Friday, July 29, 2011

Juliette Avenue

On a lark, I convinced hubby that I needed to go to Manhattan to complete a photography assignment. He agreed to drive.

I spied this neat church and asked him to loop the block so I could use it for the background of my photo. I knew I wanted an intersection, too, so I could record some motion. I am pretty happy with this photo.

Today was a lovely day. I think I have decided that I ADORE cloud cover. I heard Alex remark from the back seat, "I don't think it has been less than 80 degrees since we got here!" It showed 75 very comfortable degrees on the bank thermometer next to us.

Slowly, I am getting the last few boxes unpacked and pretties hung upon the walls. It is amazing how hanging a few family photos and some art on the walls has made such a difference for me. It truly has uplifted my spirits.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hooooo, Doh-gie! It's HOT!

Gosh! It was really hot today! With the heat index, it was 114 degrees. I never knew what a heat index was....until I moved here. I learned quickly. We had a lovely thunderstorm roll through a couple of hours ago. Okay, it was maybe a little more turbulent than lovely. The wind blew over trash cans and a cast iron bistro chair! I loved the rain that accompanied the storm. I have always loved rain. It is always so cooling and soothing. The lightning and thunder sure made things more exciting.

I have a deep desire to draw or paint something....I feel blocked though. There is a part of me that feels like this isn't a place where I am supposed to spread out some art supplies and make a mess. It is a comfortable home, but it doesn't feel like my home yet. I wondered if I needed to paint some walls or something. Well, that is a definite thing! There will have to be some paint in here somewhere. These white walls are making me a little crazy. I have several pieces of art hanging on the walls and that helps. I still have boxes to unpack and before I can do that, I have to get more shelves. Sigh! Oh the joys of moving into a new home.

I just need to settle and get comfy here, I think. I used to love to sit out in my garden in the mornings to enjoy my coffee, but it is so blasted hot when I wake up, I never want to sit outside. I find myself longing for Fall.

For now, hubby and I are trying to adjust to living together. He is an early riser....and I am a night owl. I like having my computer in the bedroom so I can come in here and close the door to escape the chaos of a large family if needed. And, as always, I just seem to work better everyone in the house is quietly resting. Makes sense, eh?

I just want to find a comfortable groove .... into which I can settle and be productive.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Twists and Turns

It's been a week since I learned how sick my dad is.

Stage 4 lung cancer. Ruthless, unforgiving and most certainly unforgivable.

My emotions have been all over the board through the past week. In some moments, I feel like I want to laugh again. The next moment, I start crying. So many memories have flooded my brain, too. Like all the jack-o-lanterns my dad carved because I didn't want to touch the slimy pumpkin guts and the time Dad took me to the father-daughter ice cream social for the girl scouts troop I was in and all the beautiful decorations for my wedding that he hauled across the country for three days from South Carolina to Colorado for my wedding last September....and how he knew I needed a new car ... so he searched eBay and found my PT Cruiser in

My dad has been my go-to guy. I knew that if I had an issue, I could talk with him and he would listen and usually had some good advice for me to work through the "stuff".... now, I am here in his house....and between his naps, I try to make the most of every little bit I can get.

I told him how much I am going to miss him. He told me I am going to be all right. I told him, maybe so, but this is just too soon. I am not ready for him to go anywhere. He reminded me that sometimes we can't choose these things. I told him I sure didn't think it's fair. He told me that we all have lessons to learn and teach and I said to him the thing that crossed my mind on Monday night. I told him how I was yelling at Rob that night and I told Rob that I thought it was the dumbest thing I had heard of .... learning a lesson by losing your dad.

That Monday night, Rob asked me if I thought I wanted to meet with and talk with the Chaplain. I looked at him. My expression on my face was one of disbelief. I asked him, "Why would I want to talk to her??!!" he suggested . "Grief counseling....?" I was irritated by that. I said, "No! No, I don't want to go talk to the chaplain. I don't want to talk to her about grief counseling....DAMMIT! I don't want to grieve my dad! My dad is too young and he should not be sick enough to have a short prognosis and NO! I don't want grief counseling because I don't want GRIEF!" Rob sat and looked at me. I know he was worried about me.

I was so angry that night. I was starting new classes in school. I sat down at my computer and reviewed the classes' requirements. I learned that the art course was mostly about learning to draw a human figure. I sat at my desk and started at the computer screen as the cursor blinked in perfect rhythm. It crossed my mind that I am not going to live forever and why the hell should I challenge myself to learn how to draw a human figure if someday I am just going to die, too? This whole life concept just suddenly made no sense to me at all! I mean sure if someone challenged me, I could produce a logical answer, but really, why do we have to live if we just end up dying?

I am a mother and I love my children with every fiber of my being.  I thought about how some day, my children and I will go through this. It broke my heart a little more.

