Breaking Apart

Breaking Apart

It seems like joy continues to race ahead of me, taunting me with its presence in the lives of others. Finishing my cancer treatment was supposed to be a happy time, one of celebrations and new beginnings.

And yet…now a divorce.

The pain of this breaking–both physical and emotional pain–is indescribable. Having prayed and pleaded and discussed and loved, I only have emptiness. The man who once shared my bed and my life is leaving, looking forward to a life without those responsibilities.

I don’t know if I can love again. Perhaps I have missed that chance at happiness, that chance at having a forever partner.

Looking around at what was our home, I remember all of those dreams that we had and wonder what lies ahead. I now face what remains of my middle age alone. The prospect of that loneliness stretching on forever saddens me.

Although some apparently have divorce parties nowadays, I see nothing to celebrate. Marriage is a lifelong commitment–a covenant–and the breaking of our vows will only lead to heartbreak.

It is overwhelming. Somehow, though, I must move forward.

Small Rebellions

small rebellions

During a recent discussion with my dad, we were reminiscing a bit, and he admitted that I was probably the easiest child to raise. I rarely rebelled and tried my hardest to excel in school.

When you live in a small town, though, and your father is the head of your school…well, rebellion generally isn’t on the menu.

However, sometimes girl nerds have to do their own thing. And back in 1989, that was attending the premiere showing of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

What was the problem with that, you ask? Well, I had a BIG geometry test the next day. Pressure, pressure. Still, I had been studying for the test for at least a week, and I really, really wanted to see the latest Indiana Jones film before everyone else.

My parents let me go, but I knew that I must do well on the test the next day.

That night was perhaps one of the best memories from my teenage years. I and another fangirl friend went to the movie alone and thoroughly enjoyed every single minute.

Even before the movie started, we had a surprise visit from the actor who played the scout master in the film; he talked for a bit and shared his experience in being part of such a big movie. We were thrilled to hear from someone who was actually there, someone who played a part in the latest Indiana Jones film.

That night I barely slept. It was the first movie premiere that I had ever attended, and I was ecstatic. I lay in bed replaying all of the scenes from the film in my mind and humming the theme song. Little sleep, but it didn’t matter.

My friend and I enjoyed bragging the next day about how we had attended the movie premiere and giggled about the humorous bits that only we could share. The nerd girls finally had something that the others didn’t.

And you know what? I still aced the geometry test.

Mother’s Day and Breast Cancer

Source: Mother’s Day and Breast Cancer

Mother's day cancer

My mother died in 1999 after a recurrence of breast cancer.

With little information at the time–no internet, only the beginnings of patient rights–we didn’t recognize the signs of a recurrence until it was too late. Her behavior began to change over time, showing signs of recklessness and forgetfulness. And then she suddenly had trouble walking, having collapsed at home.

Doctors in the ER informed my father that a scan revealed tumors along her spine. She was released home with pain medication, but little else to do as far as next steps. Her extreme reaction to chemotherapy in 1992 precluded any more chemo treatment for the recurrence, and so we were left with pain management and the awareness that her time with us would be limited.

After a call from my father, I drove home from college. She died the next morning on our couch.

Since then, I have regularly avoided going out on Mother’s Day, and that now includes social media as well. People say that the pain and loss of losing your mother–or any other family member, for that matter–lessens over time, but I believe it is more your learning to live with the loss.

And now this year, I have breast cancer yet again. The same cancer that killed my mother so long ago.

I am finding this day to be more difficult than I expected. My flat chest, many medications, and constant pain only serve to remind me of my mother in the most horrible way, that of a shared illness and possible death. And the celebrations that litter my Facebook stream only enhance that awareness.

My mother was loving but a rather complicated woman in that she had a misdiagnosed mental illness. If she had lived longer, she might have been able to receive the treatment that she needed. I know that she did the best she could considering her struggles, and I will honor her for that.

But I cannot join in on the celebration of this holiday, especially this year. I loved my mother despite everything, and the pain of her loss is still too great even after all these years.

If this is the first Mother’s Day that you face alone, please know that my heart and prayers are with you.

The Defiant Cat

defiant cat

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be a year since we rescued Volta and his brother, Ampere.

I suppose it was fate that brought us together that night. My cancer diagnosis was still new, and the surgery to implant my port was just a few days away. So we went for an evening drive to play Ingress and Pokemon Go, just to escape the badness that had only begun.

We found these two hot and scared little kittens in the middle of the park that night. Volta, small and yet brave, stood in the middle of the street, meowing for help. My husband scooped him up even as we heard the pitiful cries from his brother echoing in the storm drain.

A car drove by several times and parked farther up the street, watching us as we struggled to coax Ampere out of the darkness. Finally, finally, they were safe with us.

Since then, strong, sparky Volta has grown into a defiant cat, ruling the roost, so to speak. He loves to dominate and annoy the other cats, caring little when he is disciplined for his behavior.

Volta has matured and mellowed a bit over the past year, but he is certainly obstinate.

He reminds me of a feral cat who had a run-in with our little Anakin so many years ago. So that Anakin could survey our fenced-in yard at our old house, my husband had placed a chair in the middle of the yard. Anakin would sit on that chair, happily enjoying the sunshine.

One afternoon, however, I heard Anakin barking angrily. I ran outside to find that feral cat–obviously a tom who paid little attention to dogs or man–sitting defiantly on Anakin’s chair. The cat ignored Anakin’s barking, really seeming to relish the fact that he was disturbing our Shih-tzu.

I shooed the cat away so that Anakin could have some peace, but I had to admire the strength of that cat.

And now we have our own defiant cat, one who tests our patience each and every day. Although he often disrupts the quiet in our household, I’m not sure how we ever lived without him.