In an update to this post, and then this one, and finally this one, CJ has gone to live with some friends in Glasgow. She is not hunting rabbits in the country. She’s in Glasgow. I know and trust the people she’s with. I am now the cat’s Auntie.
Dad delivered her on Saturday, taking along her favourite blanket. I was not upset when she left, as I’d said goodbye many times before the day arrived. It was hard to believe she was actually gone. We opened all the doors and windows. Because we could.
The flat seemed bigger. And empty. So we put our sunglasses on and left. Pulled out of our funk by friends and food and beer.
I felt fragile, but happy, too. Happy that she got such a sunny day for her new start. That she was on her way to cuddles from non-allergic people. I was also happy that I would no longer be confronted with Sarge’s actually bloody nose. Although, after this morning when I blew my own nose too hard, and showed him, I can no longer complain.
‘Should I be worried?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘It’s just sympathy snot.’
Last night, I reclaimed my reading chair. The one that CJ used to sleep on. I felt slightly guilty, but I read half a book. My windows are open, people can come in the front door without playing defence first. We called it Catch the Cat.
I don’t have to feel bad about keeping CJ out of the bedroom. And even worse when she zoomed in anyway. I don’t have to wave smelly packets of food to coax her out again. I can have cheesecake for breakfast, because she isn’t here with the disdainful cat-face that said, ‘Don’t you have a wedding dress to fit into?’
My mother asked me if I missed CJ. I do, but I love living in peace and fresh air with Sarge, his nose and our books.
Last Saturday, Sarge and I got up early to see our wedding venue decked out for a wedding. The sun was out and I could picture next year, our people in that room. ‘And we’ll announce you from here,’ said the events planner person. And I cried.
We headed toward breakfast and I wondered again why I order pancakes anywhere that isn’t my Dad’s house. Sarge finished them off for me, and I made him shoot some cherry blossoms on the way to a coffee-shop, where I drank coffee, read David Sedaris and eavesdropped on some tourists. I couldn’t help it. They were loud.
We went home and had dumplings while watching Manhattan. Life is good. I said so on Facebook.
Dad and Anne picked us up on Sunday and we went to the bridal shop so I could pet my dress. It was hidden in the back of the car before Sarge came out of hiding.
We take them back to the venue; Dad sits at the top of the room. Has a moment. ‘Well done,’ he says. ‘It’ll be a beautiful day.’
We have a late lunch, and are the last to leave the cafe.
‘Want to come up for coffee? We can kill some zombies for you.’
I expect Dad to say no, but we all troop up to the flat. This is Interesting, because they usually just go home.
Dad is on the couch, Anne is next to him. I’m parked in front of the books, Sarge next to me. ‘I have some news,’ Dad says in his This Is Interesting/Sit Down voice.
‘What?’ I actually gripped the frame of my chair.
‘What?,’ I say.
‘I’ll definitely fit into my kilt for the wedding, that’s the good news.’
He explained how he’d had a sore throat and then there was a lump. And he’d gone to the doctor and had to wait for results and I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense because all I heard was cancer.
And then Dad said, ‘Please don’t break because if you do, I will.’
Anne is saying he’ll be alright and Sarge is trying to hold me and forgive me but I’m pushing him away, because I’m trying to focus on what Dad’s saying. Because it doesn’t make sense.
‘Once they get it it’s gone, and it isn’t going anywhere else, and if you moved up the wedding I wouldn’t enjoy it, so next year is fine, better even,’ he said. ‘I want four whole hours for my speech at the wedding and I’d like to name all my Grandchildren, thank you.’
He’ll have to shave his beard and he’s on morphine with more energy than ever because his chronic back pain is gone. His diabetes and hypertension will go away. ‘Maybe this is my next lesson,’ he said. ‘This’ll mean I’m healthier in the long run. It’ll give me my life back. Chemo is my liposuction.’
‘It’s a pain in the ass way to do it, though.’ I said.
‘Actually it’s a pain in the neck, sweetie.’ He hugged me. And then I broke.
After they left, Sarge asked how I was doing. ‘I can’t feel anything from my heart to my toes,’ I sad.
I get up the next day. And I’m surprised the world is still happening. I stay off the computer in order to avoid Google. I try to write in a journal Dad gave me. But there are no words. If I had any, I would say that I know cancer is treatable, or else there wouldn’t be treatment. After the treatment, people get better. People laugh and go to weddings and have Grandchildren.
People get through it. But this is my father, my best friend. He has to go through this. My Dad will get better. We just have to get there.
On Thursday, I went to the cancer centre and met one of his nurses. The place was nicer than at least one of the wedding venues Sarge and I looked at. I asked questions and cried and hugged a stranger. But she isn’t, really. She’s one of the people looking after Dad, and that makes her awesome.
