Lessons And Laughter

As for my daughter, I find myself trying really hard to teach her to be independent.  The probability of my absence in her life has forced me to push her harder than I ever thought I would need to.

Certain lessons are about showing her appreciation for knowledge, being emotionally strong, and learning proper etiquette.  Still today, I have to remind her, “you’ll want your drawers organized like this, so you can easily find what you’re looking for,” “don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and stand up for yourself,” and “even mommy wants to have certain things, but we don’t have to buy every thing we see.”

The latter may have sunk in a little.  When she sees some thing she likes, she’ll point out, “Mommy, I don’t want you to buy it, but come and see this.”  She seems happy even just to show it to me.  Hopefully, that’s how she really feels, or have I given her a manipulation skill?  I am glad to report that I don’t fall into that trap.

In a mother’s view, this may all seem normal.  It’s much deeper than that for me.  Not able to see a secured future – a feeling we don’t understand until we are struck with that real possibility – I want Isabella to learn quickly, in case I am not there tomorrow.  Surely, this has put some strain on her.  I try to stop myself from forcing her to grow up too soon, but my fear of an early demise gets the better of me.


Don’t Waste My Time

When I host a dinner at my house, I tend to eat less.  The energy required to prepare limits my intake and, frankly, the aromas alone fill me up.  This also helps avoid the lengthy digestion in the presence of my guests.  I am able to clear up after dinner without sufferance, so they don’t feel obligated to take care of it.

Timing the preparation sufficiently is important, so I can make room for resting before guests arrive.  Fruit and dessert is prepared in advance, so there is less of my attention required after dinner.

I love having guests over, so I’m constantly finding ways to handle tasks more efficiently.  Meals that don’t need much last minute handling, provides desperately needed downtime.  Making the beds, one side at a time, became a staple once using energy had a greater cost.  Sitting on the couch is preferred when I’m folding laundry.  Every task must be calculated, in order to best preserve calories and energy.


As I learned growing up, “my door is always open” still rings true.

I look forward to seeing you soon!


Shake, Shake, Shake

Often times I’d go to bed before my daughter, who was now two.  I had never had a problem staying awake, but the sleepiness became overwhelming.  The foot stool my sister had bought for me following my knee surgery came in handy again, since my high bed now demanded too much energy to climb into.

My husband would involve Isabella in tucking me into bed.  He would make a game of the liquid food bag he’d hook up to the dispensing machine.   “Shake, shake, shake,”  and he’d take it from her, careful enough not to drop the expensive liquid that would feed me throughout the night.  After he’d connect the bag to the machine’s tube and my J-tube, I’d kiss them goodnight, and fall asleep almost instantaneously.

The one-and-a-half-liter Peptamen nutritional supplement bags ran about six hundred and thirty-four dollars per dozen.  Paying them out of pocket for several weeks was tough;  but eventually, my insurance began to cover these costs.

Since that time, I’ve attempted, probably without success, to help Isabella understand my limitations.  “Mommy, why can’t you play with me?”  Playing was not on my mind.  As much as I wanted to please her, I wasn’t capable.  Even walking around the room for exercise took all my energy.  I watched her grow up that year from a distance, like a stranger, without the connection I longed for – as she did.

As digestion drags me to the couch, the sleepiness takes over instantly.  The process is very evident, and tasking on my body.  Today, I try to fight it some days, but it’s usually too strong.  The rapid metabolism turns my eyes heavy, forcing a nap.  Time and again I’ve had to explain to others, “I’m digesting, and need to rest.”  It’s unfathomable to some, but it’s out of my control.

Digestion time could last up to two hours, and is frustrating for some.  One of my brothers-in-law makes jokes about my getting away with not doing the dishes.  We laugh about it, but I wonder if he knows that I feel guilty about every one having to do things for me, even if it’s just cleaning up after a meal.

That guilt may stem from the constant help I’ve needed from my family since my diagnosis, or the assistance I was never able to provide them post cancer.  It takes me back to that feeling of what I could do for the benevolent sacrifice my mother provided during my treatments.  I know they don’t expect any thing more than for me to be healthy.

Another shooting that took too many innocent lives… when will it end?  We pray for Vegas and all the victims.



Mommy, Take Me With You

When the ambulance was called to take me to the hospital, when my symptoms and fever became unbearable, I knew it would traumatize my daughter.  So, getting on the gurney myself became a staple.  “Mommy’s just going to see the doctor with the ambulance, so I can get there faster.  It’s more comfortable for me on the bed.  See?”

If she wasn’t suspiciously quiet, she would ask, “Mommy, can I come with you?”  If that’s not separation anxiety, I don’t know what is.  It hurt me so much to leave her and to frighten her, but I had to do whatever was necessary to get better.  I suppose that’s fighting cancer – and she gave me the will to get through it.  I felt her love, just having her in my life.

“Mommy will be back soon.  And Daddy will bring me home, ok?”

Twice I had to be hospitalized, about one week each time, near the onset of chemotherapy.  The potion was too strong for me.  Every normal symptom became exaggerated several times over.  High fever added to the mix.  These overemphasized manifestations are what caused the exceptional hair loss.  The nurses took me to an isolation ward straightaway, until my vitals were back to normal, and I was hydrated enough to go home.


Another anniversary this week!  On September 28, I’ll have survived lucky year number 13 following my stomach cancer operation… feeling blessed!


Remember Me

Imagining what life would be like for my Isabella, if she lost her mother before the age of two, is abhorrent.  She wouldn’t have been the first child to lose a parent, but it’s painfully frightening to think I wouldn’t have been there to watch over her.  If I would not have survived, she wouldn’t even remember me today, just like she barely recalls my being sick at all.


When I felt better, I often thought about preparing a video for her, so she could have some memory of me.  I would also attempt to coach her through important issues of life – school and career, relationships, marriage and motherhood, having God in her life, self-respect, and family and friends.  I could never bring myself to do it.  The emotions began to surface just thinking about speaking to my daughter about important experiences that I wouldn’t be sharing with her.  It struck me that I was abandoning her – unintentionally, of course.

I had this feeling throughout my treatments.  My mother was taking care of Isabella – something I should have been doing.  We were side by side so much, but it was like I wasn’t there.  We could never do things together, because I was too tired and vomiting all day.  I wonder if that’s how she learned independence… or is it better explained that she has accepted loneliness and abandonment.

Remember that you can’t ever go back.  How do you change what you had no control over?  Even if our children didn’t know better, I wanted to give her every moment, each smile, and all the lessons a mother could offer her young child.

What I can give her today includes love, guidance, closeness, comprehension, and the opportunity to form that bond that felt broken during that crucial year of her life.