This weekend has been so sweet. Maybe someday I’ll be able to write about all of the silly, ridiculous, frustrating, joyful, strange, goofy (all so precious) moments that have happened in the past 3 days, but for now my dad and my sister and I must hold them close, protect them, cherish them. We’ve held our breath for days, on the edge of hilarity. She’s been so animated, so herself. Even though her aphasia has gotten extreme (a lot of the words she says aren’t at all what she means), every now and then there will be a second of pure perfection. On Saturday, as she dozed and I wrote, I heard her say “Don’t you doubt for a second–you have given me a lifetime contained.” Later that night she declared Sarah James and I the wardens of her heart. “You guard it,” she said. Even in the in-between times, when it seems like she isn’t quite sure where or when she is, she’s still all Cynthia: impatient, stubborn, captivating.
Yesterday she and Sarah James lounged in bed while I sorted through a dresser drawer stuffed with papers. We giggled for hours over her C’s in Bowling and Social Dance freshman year of college (a small stain on an otherwise impeccable transcript), passive aggressive notes from mine and SJ’s childhood (a list in my handwriting includes ‘LEAVE SJ ALONE’ as both a chore and a goal, a list in hers states ‘she won’t leave me alone’ as one of the many reasons I annoy her), a tiny faded photo of her and dad laughing poolside in the early years of their marriage–all tucked in amongst paperwork and Target receipts. I could spend years combing through this house and continue to be delighted by the riches sheltered inside.
On Saturday night, when transferring her from her wheelchair into bed, she complained of pain on her right side, above her ribcage. The area is swollen, and very tender–likely caused by inflammation in the liver due to the spread of the cancer. This morning she woke screaming at 7 am, in excruciating pain in both her head and chest. We got it under control and she slept most of the morning. When she woke on Friday, she looked at me and said, “I think I’m going to beat this,” and my dad, my sister, and I have been living in that suspended moment ever since. I’ll be honest with you all: I’m trying so desperately not to be angry, to instead be thankful for this borrowed time, but sometimes it seems impossible. My dad told me that it’s hard to understand why we can’t just keep her, and I agree. She’s ours. She belongs to us (and we thank you for understanding our need to be selfish with her time). She’s worried a few times that we’ll get bored of this, conscious of our needs even now that hers surpass them, but my breath catches every time she smiles. I found this passage in with all the rest of the treasures–
Don’t you kids know,
That life is made up of ordinary days
When there is no one to pat you on the back?
When there is no one to praise you?
When there is no one to honor you?
When there is no one to see how brave and noble you are?
Almost all of life is made of these ordinary days.
And it is how you live your ordinary days
That determines whether or not you have big moments.
Get out there and make something of your ordinary days.
You have many ordinary days behind you,
Most of which were filled with sweat and work.
And you have also had some big moments
That were a result of the ordinary days.
But there is a big moment that has not
been realized for quite some time.
It is time for that moment!
– Ann Kiemel Anderson “I’m Out To Change My World”
–we want to stay grounded in these ordinary days, as much as possible, for as long as possible.