And because I’m me, I got stuck in the bathroom. To make it homey, they put a rug in there. It got caught in the wheels and came with me through the door, along with a basket of towels and a small table.
I backed out of the room. ‘Hey you guys, I’m stuck.’ Sarge reached me first, and then laughed and said to Dad, ‘oh, you gotta see this.’
My Dad’s laugh is the same as always.
He’ll be in remission by October which also marks three years of me and Sarge. Stellar month. We’ll get there.
I spent much of my first year at University pulling all-nighters with my friends. We would raid the vending machine down the hall, try to stuff each other into the washing-machines and make plans to go bungee-jumping. I also had them draw me a hideously clichéd tattoo. Of course.
Some more time was spent figuring out how I might get inked without actually climbing the walls. The Plan involved getting drunk and stoned. What was the plan?
Anyway, my point is this. You can say I’m grateful for my heightened fright reflex. It has kept me from hideously clichéd, teenaged tattoos that seemed like ‘an amazing idea’ at the time.
I’d like to think my taste has changed. I used to be attracted to men who said ‘the sky’ when I said ‘what’s up?’ I thought they were sages. I’ve learned they were assholes. My point is, I’ve matured.
And so has my idea for a tattoo. For years, I’ve been thinking of getting a WWMD? on my wrist. Not for Marilyn. For Madelyn and Molly, my Grandmothers. And for me.
They were both Big Deals in my life, and their earthly absence has changed who I am and how I do things.
Every decision I’ve made, I’ve wondered what they think.
Don’t quit school, you’ll see. Thank God, he’s gone. He couldn’t even use a fork. Use a fork! We like that one, he’s the one. But I’m not sure about the cheese thing. Oh, go on. And always choose to dance.
I sit in front of Madelyn’s picture and ask her to guide me. To be with me. I have Pizzaiola for my birthday, but it’s never as good as Molly used to make.
I wish every day that all four of my Grandparents knew Sarge. They’d love him. A little weird, but so are you, they’d say. And so, good for them, they’d say.
I’m loving this wedding-planning thing. Really, I am. But every decision Sarge and I make is something else my Grandparents can’t share. And that’s hard for me. Really, it is.
When I chose a dress, I asked Dad, ‘Would Grandma like it?’
‘What would Nana think?’ I asked Mom on the phone. ‘Have you considered beading?’ she asked.
See, I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was six, but I always thought Madelyn and Chuck and Molly and Pete would be there. I made them promise.
I know that they held on as long as they could, that incomprehensible things made those pinky swears impossible to honour.
But the kid in me, the Granddaughter who lived to make each of them smile in their own ways, wants to cry: but you promised!
When I was a kid, I ploughed into them after playing Munckin Number 3 in the Wizard of Oz and then again after various talent shows. How’d I do? How’d I do?
I’d like to think, on my wedding day, sitting there with my husband, they’ll say: You did good, Lorna. You two keep dancing. We’ll be here. Now, about that tattoo…
Yesterday was spent trading notes with Sarge to save his hay-fevered voice. When was the last time you wrote a love note or letter?
Somewhere between note 1 and 17, I finished reading my 20th book of the year.
Recent reads have been:
The Marriage Plot – Read this in three days. The first two I was right there with it. Yesterday, not so much. I was just happy to read complex sentences again.
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) – I read this because I have a not-so-new obsession with talked-about books. I found myself counting the times Ana mentioned her inner goddess. And then I lost it. Perhaps the best thing about reading this was appreciating Ellen’s video.
The Bees – Read this aloud, to myself. In my living-room. In honour of (inter)National (kinda) Poetry Month. And to drown out the not-so dulcet tones of my upstairs neighbour. The one who is constantly on the phone. At that infuriating level that’s loud enough to be annoying, but too muffled to be useful in my writing. Except to say it’s worse than a slow, tapping leak.
The Freedom Writers Diary – I got this because of my not-so recent obsession books on writing/books that encourage writing/books made into films. And because I was looking for something else and found this on the way. And then realised it was a book I’d wanted to read for a long time. Everybody wins.
I am on wheels. Everyone should know this by now. Regular readers, anyone who reads my About page, people I’ve worked with, laughed with, gotten lost with, my parents and the man who loves me. That’s everyone.
What people may not know is this: I am totally OK with it. My CP means that I will never run a marathon. I may drive one, though. It means I don’t go to the gym. I probably should, but I don’t have to. I can do laps around my house, or push my myself uphill. Or over cobbles.
I’m never going to walk down the aisle, but I may get funky new wheels for the occasion. I don’t care how I get there, I’m more about the the man at the end, and the people there with us.
Yes, CP sometimes sucks. So do taxes. Taxes are worse.