I realize I haven’t been updating Space-Lift as often as usual, and it actually has been weighing on my mind. I’ve been slightly preoccupied and in a little bit of a funk regarding the woman who taught me everything I know. I was surprised to find out that she isn’t doing so well. I say “surprised” because I honestly didn’t know what was happening to her. I just assumed she would get better. My mother would keep me updated with the fact that she has started Chemo or finished radiation, but she never mentioned how it was actually impacting my aunt. And I suppose it’s my fault too; I didn’t ask. I didn’t call. I didn’t visit. In my mind, I was staying out of the way. I only hope in her mind she didn’t see it as abandonment.
She had other wonderful girls in the family helping her, staying on top of her medication and treatment schedule, making her food and being there. I kept thinking I would visit after her operation, then I thought I’d visit after radiation finished, then I decided to wait until after Chemo. I just kept thinking my presence would only be a nuisance. With all of these “good intentions gone wrong,” it’s turned out that I hadn’t seen her from December 26th, 2011 to April 5th, 2012. That’s over 3 months! I just kept thinking, “As soon as all this mess is out of the way, I will talk to her. I’ll tell her how worried I’ve been. I’ll tell her that I’m so glad she is better.” But the thought never crossed my mind that it’s possible that I could be waiting for over a year for her to get better, or it may not happen.
I’m not giving up yet though, but I need to be realistic about it because I’ve been in denial for a while. My uncle had a brain tumor 15 years ago. He had an operation. He healed. No chemo, no radiation. That’s been my one and only casual relationship with cancer. I was so lucky that time, but I’ve been naive to believe that is the normal progression of this illness, because I’m beginning to understand that it can be very messy. That’s not to say she is mentally out of it and there’s no sign of her coming back; that absolutely is not the case. She does sleep a lot and her medication makes her delirious at times, when she’s awake she is lethargic and detached, but when she opens that damn mouth of hers I know she is still in there. From telling my uncle she’ll cut off his feet if he doesn’t stop squeaking his shoes to insisting that room service bring her more jello so my Olivia can eat some too; she is still there.
This became blatantly apparent to me one day when I was with her alone. Nothing great was on T.V. in the middle of the day so I defaulted to HGTV. We started talking a little about the show “Income Property,” and gradually made small talk about renovation. She didn’t talk about it the way she usually does. She made broad statements that any novice would make, but I kept talking because it’s the first time I’ve been able to segue into describing my house to her (which she, regretfully, has never seen.) Then I start talking about all of the furniture she gave me. I told her that I wanted to start on the round glass top table, but I don’t know what direction to take it so I’ve just let it be. She lit up, and for the first time I heard her say something with conviction, “That’s just what you need to do. If you don’t know, don’t touch it. You’re just going to mess it up and make it worse.” Then I told her about the Handy Man’s bed that she gave me, and how that is the project I really have a vision for, but it’s such a huge undertaking that I want to let it simmer. She was so happy to hear that I love that bed as much as she did. She could recall every place that needs wood glue and kept insisting that I use glue and not nails (yes, she still thinks I’m 15 at times.) I told her about the dense cushion I wanted to use and my ideas for it’s function and I could see the look on her face that she use to get when we would think of decorating a room. She would look past me at a non-existant point in the distance and purse her lips. She use to do it with a cigarette in her hand, but the hospital frowns on that.
I can’t say what the outcome will be. All I know is as long as I can still access the woman with the countless ideas, then there is still hope.