My thoughts

… are kind of all over the place these days.   First of all the job. Yeah.  I may have made a mistake.  Probably should have let the dust settle a little bit.  I applied for this job exactly 3 weeks after my husband died. What the hell was I thinking?  I guess I panicked a little regarding finances, insurance, etc.  So.. here I am at 51 years old with 30 years experience working an entry level job for the insurance.  Don’t get me wrong.. the job is okay.. nothing terribly interesting, but busy and I like that. Love my coworkers.  The trouble you ask?  Somewhere along the way, during the shit storm what was my life over the past two years, I seem to have lost my filter.  Replacing it is on my short list (as in nevah gonna happen in this lifetime).  I simply don’t care what I say and to whom.   I just don’t. I don’t go out of my way to offend, but if you choose to be offended by something I say? Tuff shit. You can imagine how well that goes over in the work place.   One of my coworkers thought I was a bit on the prissy side until I let loose with a string of expletives. She was relieved.  It’s the hair. Fools em every time.

On  the home front. Ever wish you could have one more conversation with a loved one that had passed on?  Do you imagine it in your mind?  I have these little one sided conversations all the time with my sister and my husband (not out loud, I haven’t turned the bend completely).  They are usually mundane, every day things… nothing maudlin or sweetly out of character.  Today I wish I could ask my beloved why he kept certain items.  Like the princess tiara and the duck lips that sound like a kazoo. Yes. I tried them. Don’t judge me.  It’s been a stressful week. I think I will wear them to work tomorrow. The lips, not the tiara.  I’m saving that for special.

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I had to give myself a time out today.

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I was in the office with my two coworkers.  One of them had the misfortune of recounting this “really cute” skit she saw from a hospital regarding breast cancer awareness where the docs were wearing pink gloves and dancing around.  I said “You do know that pink is a color not a fucking cure for cancer, right?”   I immediately felt bad but that didn’t stop me from going on about “fun” facebook games and Image  I could feel myself getting wound up and seized on a cartful of charts that had to be put away in a distant room.  While I was down there in my self-imposed exile I was mentally lecturing myself.  I told myself that just because I had breast cancer that didn’t give me the right to behave badly.  Then I wondered what did give me that right?  Image Surely I’ve earned a pass, haven’t I?   Losing my sister while undergoing my battle with cancer.  Losing my husband just when life was getting good again after cancer and the loss of my only sibling.  Having my whole life upended. Being alone in a house where there was once a family. I could go on and on, but why bother? It is what it is.  I feel like I’ve been pretty much numb emotionally since November of 2011 and I’m starting to thaw out a bit.  And I’m more than just a little pissed off.  Pissed off that the 30% of breast cancer patients who are stage 4 (if you don’t know about cancer staging or metastasis and don’t want to leave the pink haze to google I’ll just say there is no stage 5 and leave it at that) get one day ONE during this whole pepto bismol drenched month of “awareness”.  Why?  Because it’s kind of hard to sexualize a dying woman.  They’ve passed the stage of saving the ta-ta’s. They just want to fucking live.

I’m pissed off about a lot of other shit, too but this will do. For now.

Cancer Is Not Cute, or Why Pinktober Makes Me Queasy

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Telling Knots

Pink-to-ber A portmanteau coinage used by many people who live with breast cancer to refer to October, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is heavily dominated by marketing in the color pink and cute tags like “Save the tatas”. (See Komen, etc.)

(The following post appeared in a slightly different form on April 6, 2013.)

 Cancer isn’t cute. It is a mortal illness. It disfigures. It kills. The treatment involves cutting off pieces of your body, killing living tissue with radiation, poisoning your system with chemotherapy. The treatment can have life-long effects on your health and well-being   And that is still no guarantee. Thirty percent (almost one third!) of women diagnosed with breast cancer AT ANY STAGE will end up with distal metastasis.

To be clear, distal metastasis means Stage IV breast cancer. Stage IV breast cancer is terminal cancer.

