When someone you love is fighting for their life, a lot of stuff goes by the wayside.
A more basic version of you emerges. You develop a predator-like focus on the beasts you’re fending off. For our family, those beasts were cancer and death. We were on the side of many more years and love overcoming illness.
Once the battle was over, my focus seemed to shatter into a thousand pieces of distracted attention.
Lately I’ve been working with my SuperGlue, in tongue-over-lip concentration, trying to fit at least a good portion of the pieces back together again.
The pieces are interesting! And shocking.
Take, for example, my daughter Prima’s bedroom closet. It was bursting at the seams with too-small clothes, socks and shoes. While I was the cancer predator, I just shoved new stuff in there, making small pliant promises I would go through it all later.
Later came the other evening. My younger daughter out with her dad, we dove in and began culling through the mess. I tackled her underwear drawer first. I found my 8-year-old daughter had been squeezing herself into size 4, 5, and 6 panties.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” she told me bluntly, when I apologetically pointed out the size discrepancy. “They stretched out.”
Oodles of guilt and shame were followed by a profound love of my Prima, who tends to find the silver lining, especially when she can spare someone’s feelings.
Another interesting piece was our desk. Sheesh! Outdated bills had started mating under the piles of unrequited junk mail, coupons that shouted, “FREE!” birthday cards never sent and school notices that never notified us. (Me: Did you know Prima has a half day today? Mr. B: No, did you?)
A carefully placed stack of colorful woven baskets yielded bills from the early cancer predator days, shoved away and now outdated, thankfully, and easy to shred.
I’ve woken up! And the living room needs painting and the floor needs changing and our lives need a fresh coat of paint.
The cancer predator was cruel, but it’s over now. And as much as I miss my Mom (with every thought and every breath, every single day), I am glad it’s gone – even if I have to start with tight underwear.