before I saw the line, I could feel my emotions rising through my body, in my stomach, and up into my throat. By the time I was standing in front of my ex, i was already full and bursting from the eyes. I attempted to maintain my composure as I gave him a light hug and offered my condolences. 

Next was his mom, who I had been most worried about and felt very sad for. She hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear, she loves me, she’s glad I came, thanks for sending flowers, and that I’ve done a good job raising the kids. 

See, I can’t think of it now without tearing up again. 

I was worried and anxious and had nothing to worry about. I wish I had been more prepared. So many unsaid things are in my head and it’s too late for me to say them. So now they are stuck inside of me. And now I realize it’s too late, their “stuck-ness” hurts. 

I proceeded down the receiving line. Kristy, Wendy, Scott, and Larry. Family that used to be my family. Family that would be my family had I stayed married. Family that I was separated from suddenly and unnaturally. It was the toughest part of my divorce and standing there I was reduced to my younger self, broken and exposed and not knowing what to say. 

I hugged each person in turn, followed by my mom making easy casual conversation with folks the way she does. Why couldn’t I have inherited her easy social nature? 

We proceeded into the church and selected a spot near the back of the room. The service was nice. The personal portion was touching and the religious portion allowed me to splay my thoughts in different directions. 

My children were there, sitting with their cousins and though I said hello to them, it felt like I was approaching strangers, not really a part of that circle. They are all so grown up. The oldest cousin having children of his own now. That’s life. 

We didn’t stay for the reception after. My mom was in a hurry to get going. I almost regretted bringing her as I may have stayed longer if it wasn’t for her. It was probably for the best. I don’t really belong anyway and it would have been awkward. 

That was 2 days ago and that 120 second clip of navigating the interactions in that line will not stop replaying in my mind. Two mornings now I’ve woke up thinking about it. The words whispered, the embraces, the flood of emotions. It leaves me wondering what I will need to do to release myself from repeating that memory. That’s the question. 

I’ve told three people, and each time I began to get weepy and still that did not help. I’m hoping writing this will help. I guess we’ll see. Time will tell. 

Time heals and time wounds. Time is forgiving and cruel. Time keeps its secrets until it’s too late, revealing the questions when the answers no longer matter. 

My former father-in-law is gone and I can no longer tell him how I feel about him and how much he means to me, my memories locked inside because I’m not able to sit around the table with the family and reminisce. 

I can’t reach back in time and change anything. I can’t rewind and ask my grandfather about his life. I can’t stay in touch with Stacey and convince her life is worth sticking around for or change the way I treated KS. Life goes on and as cliche as it is, it waits for no one. 

That’s a good a place as any to stop. There’s more I could say about family and attempting to spend more quality time lately, but it’s Saturday and going to be hot out and I need to water my plants. 

Another cliche but so true—there’s no time like the present.

With peace and love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-05-27 The Elephant in my Heart

After a time.. feel as though my hiding from the world at large is exhausting.

Maybe I’m just exhausted from lack of sleep. No matter how productive I am, it’s not productive enough. 

Still..  was looking forward to today when I woke up. Despite the dishes piling up, clumps in the litter box piling up, and mail requiring attention piling up, I’m still looking forward. The biggest question now is if I’m writing that because I want it to be true or if it’s actually true. 

My friend T texted she won’t be at the exercise class today, the one I vowed a few weeks ago I was quitting but too chicken-shit to tell her so I ponied up 50 more bucks for 5 more classes. 10 bucks a class is outrageous. The only way I can get my monies worth is to get the unlimited package and then go to like a gazillion classes. 

I need to grow a spine and just tell her. She probably already thinks I’m a complete flake, backing out of class after class. Then yesterday I went and lifted too heavy on biceps and hurt my arm. I’m going to start lifting with my husband instead. We have all this damn equipment at home I never use .. I just need another person to feel motivated to exercise (outside this treadmill walking). 

Why is that? 

I just need to tell T I want to hang out with her outside of a class, just you know, coffee or the zoo with her kids, or just sitting at one of our houses. 

