My kids ask me to watch shows that they watch knowing full well I hardly ever watch television. My son has asked me to watch Breaking Bad for years. I tried, I really did try to watch it but my delicate sensibilities couldn’t seem to prioritize my time to include that. More recently my son has asked me to watch Jim and Andy, The documentary about Jim Cary being Andy Kaufman in the making of the movie Man on the Moon.
At the end of the documentary they cover briefly Andy talking about dying of lung cancer. In that moment my eyes started to well up. Side note, I have a cold. I was in the bath with an entire bag of epsom salts on board while watching this and really the last thing you want to do when you have a head cold is cry, but I am a crier.
In that moment I had a flash in my mind of my kids experience of their mom going into the hospital seemingly healthy just an hour before gathering their things together to go to their cousins (on their step-moms side) wedding. Ella was to be in the wedding and she was so excited and she looked so beautiful in her dress. The kids didn’t find out I went into the hospital until after my surgery, I think. I do not have much ownership of the memories of my month of July thanks to painkillers. I know the kids did not know I was in surgery when they were at the wedding, I am so very thankful for that. I love that my daughter could fully enjoy being in her first wedding not as the child of the groom or bride. It is just a different experience.
After that weekend I have been told that the kids visited me in the hospital. Unfortunately, like my father and step mom visiting me at the hospital, I do not remember. All I can think of is how bizarre that might have been for them. Mom is fine and then mom is all messed up in the hospital with a poop bag and she had cancer. To project my experience into this reflection of my children’s experience, my kids lived through what I was terrified of all growing up – that my mom would get cancer like her mom did. How crazy that my kids are living my huge childhood fear, and they are doing it with such amazing grace and maturity. I am keeping in mind that to hear that your mom “had” cancer and now it is gone is a best case scenario. We use this fact to our advantage in a humorous way frequently in the house.
Sam: (dramatically) “Ella! Be nice to your mother she has the cancer!
Ella: (exasperated) “Ugh, she HAD cancer sam. Geez!’
*insert eye roll*
*epic teenage wrestling ensues that ends up in someone yelling
or in the fetal position on the floor*
We cope through humor in our home, so I am sorry if our light nature offends anyone but it is how we get through the little bumps in life’s journey.
This is part of my kids story. My mom had cancer when I was 13. My mom had cancer when I was 17. Although in true form, it may sometime come out as “My mom got butt cancer” especially from my older child. I know it is what my wife says sometimes. But really this is part of their life fabric. It hopefully will just be a blip in their life story but it is part of it.
Twelve days after my second and final release from the hospital it was my daughters 14th birthday. We wanted it to be GREAT! We could not bear a “blah” birthday the same month mom gets diagnosed with cancer. We rallied that the night before and that day to start her room makeover and getting her friends arranged to come over. I was exhausted. Jenn was exhausted. But we loved doing it and in turn she loved it. SCORE! And back to being a bump on a log and healing. Then I started chemo the week before she started high school at a HUGE high school – freshman class of 400. Her eighth grade graduating class was 11 kids. That is a minor adjustment. She has handled it like a champ. She is handling the class load well with all A’s so far. Navigating this new territory – observing for a while and hopefully jumping in to clubs or sports eventually. We are all very proud of her.
I have had the thought that “This is my sons senior year, fuck.” My first little birdie is going to be spreading his wings and flying out of the coop soon. Actually I think if he had his preference he would jet propel out of the nest but mama bird hid the jetpack. He is going to be amazing at life. I have allowed to let my self get bummed that for all of his senior year I will be going through chemo and having my second surgery. That’s not fun. But it is not as bad as I thought actually. With the cancer stuff I had to slow down. I had to shut down the business I just started which was doing amazing and keeping me very busy. I am home. What a gift in my sons senior year. I can have conversations with him when time gives us a window and the mood is right. I don’t know how many windows I would have had with a thriving business and working part-time for a non-profit. I could not have asked for anything more – a year of many windows of opportunity to get to know the man we are sending out into the world to be amazing at being him. I hope he takes risks (but not stupid risks). I hope he gets the opportunity with those risks to fail.
FAIL – First Attempt At Learning. I am as amazing as I am because I failed a whole lot and was eventually wise with my failures. Even that, finding wisdom in failure, took me a long time to realize. Before my realization of the gifts in failure, I just got upset or sad. That may have festered in my body over time and landed me here, I don’t know. No one knows why my body decided to be bedfellows with the big C. I will still hound my adult children to get colonoscopies at the age of 30. They are going to love me when the time comes.
At the end of the Jim and Andy documentary Jim Cary gets existential and talks about our time on this planet and free will or the lack thereof. What stood out to me was when he said:
“You are on a spiritual journey period
and we are all going to end up in the same place.
If there is such a thing, and maybe there isn’t.
Maybe there is just this and that is it.
Just me and the teacup. That’s it, there is us.
Just me and the universe man.
I like that. That’s fine.”
This is all part of my spiritual journey and those around me will take from it what they will. It is all just one crazy ride.