Thursday, October 22, 2009

All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. - Julian of Norwich

I'm alone for the first time in a week. My kids contracted some variation of the flu - hippopotamus flu, I believe, and they have been too sick to go to school. Or anywhere, really - other than the 'FREE KIDS VIDEOS' section of Family Video. Today, Owen felt good enough and so we shipped him off to his favorite place.

Miss Ella has not recovered quite so quickly, as her ear, nose and throat regions are a little more connected than most people. Ear infections, allergies and getting a new bloody tooth cause the kid to get a sinus infection on the back end. Its always sick x 2 for her. Right now, she's napping on her IKEA princess bed, covered in all sorts of blankets, animals and snot. Maybe more snot than you've ever seen.

Owen turns 4 next Tuesday. He's been waiting all year- seriously. It was at 3+1 day he started saying "When is my birthday?" The kid is in love with presents. What can I say? He learned from the best.

The tentative plan is going birthday shopping in the morning, where he can pick out what he wants. As of this afternoon, it was a new skateboard, a flying remote control plane, clay and Spike the Dinosaur. Have you seen Spike at Target? He's like 3 feet tall and loud and he costs $150 bucks. Seriously? We'll head over to the Mandarin House for some Chinese, per Owen's request. Then, he wants to bring his class a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. Original glazed.

I was thinking back to his birthday last year when we did similar things: pick out lunch, pick out presents. We spent the night with our family at Grandma's house. She did her best to act and move as normal, although she'd spent the last week at the University of Chicago, getting poked and prodded. They tried several times to put stints in to her veins to block the blood clots from moving to places they shouldn't go. It worked, somewhat. She was so swollen with fluid before those days, looking like the Marshmallow Man.

When she finally lost all that water weight we saw how frail she had become. Some days I still have horrible visions of watching her die. In her last days, she looked yellow and her breathing was loud, as her lungs filled with fluid. Her organs were shutting down, one by one, and it was "just a matter of time." The kidneys no longer could filter, the heart beating slow, slow and slower. Those long pauses between what is left of life, making us wonder if it had been her last.

I'm feeling a little better about my lingering grief, as the monument was just put on her grave this last week. No matter how creepy I think cemetery's are, what was made is beautiful there. The dark marble was shipped from India and cut in to a bench enough for 2. The top is engraved with the last line of her dissertation. I know I would freak to see my name with a dash next to it, just waiting to put the date my journey ended. But, my Grandpa seems to take comfort in the fact that their bodies will be together always, as well as their souls someday.

I'd been avoiding the cemetery since the funeral, where I was able to "disassociate," laughing at all the off key singing. But, this past Sunday, Papa wanted to have some sort of "memorial service" and there was no getting out of it. On the 5 minute drive there, I was frantically looking for some old sunglasses to hide the tears that I knew were coming. I found some, although a little small and immature. I was sporting a pair of Cars sunglasses, with Lightening McQueen sitting on my temples. Owen saw my find and ordered I give them to him. I explained the situation and he showed no sympathy. Three minutes later, I could hardly breathe. Thankfully, the only witnesses were my parents and my children.

Owen, overcome with compassion for his mom, rolled his eyes and handed me the glasses. I quickly reminded Mr. Attitude who buys the presents around here.

I got all reflective that afternoon, trying hard to remember the details of the final years with her. The last time we went out together was some random weekday in mid-January. I called her and she didn't feel like doing much, understandably so as we were soon to find out the cancer had spread to her bones causing chronic pain. But, she agreed and the whole lot of us Liskeys picked her up and took her to Steak 'n Shake. She loved Steak n Shake because of the BLTs - always on whole wheat toast. After she found out she was as sick as she was, she started ordering Jr. milkshakes and french fries, too. Why not live it up?

On this particular day, she ordered a steakburger for the first time ever. It was the best burger she'd ever had and wished she'd ordered one sooner. She wondered if I'd take her to Meijer to get the socks she loved and a new purse. At first she wanted me to go in and do the shopping for her, but I convinced her to come in with us. We got those socks she wanted and I got a few things that we needed to. She started craving lemon donuts and sent me to fetch one for her and for us. Today more than ever, she walked slow and needed to push the cart to stay standing. I intentionally walked at a turtle's pace to keep her company, knowing we would both miss that too soon.

Purse shopping is never easy. Her default is black and Grandma wanted something new. We looked at what seemed like hundreds before she decided to settle for black, yet again. But, I saw a deep purple sporting a Nine West logo. I showed her and she decided it was time to break away from what was comfortable and get a damn purple purse. And so she did. And I made her promise she would leave it to me in her will.

She made it out again a few days later and called me when she got home to tell me that at church everyone loved her purple purse, as the color was rich like eggplant. Grandma wished she'd only discovered purple purses earlier.

I've often thought back on that day, where a woman who lived a full 70 years, who said she'd done everything she'd ever wanted to do, found 2 new things to love only 2 weeks before she died. And I wonder how many things I've been to scared to do, to try, to change only to find when it is too late that I could have lived richer, loved more experiences.

Which of course, makes me think of this most over-played video that I love. I can't get enough. It's like crack, or pure joy rushing through my veins and theirs. God, please help me remember these goofy-ass white people in the days ahead.