Right now I’m avoiding the elephant in the room of my heart—the passing of my former father in law, my kids’ grandpa. He was a father figure to me for 18 years of my life and a genuinely wonderful person. I had a better relationship with him and his wife than my own parents who never paid any attention to me. His parents cared and they showed it.

And on it went like that through the duration of my 18 year marriage until the day I ended things with my ex husband and became enemy #1 in the eyes of my mother in law. I had to sacrifice my relationships with most members of his family for that decision, including the one I had developed with Larry. Sad that it had to be like that.

Just because I haven’t talked to them in years doesn’t mean I don’t feel grief. I do. I am hurting. I’m feeling it for myself, my ex-husband, my children, for the whole family. Funny the way it is when someone dies and you just don’t know what to say. I just don’t know what to say.

The kids are pretty closed up at this point, their first (close) grandparent to pass and just internalizing their own pain. They don’t want to talk about it and we’re all holding our breath in a vacuum waiting for news about services. The longer we have to wait, the more likely it willl be this weekend, which is in conflict with my daughters first planned road trip with a friend. She’s had so many disappointments from plans being derailed in the last few years, it’s disheartening.

I’m a little closed too, kind of feeling I have no one to talk to about how I feel about him or his dying. We all knew it was imminent, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I think most people would think I have no right to be upset, because it’s been so long but people feel how they feel. That is part of what makes us human.

For me this creates a bit of a conundrum about whether or not I should go to the funeral. If I had my way I would but Jim thinks I should not. I feel like it’s the respectful thing to do but he thinks it would not be right. It’s one of those situations where I don’t trust my own judgement and seeking counsel from others. Ultimately the decision is mine but I just want someone else to tell me what to do. But the fact that I’m resisting Jim’s advice is telling.

It has been 10+ years since I had interaction with the family. But I want to be there for myself and my kids. But they have their dad. But their dad might want me there. But he might not. My head goes back and forth and the worst part of my indecision is thinking if I go for myself that it will be selfish or self-serving like my mom saying she wanted to go to my step-moms funeral last year “for her kids” (all grown and not needing her and frankly not wanting to be there themselves). 

Still, maybe I need some sort of resolution for myself and I shouldn’t be so concerned what other people think. But I do care and their feelings matter. I just don’t know. 

If we were still in the middle of COVID, that would be a big reason not to go. But we’ve all been vaccinated now. I just don’t know. 

I’m not really feeling motivated to continue walking (or thinking about this) right now. I have so much to do today. Too much.

Deep sighs,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-05-11 All of This Is True.. Or Is It? 😉

This morning I was listening to my “Gear Shifter” playlist—the one I curated with songs that are sure to pump me into a cardio machine mood. One of the songs that came up in the shuffle was Hoodie Allen’s “The Real Thing.” 

The end of the song is a clip I have to believe is an authentic message left in his voicemail. It’s some girl, presumably his girl friend telling him she knows he’s working hard on a new album but he needs to get his priorities straight and pay more attention to her. For real! 

When she left that message she probably had no idea that it would make its way into one of his songs that would eventually be distributed to thousands of adoring fans. What do I think when I hear her sharp tone and biting words? What a bitch. 

I was given advice once to always be careful what you say and write, always, lest some unsavory nugget make it out into the wide world. It’s a conundrum. We spend so much energy making our public profiles look exactly how we want people to perceive us. For better or worse, I suppose.

The flip side of this is the freedom of letting your freak flag fly and not giving two turtles what other people think. In my head it’s a balancing act. My hatred of social media helps tip the scales in favor of not posting anything, ever. However, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are obviously not the only places I’m putting myself out there.

My biggest public facing platforms are my blogs—in various levels and colors of “findability.” My newest website which is less of a blog and more of space for self promotion is the place I’m thinking (hoping) people find me if/when they are looking. I was told that all writers should have a website to promote themself and their work. That it makes publishing their work more appealing to potential publishers.

That blog isn’t really a replacement for my original shyspark blog which I still post on a few times a year. That blog is home to first drafts of poetry and is also the archive of poems and musings from all the way back to the beginning of my poetry writing (which incidentally was when I was about 12 years old). In any case, it still serves a purpose.

