Friday, August 7, 2009

so many things...

I compose blog posts during the day, in my head. But I rarely write them.

Last Saturday, I whipped up a beauty about the ride Joel and I had on the Iron Cross course. It was a great ride (70+ mtb miles, 5+ hours), great weather, great company... And I remember having some terrific insights I thought worth writing down. But now I've forgotten.

Tuesday, I was going to write about the Tuesday Night Races, being tired, the art of the solo break, and a number of other things. But after the races I was so tired. The next day, busy.

Wednesday, I was going to write about this. And I was going to write about the trouble with using war metaphors when talking about cancer--words like "battle" and "fight." Because, in war, only death wins. And where does that leave the dead in the thoughts of the living?

Yesterday, I was going to write about my little miracle girl. Eight years-old yesterday. On her seventh birthday her oncologist told us it had better be some party. I liked that. Physicians are so obnoxiously dishonest when it comes to talking about how near death your children are. Until afterward. Then they seem to be more forthcoming, if not completely forthright. (Where do they learn this stuff, anyway? ...this inhuman distance from the painful emotional reality of life. Is it a symptom of having developed the medical gaze...the dishonesty their way shielding themselves from the pain? I guess we all have to cope.)

So this eighth birthday is something special too. Maybe more so. Her hair has grown back, wild and thick. She's grown fleshy (still an outlier as far as height and weight for her age, but proportional with a BMI in the 70th percentile). And, most significantly, has grown seven inches since transplant. Her endocrinologist, who hadn't seen her for 21 months, was in awe. (Again, an after-the-crisis display of honesty...admitting that when he saw her last he didn't expect her to grow again at all.)

Now, today, the post I wrote in my mind... Something about the ironies, paradoxes, and contradictions of parenthood. Something about the nature of joy/pain, which is to say the nature of life.

Yesterday's celebration ended abruptly around nine pm. Reuben was standing up, holding Audrey's hands. Then he dropped one hand and fell abruptly, awkwardly, twisting to the floor. It was a weird fall, but not that weird, for a baby. Babies fall all the time. But somehow this fall dislodged or jarred or otherwise upset his tumor (behind and under his right shoulder). It moved position. Bruised. Hardened.

And then there was screaming. For the next three hours. At least. Intermittent inconsolable screaming. Then some sleep. Then more screaming.

On and off again until four am, at which point I was supposed to drive to the airport to catch a flight to Chicago. Valerie didn't want me to go. She didn't want to tell me not to, but she didn't want me to go. I wasn't sure I'd be able to stay awake even for the drive to Harrisburg.

So now I'm laying on the couch, as tired as ever. The girls are playing a new computer game (Oregon Trail, a birthday present from someone who knows how much Marian loves all things pioneer). Valerie and Reuben are off to Hershey for X-rays and who knows what else. (It says something about the course of our lives that Val asked me to load a suitcase, still packed from the last hospital stay, "because who knows?") And I'm left to decide if it's worth it to try to get the airline to rebook my outgoing flight to Chicago.

And there's a cute little dog (stuffed toy) with a homemade leash tied to one leg of our piano.

And Audrey couldn't sleep last night blaming herself for Reuben's injury.

And she let me hold her as she cried herself to sleep.

And we've yet to figure out what happened to Reuben's shoulder.

And the sound of a screaming baby is the sound of my slowing going insane. It's quiet now, but the echos of insanity linger, softly reverberating inside my skull. It'll be a wonder if Val and I make it to 40.

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