|Seder table from each end (Mom wouldn't|
like the beer bottle).
And when my mother was bedridden in the last months of life due to the havoc lung cancer was wreaking on her body, she still had her sense of humor, raising her thin arm and saying, "It looks like a baseball bat."
They seem to have bequeathed me this quality: People say they have never heard me complain about my health. I don't mean to suggest that I'm noble. I just never felt it was helpful.
But it has to come out somewhere.
Which brings me to my point from the seder we had one day early, almost a week ago already.
We figured that God would understand if we had it early due to people working and not living in the area. It was great to be together with family and extended family: twelve adults and two toddlers.
My sister does a beautiful job leading from an abbreviated family Haggadah. I read my father's favorite part, Psalm 114. A professor at heart, he loved pointing out the similies, metaphors, and other forms of speech. (The sea looked and fled/the Jordan turned back/for the mountains leaped like rams/the hills like lambs.)
|Nell and Spencer|
A team table-setting effort (because Katie couldn't come) produced a good result. While I cooked a chicken, Joe did the rest; Diane and David brought brisket and appetizers, and everyone else pitched in.
Thinking about our parents and looking at the photo of my smiling mother arranging flowers probably laid the groundwork for the meltdown that happened when everyone had gone.
They did a good job of cleaning up most of it. Joe and Carly, who had come early to help, stayed a little longer. Everyone had a reason for leaving when they did. I knew this rationally, but a lot of things piled up to lead me to focus on something that now sounds silly: the four heavy chairs that needed to go back to the attic and five that needed to go back to the kitchen from the dining room. Obviously the chairs going to the kitchen weren't a problem, but lugging the others up the narrow attic stairway didn't seem like the right job for me.
(Apt analysis or psychobabble: I get an immense amount of help and love and support that I truly appreciate, but I ultimately I have to do the heavy lifting alone.)
I started to wash the delicate crystal wine glasses. One broke in the sink. I thought I better lie down for a few minutes and BREATHE. But I popped back up and looked around at the wine glasses and the dishes and the sink and stove that needed cleaning...and at the chairs.
Then it was pity party time complete with tears. I sent a text to a group of four about the chairs, then cried on and off through the next day in conversations with the ones to whom I had sent it, feeling sorry thatI had brought it up in at all and realizing that if I had felt compelled to say something, I shouldn't have done it via text.
It wasn't just about the furniture or the phone.
It was about missing my parents on this special holiday, about visions of my mother setting the table "just so," about being alone for the shopping and the end of the cleanup, about the three new squamous cell cancers (three extra after the ones I previously wrote about), about the one on my calf that stings all the time while I wait for my Mohs appointment Monday, and the one on the top of my head that will probably lead to shaving, about the GVHD of the skin causing my abdomen to feel like it has a tire around it, about my previously nice and now frequently swollen hands, about all the doctors' appointments wearing me down and running back and forth to Boston driven by drivers who may or may not be sane.
Between tennis the next day and the Chipkin Family seder the next night, I began to calm down. And in another day I had pulled myself together.
Mostly I am sanguine. In fact, when people ask how cancer has changed me, I am likely to say it has made me funnier.
Sometimes you have to laugh.
But sometimes you have to cry.