Here’s me finally getting to my point…

A few weeks ago I posted to that original shyspark.com blog, which is connected to my Twitter account and posts automagically to Twitter. I had written a first draft of a prose poem. It was more of a musing than a poem, but I’m gonna call it a hybrid piece.

In the poem I had embellished some details of the situation I was writing about, letting the imagination in my fingers do the talking. I had an argument with myself about whether or not to post it, worried what people might think. I ended up posting it. 

Fast forward a few hours and whatever part of me won the argument about posting it waffled and I edited the post, rewriting the details of the lines to smooth over any content that might cause someone to question my character. Doing that made me feel so much better about the poem. 

Fast forward to the next day when it was brought to my attention that my husbands ex-wife had read the post AND brought it up with her son AND had him look at the post. 

They didn’t find the original lines. As timing had it, by the time she was pulling him in to read what I had written, the post had already been changed. I chalked it up to a lesson learned. But what was the lesson?

This question is one I’ve been struggling with since then. Here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Given the timing, it’s clear my husband’s ex-wife (who I’m thoughtfully calling whore number 1) is somewhat stalking me. To have seen that post in the short time it was in its original state, she is either following my blog, following me on Twitter, or just looking at all my shit on a regular basis. Any way you slice it, it’s creepy. If you are reading this, Jill, get a life!
  2. I still, after all these years, struggle with the thought of people actually reading what I write, worried about their perceptions of me. I’m a good person, but obviously have flaws and problems and make questionable decisions at times, that are not so pure of heart. Can I let that go and should I?
  3. Does the poem have to be true or are embellishments ok? If I twist the truth to shine a light on the deeper meaning I’m trying to come to terms with, is that being dishonest? I think most seasoned and learned writers would say it’s ok. Still, I write so much that’s nonfic, it’s tough to spin anything else when writing poems.

In the end, I felt like I wanted to write about this incident because it upset me but suppressed the urge, in favor of trying to just let it go. Clearly I haven’t let it go because as I began to write about that voicemail clip in the Hoodie song, it’s exactly the incident my mind zeroed in on. I didn’t plan this.. it just happened. 

If I was more brazen, I would tell you what kind of person is semi-stalking me. I would tell you that I call her whore number 1 because in an email to my husband she called me whore number 3. She wrote it and sent it and she’s never even met me.

Yes, I am my husbands third wife, but if I’m whore number 3, that makes her whore number 1. Good gravy!! 

(Oops.. I guess I’m more brazen than I thought!) 

If I was bolder than that I would tell you all kinds of other horrible things this woman has said and done and written. But not today. I’ve already satisfied my need to vent about this situation and her and it would really serve no purpose. I guess that means I’m done. 

And it’s about time.. I’ve definitely gone way beyond my allotted time for walking today. 

Cheers to Getting Shit off Your Chest(Finally), 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-05-07 On This Day in History… 🤱

Seventeen years ago, at this very moment, I was gettin busy pushing a baby out my vagina. That’s pretty freaking amazing right? That I can grow a human being inside my body and then birth it into the world in a matter of hours. 

More amazing than that is the mystical act of parenting. That a tiny, helpless being would be completely dependent on me in order to survive and thrive. And eventually get to the state of life where he could refuse to have his hair cut, develop an affinity for grape gatorade, and be sensitive and secure enough at 17 to hug his mama in front of his schoolmates. Yup.. pretty incredible indeed. 

He’s always hated having his hair cut. It wasn’t until very recently that, as a parent, I let go of pushing my own agenda for his hair. I let go and it was a beautiful thing. He’s not quite at man-bun stage yet, but well on his way. We’re now actively encouraging him to grow his hair out and get through the current awkward phase where it’s long enough to be in his eyes but not long enough to tie back. 

At first he thought we were trying to use reverse psychology on him but now we’ve reached the understanding that we’re all super stoked about it. His sister included, which I think seems to help. 

