It is 12:22am. I have had a hot bath and a full cup of vodka, but still, no sleep. There are things on my mind and Shirley probably said it best when she posted the quote, “small worries can cast big shadows” on Facebook.
I spent the day watching Lizzie play volleyball. I like volleyball during the school year because I like the girls and the parents and I like watching my daughter. In between games, she and I shared kale-cucumber-lime-ginger juice at Manna and then, later, when we stopped at home to check on Quinn, I overheard her singing again. I have been trying to catch her singing on video and she always shuts up as soon as I turn on the camera, so this time I told her that if she did not sing for at least 20 seconds, that I would not drive her to the tournament and how in the world was she going to explain that to her coach? I was teasing, of course, but she still played back:
I love listening to her sing because it is something I always wanted to do, but was too shy to do. It is kind of like getting a second chance. Me, once removed.
The lyrics, however, made me cry: “Who doesn’t long for someone to hold/Who knows how to love you without being told/Somebody tell me why I’m on my own
If there’s a soulmate for everyone.” Elizabeth, belting this out in the middle of our messy dining room, reminded me of my parents and about the crappy news we heard this week.
My parents met in high school, had me right out of college, and have been in love ever since. On Friday, we learned that my mom has a lump, the size of a grape, nesting in her thyroid. The CT scan showed “borderline lymph nodes,” whatever that means. Her doctor, and my mother, are suspicious that this is cancer.
My momma texted me the test results while I was in the middle of teaching drawing. I walked into the bathroom to wipe away some tears before writing a pass to the library for a student. Later, I let myself sob deep, heavy sobs for about sixty seconds and then I stopped and I felt the way I felt when doctors told me that Quinn was going to die. I felt the way I felt when my pediatrician suspected that Luke, whose spleen was growing like bread rising, had leukemia. I felt kind of ready for battle.
I was composed enough that when I told Lizzie about the lump and she said, “What?! Who will make sourcream twists at Christmas? Wait, is Grandma DYING?” I was able to answer, “Elizabeth, everyone is dying.” That reminded me of how my Lolo always loved the joke that comedian said …”That is the thing about life. It doesn’t end well.”
Later on Friday night, my parents, who had been watching Quinn during the day, delivered Quinn to William’s volleyball game and Lizzie said, later, “Grandpa looked so sad.” He might have been sad, but really I think he was just exhausted of watching Quinn, who was so excited to be at the playground, shit his pants.
We won’t know if my mom has cancer or not until after the biopsy next week. She meets with the surgeon on Tuesday. For now, we wait. Wait and pray and wait and pray. I will tell you this. I cannot lose my mother right now. This is bad timing. She needs to live until she is really old.
She turned sixty-four this year and we all joked that it was her “Beatles birthday.”Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four? Turns out that the answer is yes. I still need her and John and Shirley made her dinner tonight, so I guess the collective “we” are still feeding her.
At first I felt a little guilty … like maybe all those years of worrying about my thyroid and my health created the lump in her own thyroid. But now, later, after watching Lizzie all day long, I kind of hope that this lump is only a worry lump . . . pain that my momma took in my place and instead of cancer, it is like a scar. A scar that reminds her that she loves me and that she helped heal me and it is not cancer at all, but the sacred mark of a mother.
But maybe it is not that … maybe it is bad. Either way, if you could just say a soft, heartfelt prayer that her “grape” magically shrinks, I would really so much appreciate it. Your thoughts, well, they worked for Quinn and they worked for Luke. I am asking one more time. It is my dad’s soulmate.