Tag Archives: cancer

For my mother, upon your death, a spark of dust


We are sitting here together in the peacefulness of your bedroom. A place you redesigned to include a beautiful bathroom, with a wide tub against a window, a warming towel rack – your dream respite. You did such a stunning job. I’ve always loved sitting in your bedroom, reading or talking to you. I am glad we are here now, together as you start your path to a different phase of life – that of death.

Mom, I hope that in your passing, I will be less afraid of death, as it, many times, colors my actions and anxieties. But this death, yours in this room, I want it to be a whispered song. I want you to listen  to the wind chimes outside of your window, the wind blowing through the trees in our backyard, and breathe in the solemnity of home you have created here.

For me, seeing you in our home brings me great comfort, knowing that you are safe and in the care of people who love you. Even though you have suffered through this terrible disease, we have helped determine how you will die. You will die in your own home, in your own bedroom, with your family and loved ones nearby. You will die without pain because of the medicines we give you. You will die having been able to say I love you to the ones you hold so dear, and hear them say it to you. We have been given a gift of that time – to say goodbye, to fill out hearts with each other.

I will miss you so desperately. I know my heart will break thinking about you not here. Even now, it grieves knowing the future.

I was talking to Dad a few days ago; he has been saying that cancer is the malady of all disease. I said that cancer reminded me of the Nothing. Do you remember that, from The NeverEnding Story? That is one of my favorite books. The Nothing eats away at everything around it. You put in a hand, and you lose it. A toe and it’s gone. The Nothing in the story is death. Everyone runs from it. Many are driven insane if they come too close. But the Nothing will be come for all of us, no matter what we do; disappearing our friends, our loved ones, our world. You have put in your uterus, your brain, your lungs, and your bones. The Nothing has touched each part to take it away from you, so that you may disappear entirely.

I have always loved stories, Mom. You helped me develop that. You let me read by the light of the bathroom when I was little. You gave me free reign of any book in the house or library. One of my most cherished memories of you is waking up and walking into your bedroom in the morning. I would find you propped up on several pillows, reading a book and drinking coffee. You particularly loved mysteries, and later, rather smutty vampire novels. You loved fantasy and science fiction, to be lost in another world.

About a month ago, you told me a story about how you had only gotten glasses when you were 8 years old. Until then, you were barely able to see. When you put on your glasses, you said you looked at grass with amazement. You were really able to see its lush green-ness for the first time, and marveled at how the blades were separated like little soldiers.

It flabbergasted me – to think that for the beginning part of your life, you had lived in a blinded state. This surprised me more because I knew how much you read as a child. I imagined you straining your eyes against weak lamplight to read your favorite books. It must have been such a comfort – to see another world so clearly when you could not see your own.

I don’t gravitate to the same genres you do. You know I love personal narrative and memoir – I love to read the stories of real people, and I love to write about my life and the people I experience. When I first started to write, and call myself a writer, I talked to you about it. I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure you’d understand. But you did, of course, because you are a lover of words like me. I told you I wanted to write a book, and you were so excited. I was surprised, but more by my own lack of foresight than anything. Of course you would love it if I wrote a book. My first real piece was published in a literary magazine – about you – and you kept it in your bedside table drawer. I knew you were moved and proud of my work.

I love these kinds of stories, Mom, because they help people come alive. I love that they help us with legacy, giving us the backbone of family gatherings; they help us remember each other and the bonds we share. They hold a way for us to look at our past reflectively. They help us carry on.

The NeverEnding Story is just that, Mom — it is a symbol of cyclical life. The Nothing is death, yes, but it is also a carrier of stories. Stories do not disappear into the Nothing – they are contained within it, and are recreated as something new yet familiar. Once the Nothing has swallowed all of Fantastica, Bastian is left with a single spark of dust. That is what you will become, Mom: a single spark of dust that is filled with possibilities. You’ll be fueled by our storytellings, our continued lives on this earth, our marriages to other loved ones, our births of new children, our dedication to the lives of those in pain or need. You will live on through those actions and words, helping shape our lives until we, too, are called into the Nothing, to be reborn into something more.

I love and miss you, with all my heart, with all my sparks of dust.


A translation of some cryptic tweets as an exercise in writing bullshit

I’m tired of writing about cancer. I know, it was only, like, two posts. But still– it was difficult. So what’s the opposite of cancer? Twitter (though maybe you disagree). Let’s just roll with it for now.

I think the next hip thing to do will be taking your parents out with you everywhere you go

Truffle oil. Skinny jeans. Butt shorts. Bacon in ice cream, waffles, footwear and Snocones. Things from Brooklyn. Ignoring that you’re in the second wave of gentrification by taking part in your neighborhood’s cultural street festivals.  I spend much time wondering, what will be the next new trend and how can I get ahead of the curve? I think the answer will sound a lot like  your mom saying you never call anymore.


also next big thing

I wish I had enough appts with my dentist to start a series called “conversations with my dentist” but at the same time, I’m glad I don’t

After I started my full-time job with a semi-comprehensive healthcare plan, I went to the dentist to catch up on 2 years worth of dental work. While my dentist was filling one of my 20 new cavities, he told me about living in Old Town, one of the originators of the gentrification movement in Chicago, and taking his kids to the park to play. He said there were always a group of young children running around being watched by a 14 year old girl. One day, a couple of younger boys from the group hopped over a fence to pull some air conditioning units down from a building window. My dentist said to the 14 year old girl, “Why don’t you stop them? You know better than that, you’re older than them.” And she said, “I tried to tell them but they won’t listen.” So he went over and told them to stop because it was dangerous and not their property. They hopped back over the fence, and one of the boys, probably around 8 years old, comes up to my dentist and says, “I don’t have to listen to you! I’m a GD!” while flashing a gang sign. My dentist looked at him and said, “I am so disappointed in you.” The young boy hung his head, ashamed, and walked away.