And contrary to his sister who was in line at the dmv at midnight when she turned 16 waiting to get her drivers license, he’s a year past that now and still has no interest in driving. His dad thinks he’s lazy and I dunno… I think he just has it all figured out. 

It’s not a bad thing to be chauffeured around everywhere and not be responsible for running errands for your parents. I was like that at his age. I never wanted to drive either and the sacrifice of being dependent on other people never bothered me that much. 

That’s why when his dad called me last week, in a fit, because C was refusing to drive, I just shrugged it. It will happen (his learning and getting his license) and I’m not worried. I just listened and said that I’d support helping him learn by driving with him when school is out. 

Also.. His dad having his panties in a bunch over it is delightful to me. That’s wrong, I know, but I don’t care. 😜

I’m actively working to slow down time, engaging in practices to allow the world around me to move at a pace that’s more amiable to my own. I don’t mind if it takes him the whole summer to learn and have drivers Ed. I don’t mind one bit. 

I’m sad to not get to spend any time with my super C today. He’s off school and hasn’t even responded to my text yet. I’ll wait a little bit and call. I’ll get my QT with him this weekend or next week. It’s a good thing that he gets to spend time with his paternal peeps today anyhow. 

Today is Friday and if I recall correctly he was born on a Friday too. Lemme check…. (Hold please)….

Yes! It was indeed a Friday. Thanks Google! 

That’s what made the timing so perfect for bringing him home from the hospital, We were able to do that on Sunday which just happened to be Mother’s Day. The same as it this week. 

Jim is off today and we’re just hanging out—cardio together, running a few errands for his son’s birthday, and probably yard work later. His sons 17th birthday is today too. How wild is that. 

At the same time I was pushing a baby out my va-j-j, my future husband’s first wife was having her belly cut into to extract their son. No disrespect to any woman who has had to have a C-section, but I’m glad to have done it the natural way. Even if they had to pull that baby-suction device out of the closet of the labor and delivery room to pull him out. Crazy times! 

Anyhow… that’s probably it today. Not a lot else going on. 

Three Cheers for Successfuly Slowing the Passage of Time, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-03-27 Time to Rebalance… ⚖️

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah, the sudden and drastic health issues my mom has suffered from and will continue to suffer from for an unforeseeable number of months to come. Somehow I need to find balance. I can’t let it take over my life.

The last three weeks were a rolling set of circumstances which required more of my time than the average contract. It was a good reminder how difficult it is to manage work and home and kids and how, too often, the “self” gets neglected. 

I equate the time I’ve spent in the hospital and now at my moms beck and call at her house to a work contract because that’s exactly what it feels like. An obligation to “do” for someone else without a lot of reward or satisfaction. I do it cuz what choice do I have. Just like most jobs.

Last night I got my first mental break. I mean it’s not like I was required to be at the hospital all day but mentally my focus was on my mom and her situation constantly. So it’s sort of like it took over my life. When my sister showed up at the house yesterday, and I got in my car and drove away, I released my mind from thinking about it.

It was easy, actually. I drove home and promptly showered because I needed time for my hair to dry before my double date last night. I checked in with both my kids and made sure they were doing good (they have been wonderfully independent and understanding in all this thus far) and I then scrambled to finish getting ready before our early meet-up time of 5:00. 

What are we like 70? Who meets to go to dinner at 5? Haha! 

Going out was fun. Having drinks and appetizers and a meal at a restaurant seemed like a damn vacation after the isolation of the pandemic and the designated daughter status I’ve endured these last few weeks. 

The double date itself was a test. We were meeting this new girl for the first time and it felt like too much was riding on our opinion to enjoy that part of it. I also didn’t get to spend too many moments talking to her alone to really get a sense of her or the dynamic of this potential relationship. 

Jim’s partner in practice is coming back over to the house today so the three of us can discuss. That’s what happens when you get three left brain analytical nerds on the case. Feels like a post date eval session. That poor girl! 🤣

She’s a physician too so really I’m the odd one out. Part of dinner last night (a large part) was shop talk and I was like 🙄 …. boooooorrrring! At times it felt a little like swinging dicks, if you know what I mean. And I’m done with trying to impress people with my accomplishments. But at least with all that I could just sink into the booth and not worry about what to talk about. 