I thought of my very dear friend, Susan. Susan's first-born drowned. She had to bury her own child. I could not fathom that pain. I thought about what it was like to see my Grandmother go through the dying process for the same diagnosis that my dad was given. It was so painful to witness. She was my grandmother and somewhere in my heart, I managed to work through it and accept. For whatever reason, I felt like we as people find it easier to embrace when it is a grandparent. But now, I am losing a parent and this hurts like hell. I hate that it is cancer. I hate seeing how weak and pale he has become. I hate knowing that when he eats food for his own hunger, he is feeding that damned tumor that is crushing his ability to breathe. I hate that when he is so sleepy it is because of the tumor stealing him away from us a little bit at a time. I hate all of that so much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No, Thank You.

I waited to hear back from Karen. She was going to tell me what the doctors told her. I hadn't heard anything. I sent her a text message asking how things were looking. She called me right away. I answered. She said, "It doesn't look good, Kelly." I asked, "What are they saying?"

The day before, Karen called me to tell me she had taken my dad to the emergency room at the hospital because of a cough he couldn't get rid of and she told me his hematocrit numbers were in the single digits. She also told me he'd lost 35 pounds in six weeks' time. I knew it was cancer. I knew it was lung cancer. I tried to not think about it.

When I asked her what the doctors told me, she confirmed it. My dad has lung cancer.

I fell into a heap on the floor in the hospital where I was. I was there with my children having routine asthma check ups. Suddenly, the world faded away and it was just Karen on the phone...and myself. I was sobbing.

I pulled myself together enough to ask, "How big is it? Has it spread? Are they saying anything about whether or not it is treatable? I mean....what now!??"

She cried softly and said, "We just don't know yet. He is having the biopsy done now. We will know more when they are finished."

I couldn't believe it. The news was just too much. I felt like I could never believe it. I talked with Karen for a short while. When I felt I had enough information, I told her, "I need to call my sister. I will call you in a while." We hung up.

I dialed my sister's phone number. She answered. I tried to be calm. I asked her to call our mother with the three-way dialing feature. She did. When I knew that we were all three on the phone, I told them, "I am calling with sad news. Dad has cancer."

There was a quiet pause. Danielle sounded calm and collected. I listened to my mom and sister talk a little bit back forth about how maybe it was treatable and maybe my dad would pull out of this one like he has so many other scary things. Somehow, in my bones I just knew "This is it! I am losing my dad. This is going to take my dad from me." Eventually, all three of us were crying and reminiscing and checking plane fare prices and laughing and then crying again." The three-way phone call ended and my children and husband sat on the tile floor around me. I stared off into space trying to make sense of it. I remembered that when I packed my boxes to move, I knew that as soon as I got here, I was going to deal with cancer. I didn't know who, I didn't know when, I didn't know any of that, I just knew that someone had cancer and I would find out after I got here.....and I did...and now I am mad! I even said, "I'm losing my dad." Ryan scolded me and said, "Don't say that!" I think he was holding on to any shred of possibility.

When I called Karen again later, she told me she'd seen the x-rays and the tumor was quite large. Later, I was told there are tumors in both of his lungs and it has spread to other areas.

I cried a lot of tears yesterday. I thought I had cried so much that I couldn't cry any more. And then I would cry some more.

When I woke up this morning, my house was quiet. My head hurt. The pain was a textbook migraine headache. I wanted to sleep some more. My eyelids felt stuck closed, but after more-than-usual effort, they opened. They hurt, but they opened. I sat up in my bed and felt mad. Just. Plain. Angry. I thought: "Um...NO! This was not the storyline I chose or planned! I will take my money back and we can try this again!" I sat in the quiet room and relived all the horror of news I'd received the day before. I think part of my mind was trying to make sure I understood it all again. I was sure I wasn't asleep. I was sure it was real and true.

I got up out of bed and shuffled across the room to the bathroom. I knew my eyes and face were so swollen from all the crying. I looked at my reflection and felt so sad for me. My eyes were red and puffy. They looked like they were literally blistered. There were big, black circles under my eyes. I touched my ring fingers to them. They hurt. I thought, "My GOD! I seriously don't think my eyes have EVER been like this from crying....." I shuffled my way back to my bed. I didn't want to be anywhere but there. I laid my head back on my pillow and thought of my dad. I wondered how much more time I would have to be able to call him and talk to him whenever I want to. The hot, salty tears welled in my eyes and spilled out onto my face. Now, my eyes felt like they were burning. I wondered if anyone had ever cried so much as I had.

I pulled myself together again and I called my dad. He answered.
I said, "Good morning!"
He sounded a little winded, but said, "Good morning!"
I asked, "Did you get any sleep last night?"
He said, "Yeah! I did! Did you?"
I said, "No, Dad.  No, I didn't. I think I am just too sad."
He said, "I think we all are."
More tears came. My throat felt like it was closing off. I fought for a breath and blurted out, "I am not ready for you to go anywhere! Who am I supposed to call when I feel sad? Who will be my cheerleader, Dad?"
He tried to remind me that I could turn to God. I said, "But when I need to hear you tell me you're proud of me or that I am doing a good job...." He cut me off and reminded me again that God is in my corner. I sighed and angrily shouted, "That's all well and good, but dammit it isn't the same, Dad! I still need to physically hear you say those things to me!"
He said, "I know. I know. You're right. It isn't the same."

My heart hurts too much to remember how the conversation ended.

My dad has made a choice for comfort ... not treatment.

My heart is broken.