Wednesday, August 22, 2007

From the Mouths of Stuffed Animals

When my mom was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, the hardest moment for me was explaining to Dear Daughter that her beloved grandmother was sick. She's only known one set of grandparents in her life, and spent a great deal of time with them while I was finishing my degree. Plus, for all of our dysfunctionality, we are a curiously close bunch, so she's grown up knowing and loving them well.

Naturally, she was struck pretty hard by the news of her grandmother's serious illness. One day while we were driving along, she made the astute observation that " person gets sick, but the whole family gets cancer." Considering she was only nine at the time, I was blown away by how precisely she summed up our situation at the time.

Monday night I had to explain to her about mom's brain tumors. Needless to say, she was not happy to hear any of it. Huddled under her favorite purple throw with the Bratz dolls printed all over it, she ordered me to leave my own room and don't come back for a while. Ordinarily, I don't take quite as much guff from someone to whom I gave a nine-month ride, but this was an extenuating circumstances. I did leave the room, but came back quickly bringing someone I knew she could talk things through with.

I tossed him under the blanket and ran, knowing I was in for it. A few minutes later, I heard doors slamming and figured she was working things out. Later on, she came out, Bunny in tow and announced she'd been sitting in a closet with a flashlight and Bunny talking it out.

"Human lives are really complicated," she told me he said. As an involved observer of the human condition for nearly 12 years now, this dear, dilapidated philosopher summed up succinctly our position today in the vast web of the universe. Mom still has swelling in her brain, at least one tumor, is taking steroids and Ativan and is having nicotine withdrawal fits. She's not exactly fun to be with right now, right at a time when we all need each other the most. I'm taking my cues from Bunny, and remaining silent as much as possible. I can only hope that when I do speak, I can be as sagacious as he is.

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