Poetry never came up. My former career never came up. I brought up my kids at dinner, but that line of conversation lasted about a hot 30 seconds before it switched again back to something else. 

After dinner they came over to our house and we gave her a partial tour and had another drink. We were done pretty early as both Jim and his partner had to work at 8am this morning. I was thankful for the early night because I was quite exhausted. All I really wanted was to lay in my own bed and let sleep take the wheel. And that’s exactly what I did. 

Waking up today, I feel pretty good. I’m not looking forward to going back to my moms and going to put that off for as long as possible. I’ve got a few things to get done this weekend but really want to find that balance and give myself some “me” time too. (Part of that is the walk I’m on right now). 

On that note.. my times up. 

Cheers to the weekend and the Quest for balance, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-03-26 The Princess and Her Particularity 👑

It’s just past 6AM and I could use a nap. Oh how I want a do-over for my day yesterday or my night last night. What would I do differently? Not sure, but it’s just really rotten that I have to wake up, not in my own house and bed and then be tired on the Friday my hubby has off and not be my best self for the first double date I’ve gotten to go on in years. It just stinks! 

I can feel myself getting more bitchy as time with my mom drags on. Have you ever heard of the story “The Princess and the Pea?” It’s about a prince searching for a proper princess and finds it in an girl who doesn’t look the part but passes the test of being a true princess because she could sense the pea placed under 9 mattresses and could not get a good sleep. What a test!! 

My mom is that princess and let me tell you, if something is just one inch out of place, it needs to be fixed or she can’t rest. Her mind can’t rest. I thought I had a one track mind sometimes but her mind is out of hand. Off the top of my head I could probably name a dozen instances of her insistence and persistence and at the hospital. It was the nurses and techs and PT and OT that had to field most of that. Here, at her house, it’s whoever is taking care of her. Yesterday and last night that was me.

I’m not the one that first brought up that fable. That was the very kind and patient soul from PT that came to help teach my mom how to log roll out of bed and get back in. I think the comment came out when they were getting her back in bed and she was barking orders on how to position her, the bed, and the pillows below her. “More in the middle. I need scootched up. Too far! Too far! The pillow needs to be behind me, but not too far under. That’s too far. OK, I guess that’s ok for now. This bed always deflates and then I feel like I’m laying in a hole. Where’s my call button? It needs to be right here on this side by my head so I can hear the TV. The tray table needs to be on this side too. Put my chapstick closer, and my phone, and the ice chips, and the lotion. I don’t need that, you can put it somewhere else. There’s this trash that needs to be thrown away…”

That’s just a taste. I’m not exaggerating. If that paragraph was hard to read, just think how it is to listen to or be the recipient of all that. The PT person just laughed it off and called her the princess (which I think she liked) and then when he left I explained the story. She doesn’t deny it. She actually admits to all of it and just says that’s the way she is. 

Coming home yesterday wasn’t going to change anything. So far she’s lamented about the bathmat not being straight and against the tub, the counter being full of stuff (which is a bunch of things we brought from the hospital and have not sorted through yet), and the fact that I got ice cubes out of the tray and not out of the bowl in the bottom of the freezer. I had to take the dog out like 5 times. Even last night when I took her out at 9, that wasn’t good enough. I had to take her out again just before bed. And getting her comfortable where she can reach everything is just as painful as it was in the hospital. 

But what can I do? 

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. When my sister arrives today I’m going to get gone and free myself physically and mentally of the burdens of the past two weeks. I’m going to go home and shower and try to nap if there is time. I’m going to try not to drink too much too fast and be on my best behavior for our houseguests. And I’m going to put off going back to her house as long as I can. 

I don’t know when I will get a walk in today, outside of maybe walking the dog. The dog… she’s very sweet but don’t even get me started on taking care of her or dogs in general for that matter. I’m a cat person. That probably says enough.

Wow… another total rant day. Wonderful.