Cancer isn’t cute, and breast cancer isn’t “the good…

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‘In the Event of my Death…’

Reblogging this because it’s an important topic for all couples, regardless of your age, state of health, whether or not you have children. We had those conversations, mainly because of the sudden death of my sister and my cancer diagnosis. He, of course, was going to live forever. Being eleven years younger I always had a sense I would be widowed at some point until the events of 2012, which seemed to level the playing field a bit. And to Wife After Death, ask yourself what you would want for him, had you gone first. xxoo

Wife After Death

If you are lucky enough to still have your spouse intact, I have a question.

Do you ever discuss, you know, the D word? Is ‘death’ part of your warm, couply vocabulary, or is it one of those subjects like exes and the fact that it took him SO FUCKING LONG to propose that is never broached?

Even after He was critically ill, and the click-whoosh of His mechanical heart valve kept me awake at night, my husband and I never discussed what would happen in the event of the other’s death. It was taboo, I guess because it had almost been reality and neither of us wanted to think about the what ifs.

Besides, that Registrar in the hospital, the little fella with whom I high-fived like a fucking cheerleader when I saw him months later in the heart clinic, stated quite clearly that Mark ‘would have a normal life span’…

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Christmas in July (August..whatever)

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Going through one of the many collections that have taken up space in my life and cupboards for nearly 30 years I decided to display the shot glasses on a little shelf.  I was washing them and reminiscing about where we purchased them. Some were gifts so I get to live those memories of trips to Paris and many tropical islands vicariously.   The best ones were the ones we bought on our own trips. New York, Boston, New Orleans, Texas, Florida. A few from his single days. Then there were the ones from Santa’s Village and Storyland.  Really? We bought shot glasses on these family trips?  I don’t recall doing that. I do recall wanting to drink. Badly.  For those of you who don’t live in New England, Storyland and Santa’s Village are in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire located conveniently near each other. So near that after spending an entire day trudging through one, the little cherubs are sure to spot the one you didn’t visit.  Parents, you know how that goes.   We are approximately 3 hours away.  Most people would spend the night. Maybe do one park each day over a weekend. Not Mr. Frugal. He liked making it a day trip. We would leave the house at 6 or 7 a.m.,  my sister and her family coming along in their own car, drive for three hours, stop a few times to pee, eat, pee, puke (not me.. Thing 3). Finally we would arrive.  Complain about the gate fees, take a few forced family photos (one of them of my nephew even made it into the book Awkward Family Photos  – true story), walk until our feet were bleeding, buy over priced toys and souvenirs (I bet those shot glasses were not cheap!).   Storyland was just what you would imagine.  Like speed reading a children’s book on acid.  Santa’s Village (where we invariably visited on a day when it was 90 degrees with 100% humidity) had many of the same rides but with a Christmas theme, a fully suited Santa (he had to have a fan in his pants.. I don’t know how he survived otherwise), singing elves, mangy reindeer.  All the stuff of great childhood memories.   After a full day, we would pile the sweaty, tired kids into the car and reverse direction.. puke, pee, eat, pee.

So yeah, buying the shot glasses.. no memory at all. Wanting a drink (or three).. like it was yesterday!

If I had it do to all over again I would in a heart beat and I can’t wait to take my grandchildren. 🙂

Here’s the little prince  in the picture that made him famous. In my family alone we have about a dozen copies of this book.

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I’m sure he was just mad because we made him let the little one drive. She looks like she’s having fun, but she was probably talking smack every time they were out of earshot,.

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Adventures in banking

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My husband loved to play bank.  His favorite game was getting services and not paying any fees.  Consequently this involved moving our money frequently, sometimes as often as several times in one year.  When I questioned the wisdom of doing this I was told “it’s all here in the notebook”.   This was a battle I wasn’t going to win and he was extremely careful with money, so I let him have his fun. Mistake number one. After 30 years together no one should be having fun.  Especially when it involves computers,  cash and secret  extremely creative passwords.

I have been spending my time cheerfully contacting banks, both local and afar, armed with account numbers, user names and passwords, his social, my social, my blood type and the secret family recipe for tourtiere pie. My list of where we don’t have money has far exceeded my list of where we do and I am painstakingly crossing off each institution.  Having narrowed it down I have either sent a copy of the death certificate with my written instructions on what I want done with the account or, in the case of local banks, taken care of it in person.  Each time the account was closed, within a week there has been a letter addressed to him informing him that someone (I would assume they mean me.. the co-owner of the accounts, wife, widow, holder of the paperwork confirming he is no longer making banking decisions) has closed his account.  He is to contact them immediately if those were not his wishes.  Can I get a big round of what the fuck?  Seriously.