I don’t know about you, but I thought that was a bad ass story. Children still need parents, y’all. And I was like, damn, I really want to have more conversations with my dentist! But that would mean more days spent drooling  out the side of my mouth so…

spotify commerical “your fav band just announced a secret show, but you have a UTI” uh…what?

This was seriously a commercial on Spotify for urinary tract infection medication. It got me thinking of the demographic that really uses Spotify: slutties sequestered at home for the weekend drinking 10 gallons of cran listening to Tori Amos and Ani. Hello again 2000 and 1!

I am in a land where people give hugs for way too long

I performed at a festival that was a free event for families and apparently a major attraction for new-agey people who groove to free art. They were great, don’t get me wrong, but…the long hugs, guys. Really, really awkward, re: I do not want to exchange my energy with you so freely.  Please stick to a 3-second hug rule, and then move on to the plastic bags and painting-with-your-body exhibit with the child you are dragging by your boob.

You can’t bring your cats on your zombie escape plan D:

Dan has already concocted a zombie escape plan for us that I asked him to share after I  saw a zombie movie trailer and got the crap scared out of me. His escape plan only increased my anxiety when he informed me we couldn’t bring Rawr-Rawr and Shmeow-Shmeow in our bike panniers while we cycled out of the city on the Bloomingdale Line.  This is why I live in constant fear of a zombie outbreak.

reminiscing about that time in college when I ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s like I didn’t care about living another day


I recalled this memory while in the freezer aisle of some local grocery store. Why I go down those aisles is beyond me considering I can’t buy pretty much anything sold in them. But I came across BJs Chunky Monkey and thought of my college friend Jesse and how we visited the corner store at midnight with the sole intent of each eating a pint of ice cream while watching Friends re-runs in the dorm room common area. We did and it was glorious. I’m pretty sure we made out later too. That was also when I didn’t care about getting mouth herpes either.

That’s sure a snug fit

Dan and I were walking down State Street when a mother and young child walked past us. The mother had on a very tight, short, white dress which was perhaps not super appropriate for outerwear. This was a comment from the group of construction workers who also found her choice in apparel notable.

I’m sorry, but I seem to have run out of compassion today

I was in the midst of wedding planning and didn’t really care if anyone liked my invitations anymore.

what if, like, I needed therapy, but actually just signed up for singing lessons instead


I’ve been in therapy 5 times and recently ended the 5th therapist relationship back in February. It was totally amicable, but now I’m just considering other options for self-expression as it’s tiring to think of going back to therapy to work out the same issues of abuse, repressed anger and commitment problems that I haven’t somehow managed to completely resolve in the last, oh, FIFTEEN YEARS.  Perhaps some of you know what I mean? You just think, man, again? I have to talk about this again? Pass me an accompanist and some bawdy show tunes and let’s Streisand the shit out of that!

“I was in the middle of the best spin of my life!”

This just happened to me during an epic RV trip to Ann Arbor to watch the UM vs Notre Dame game. I know that sentence for many of you will be a major turn-off because you don’t like sports and didn’t think I did either. You’re mainly right though, don’t worry. I don’t like sports. I just like my alma matar kicking the shit out of an annoying team while pushing my body to the edge of it’s 31-year-old partying abilities (which are severely limited in normal life).

Besides that tangent- we stopped at Meijer at 2am (like ya do) and while there was a “striker” team assigned to get more booze and pickle juice, the rest of us tossed the frisbee in the parking lot. Or actually, I talked to my friend Shannon about this black-tie party she went to in Brooklyn. I then pretended to rip off non-existent snap-pants to reveal a non-existent ball gown, which I imagined I’d be wearing at a black-tie event, and started to spin around only to get immediately clobbered by a debilitating frisbee blow to the shin. Upon falling to the ground, I screamed, “I was in the middle of the best spin of my life!” which, despite growing up a child of old-school Disney princesses, I believe to be true. frisbee

what a pleasant surprise

This was what an ex-boyfriend of mine said to me the day we saw each other for the first time after I’d gotten engaged to Dan. It was super awkward because we hadn’t seen each other in about a year and we were at a work function where you can’t act like an asshole– though I wouldn’t say that seeing me was truly a pleasant surprise for him. More like, what a pleasant surprise (you bitch).

sitting on the couch, practicing not being a bitch.

Speaking of being a bitch, this is what I was thinking when Dan didn’t take out the trash or some shit I’m supposed to be upset about as his dutiful wife. Fortunately for all of us, I did successfully repress the urge to fly into a domestic rage.

I’m going to seriously pretend this dude is not watching porn next to me at Caribou Coffee.

I did not succeed, and the event was even more traumatizing because I was unable to finish my foamy latte.


Note: that porno did not contain a buttplug, but this post does contain a Twitter plug, so follow me bitchez: tactlessgrace