I briefly scrolled through the last few weeks of posts and this nonsense has really taken over my life. Whatever.

Happy Friday Ya’ll,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-03-26 The light at the end of the tunnel…

My mom is being discharged from the hospital today. Who gets to deal with getting her home, grocery shopping, fetching a walker, and staying with her at her home to make sure she’s ok and not at risk for falling down or ripping her stitches, ostomy, or drain tubes? 

That would be yours truly. 

She’s been in the hospital for two weeks which means I’ve been to the hospital every day for two weeks. It’s just draining. 

Jim asked me this morning if it felt good to know she’s getting out today. I’m not feeling good. I’m feeling like this is “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” 

Now.. instead of having an entire care team handling her every need and want, it’s up to my siblings and I. And I get the first shift. I pushed for this to happen today because I selfishly need her settled in at home today so that by tomorrow at about 3, I can cut and run away. I’ve had special Friday plans for this Friday night for a while. 

I’m really hoping that by this time tomorrow, we’re getting ready to switch shifts and my sister is embracing the tasks at hand. 

After all, I’ve had two weeks head start seeing moms pain and struggles and a week to get used to the reality of drainage tubes and wound care and an ostomy bag. I’m squeamish for sure but am convinced that anyone can get used to anything if they don’t have other options. 

Of course I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head about all this. The one that’s irritated because the responsibility falls on me (or a few of us). It’s selfish thinking but the Universe be damned, I never got this much care from my mother ever. 

It’s selfish thinking but she wouldn’t do all this for me if the situation were reversed. She said that. She knows it. She talked yesterday about her relationship with her mom and they weren’t close. She was just her mom and nothing more. Oh yeah, that’s familiar. So let’s just blame grandma while we’re at it for all the ways I was neglected. Because my mom was never taught any different. 

I’d buy that more if people were incapable of growing or changing outside of what they were taught at 10 years old. I’m not buying it because I, myself was able to break out of that “arms length” parenting mentality and have great relationships with my kids. We’re open and honest and I make sure all the time they feel loved and supported and like they are my priority. 

The way I feel about my mom is selfish and I know I can still grow and change beyond it, but the past will never change and I’ll always harbor resentment about being the “easiest” kid. I’ll always have that nagging voice that reminds me that my mom will never change so why should I?! 

It would all be easier if I knew there was a light at the end of this tunnel. But the only light at the end of the tunnel is the one that will eventually come for us all, and take us away to alternate plains of existence. The one that will supposedly judge us for our choices or admit us to a better or worse place. I don’t believe in any of that, but the light seems like the best way to describe the force that will greet us when our physical bodies give out. 

My mom has stage 3C ovarian cancer and the prognosis isn’t stellar, to say the least. She’s up against who knows how many rounds of chemo and multiple future surgeries. She wants to fight right now but if this first course of treatment and surgery doesn’t “fix her right up“ then she’ll prolly call it quits.

I don’t have extraordinary knowledge. I don’t have a crystal ball. Sometimes, I don’t even have a desire to know more than I know right now. Today.

And what I know right now, today Is that I have to get on with doing all the things and all the stuff. Or it won’t all get done before duty calls.

With peace and love and hopefully cheeseburgers and vodka lemonade… or

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-03-21 Questions of Life and Death

I guess it’s been a few days. I guess that’s what happens when life gets busy. I feel like I complain a lot about not ever having enough time but then something happens and I have even less time. I guess that’s the nature of life. Experiences that are constantly teaching you that you don’t really know Jack about life.

As of today my mom has been in the hospital for 10 days and she’s probably got 3 or 4 to go. I’m the designated visitor (at the Med Center you can only have one) and I’ve been to see her everyday. It’s fine, but I’m kinda tired of my new routine and am really looking forward to her discharge. 

She is making good progress improving but still needs so much help from the staff I can see that after discharge is when the real work will begin for those of us who will be her home care team. At least once she gets home she can have as many visitors as she wants. And I’m sure I’ll be able to get a break when my youngest sister comes home to help. 