 

Don’t ask

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Oh, I don’t mean you. You can ask me anything.  Don’t Ask is the red banner I imagine has been placed prominently across my medical file and/or employment files at my local hospital.  I had my 6 month check with Oncology yesterday and all is well on the cancer front, though apparently I am working on an ulcer. Maybe.  Or more likely my body is just reacting to the absolute clusterfuck my life has been for the past 18 months or so.   While discussing the possible causes of the stomach pain I’ve been having (yes.. I “went there” and anyone with a past diagnosis of cancer knows exactly where “there” is) and how I’m not sleeping much these days, I mentioned my husband had recently passed away.  It was exactly a year ago since she asked how my summer was going and I reported that my sister had just unexpectedly passed away.   Her face.  I almost felt sorry for her.    I was told I am doing “remarkably well” whatever that means.  Am I supposed to open a vein every time I tell someone new?  Wear widow’s weeds?  Image

As I was leaving she mentioned again how remarkably well I seem.  I told her I had no choice and she said “you can always crumble”.  I told her “not yet”.  Besides I got shit to do. I’ll schedule a break down for another time, thank you.

Last week I had a job interview.  The first step was a telephone interview with all of those ridiculous getting to know you questions.  Then I got to do it again face to face.  Things were going well until the interviewer asked “what is the biggest personal challenge you have had to face in the past year and how did you handle it?”  So, I told her.  Tissues all around.  This could go either way.. a pity hire or a big red banner across my file that says. Don’t Ask!   I’m okay with either.

I used the kitty graphic because those crazy eyes are exactly how I feel these days but the graphic below speaks to me.  I hope it speaks to you too.

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Wait. I’m supposed to know this shit?

I have been looking at my husband’s pickup truck sitting in it’s usual spot, unmoved for 6 weeks now.  I can’t drive it. I don’t want to drive it. It’s doing no one any good just sitting there and I said from the start I wanted to sell it.  But I kept putting it off. Today I grabbed my camera and the keys, gathered all the information I needed and placed an ad on craigslist.  I was very thorough, mentioning the mileage, work it needed, any features I could think of and within minutes I got an actual inquiry in my inbox.  “What is the engine”? Engine? I’m pretty sure it has one. I don’t want to look.  What if I find a large hamster wheel under the hood?   I’m not ready to deal with all of this. Shit.

 

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Road trip

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My youngest daughter (sometimes known in my on line circles as Thing 3) and I took a trip   to visit my older daughter (Thing 2). We had plans to see She and Him in concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.  My husband had bought these tickets shortly before he passed away. The girls and I love the band.  He wasn’t a huge fan, but just loved music of any kind (except country!) and spending time with his kids.  The girls and I had a nice time.  We rode the T and did a lot of walking and entertained each other with memories of his running commentaries during such excursions. He was a big guy with a lot of aches and pains. His complaints were legitimate but his delivery was so funny that it was hard to take him seriously.   One year he and I went down for the 4th and walked around for hours with Thing 2 and her roommate.  We all had sore feet but he had “no ankles and no ass” after walking for miles and then sitting on a concrete curb for hours waiting for the fireworks.

When we arrived for the concert we were approached by a young lady who works for Live Nation.  She was very engaging and friendly and we were laughing and having a nice chat. Out of the blue she asked “Where’s the mister”?  The girls and I just looked at each other and finally she said.. “Oh, I guess it’s not his thing”.   Why would anyone ask one woman in a  group of three where her husband is?  I bet I could have ruined her night with an honest answer.

The concert was great.  Camera Obscura opened.  I had never heard them.  She and Him played all of my favorites and did an a capella version of  Unchained Melody.  It was amazing.   I had a few weepy moments.  He would have loved the concert, the time with the girls, all of it.   Having to take 2 buses and 2 trains to go a few miles, not so much. However, he probably would have contributed some real gems to the family quote book.