My brother has made no mention of trying to come home for anything. I might be harboring some resentment towards him for that. But whatever. 

In embracing my new routine I’ve had no problem letting go of a few of the household tasks I typically have high standards for. I’m letting the kitchen go a little and litter boxes don’t need scooping daily. The cats will live. And if the other humans don’t like it, they can do something about it their damn selves. 

It’s Sunday and I spent some time checking my stats though I suppose that’s another thing I have let go thinking about most of the week. I didn’t write anything in my planner and there have been no to-do lists so the only stats I can collect are those from my FitBit and phone. 

My exercise is solid and sleep has been average thanks to the Trazidone. My new screen time goals feel unachievable and it’s not the social media interaction that’s the problem.. it’s text messaging. And that’s kind of unavoidable. However, I might do a full court press on that after my mom gets discharged. 

She “sat me down” yesterday to tell me that she’s decided to fight the cancer and wants to see her life extend beyond this next year. This might seem like a no-brainer but for her it’s counter to what she’s always thought about decisions like this.

For years she’s said that if she got this old she wouldn’t put herself through any extensive life saving measures. That she would just let go and let whatever it is take her naturally. I know this because she’s told all of us that several times, especially after watching her own mom pass away. 

This issue, though, came on so suddenly and she was in so much pain that she just went along with what the doctors and hospitals were doing and telling her she needed. She said she was caught between a rock and hard place and didn’t really have a choice. Now that her primary pain causing issue is on the mend, she’s facing a different predicament and 6 months of chemo and more surgery.

The way she sees it is that she does have more of a choice now. She can just go home and let the cancer spread and take her or she can fight it. So the conversation yesterday with her decision to fight is a big deal to her. 

I told her years ago I would support any decisions she would make. I still do. I haven’t verbally said that lately because I didn’t want that to influence her in any way. I mean, I can’t imagine saying to her now “if you want to die, I’m ok with that.” It’s got to be her decision alone. 

Instead of verbalizing my support of her decision I’ve just been trying to remind her of all the things she loves about life. And when she started talking about traveling and putting her toes in sand and doing things like walking out in the rain, I’ve been encouraging her. 

I might have even promised to take her to New York City. The Universe only knows if that will ever come to pass, but if it kept her thinking about living instead of dying, that’s ok. 

If I’m being honest, I don’t know if there’s anything that can repair how I feel about our relationship or her. I’ve lived my entire life feeling like my parents did a crappy job at being parents. I’ve held a lot of resentment towards both of them about how alone and invisible I was as a kid. I feel like my moms part in that was because she’s so selfish and made so many selfish choices. Some of which had a direct hand in the trajectory of my adult life.

I suppose that’s what makes her current “demanding” behavior harder to take. She’s particular and begun taking really well to the attention and immediate reactions to her “calls.” Those poor nurses probably can’t wait until she gets discharged either.

Most of what I’m doing I’m definitely doing out of obligation and my desire to “do the right things.” Of course I can’t tell her how I really feel. Not while she’s contemplating living or dying. 

I’m not sure how this will play out or if the extra time I spend with her can heal my old wounds. I really doubt it. I just keep thinking it will all get easier when my sister comes home. We’ll see. 

I’ve been walking about an hour and have to get going with all the Sunday things. 

With peace and love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-03-14 Designated Daughter

The saying “Hurry up and wait” is often attributed to the military but I think is also quite appropriate for the hospitals and medical care. Nothing like waiting around all day for something to happen or change and being disappointed because nothing happens. And why is it that the waiting and nothing is also somehow exhausting? It makes no sense. 

My mom has a tube up her nose and down her throat and she was sure that when the doc (finally) came in yesterday in the late afternoon she was going to get them to take it out. Of course the opposite happened. He basically told her it was a slow process and would take upwards of 72 more hours to see real progress to help her predicament. 

Her predicament becoming more complicated every damn day. Her predicament being cancerous tumors lining her abdomen, a partial bowel obstruction, and now a large amount of fluid building up around her lower abdomen. 

The doc showed us a comparison of the cat scans last night, and the changes that have developed in just a few short days. Of course the build up of fluid is going to make her obstruction more difficult to resolve. I have to imagine all that pressure is making it worse. 

I’ve had limited exposure to medical complications in my life. I’ve never witnessed some of this. And let me tell you it’s pretty gross to think about a tube sucking the contents of your GI track out through the nose. It’s disgusting and smells horrible, but it’s the most non-invasive way to clear a person out (when the opposite end is not working). 

I think they are going to try to drain some fluid out of her today. It’s strange for me to say I will know more when my husband wakes up. He knows the surgical oncologist that’s in charge of my mom’s care at the Med Center. From Med school I think or maybe early in their respective careers. They talked on the phone last night but it was too close to the time I was just out of it. 

Out of it meaning that my unexplained exhaustion plus having a big meal when I arrived home (with a glass of wine), had lulled me into a sleepy state around 9:30pm. They talked as I was taking my tired brain to bed. If Jim gave me an update after that call, I don’t remember it. Right now I wish I did. I wish I knew what last night’s CT showed and what the plan for today is. 

It’s still pretty early and I’m dreading going back to the hospital. I was awake at 4:30ish and up by 6am. My mom texted before 7 and I’m currently on the treadmill (of course). 

*** 

I think my mom has a high pain threshold but very low tolerance for extended discomfort. When my grandma (her mom) passed away she pretty much said she didn’t want to “go out like that.” Withering away in a hospital bed, losing control of physical capabilities and her marbles. I get it, but what else can you do? 

After the consult yesterday and seeing the CT on the screen, she became convinced that this was it. It was just enough evidence to solidify the fact that treating all of her issues was not only going to continue to be unpleasant (to say the least) but it was also not going to end anytime soon. 

Even if the obstruction is resolved in the next 5 days (with or without surgical intervention), she’ll be facing 6 months of chemo and eventual surgery in her abdomen. After the doctor left the room she pretty much told me she was done. Like “done done” and ready to check out of this life. What the Universe am I supposed to do with that? 

And why me? 

When my grandma passed, my mom made me promise that when the time came, I would help her out. But this is different. She’s otherwise healthy and enjoys life. She has a lot of friends and enjoys her book club and her dog and bird and going on trips. She can still do all that stuff when she gets better but she doesn’t see it that way.

She said she’s satisfied with the life she’s lived and has made peace with herself about all the bad things she’s done in her life. She’s also recently found a new belief in God. This was news to me. She’s been an atheist for as long as I can remember. 

It’s really challenging to talk a person through treatments and expectations when they don’t want any of it. So now I’m not just the designated visitor.. I’m the one responsible for convincing her it’s worth it to go through all this shit so she can feel better and keep living her life. 

I mean, I know what I promised her years ago but that was all hypothetical. What am I supposed to do? 

Again I ask.. why me? 

We’ve never been close. She’s so much closer to her youngest daughter and their mother/daughter experience was much better and more supportive than ours ever was. 

Growing up my mom was always so preoccupied with the other parts of her life and never had time for me. I was a very lonely kid. My parents were divorced and I lived with my mom but my primary role was babysitter. I had two younger sisters—8 and 16 years younger than me. I was an “easy” kid who was quiet and got good grades so easily never the priority. It sounds terrible but I feel like I never had the love and help and support I craved.

I left home at 18.. or rather I was kicked out because my mom chose to side with her husband in an ongoing conflict between him and I.

I moved in with my dad but that didn’t last long as I got married and escaped my situation completely when I was 19.

After I left home, I never looked back. And never had support from either of my parents in anything I went through as an adult. Yes, they showed up to celebrate holidays and birthdays but that’s about it. 

So why is it that I’m now in charge of both of them? 

I clearly have a chip on my shoulder. Good gravy!! 🙄

Jim says I have to be the person because I’m a good person and it’s the right thing to do. So after a lifetime of my parents doing the wrong things I have to suck it up and do the right things??!! 

Whatever. 

It’s now 8am and I’ve got 10K steps and should probably just quit lamenting.

Peace out, 

~Miss SugarCookie