On Friday I'm piling with friends into a gold Odyssey headed for a yarn shop. We are going to knit hats. On our way, one friend's not sure about schools and kindergarten. She is like all of us, thinking about the next step we will all be facing, thinking about change.
My mom has cancer and I should be talking about it, should be filling the Odyssey's walls with what's on my mind, but I sit silent in the back seat.
My mom is strong, wearing a parachute and sailing more determined through the experience. She sends e-mails that say, "Let's get this party started." The party she is referring to is her lumpectomy, scheduled next week. She wears her mom's fur coat to work, and the scarf I made her. She says she thinks people will figure she's gone mad. I say wear that coat in surgery if you are able. Whatever you need to do to keep that strength pumping through your veins. Whatever armor you need to fight this battle set before you.
It is Saturday. The weather is terrible. My husband goes running. When he sees me at the window cautious steps turn into Olympic style skating strides. We were supposed to visit my mom but we can't. I would have been a wreck in the passenger's seat with the ice. Still....it snowed fat snowflakes and she walked in them alone.
Sunday I'm grouchy and weepy. I searched for my armor in minivans but was afraid to ask. While my husband gave me hugs, true and strong, and my children handed me tissues, I feel like I'm getting closer.
It's Monday, again. There is no preschool. I am glad to be home without an agenda. The kids dance to their Music Together CD, jumping on the bed and getting sweaty. I get sweaty cleaning the house from top to bottom, putting the bath toys through the dishwasher for their second time in existence, and running on the treadmill.
On Tuesday she has her lumpectomy. It snows. I go about my day, pray as I drive, asking for the things I can't ask for from friends. A trip to the library turns ugly when one child darts and the other hits but we try it again and it goes okay, new books a welcome distraction. I call my brother to see if he knows anything. He knows that my mom's co-workers decorated the entry way to the house with hearts, fifty hearts, he thinks, and words to live by. This makes me whimper my words. People can be so kind. Later at Mind Your Manners Julia learns how to answer the phone. She loves the class because it always ends with chocolate cookies that frame her mouth. Her small sister perches on a stool and colors in her color wonder book. The table totters while I share conversation with a fellow preschool mom. We were both born on the same day in the same year. She put her kids in the manners class, too. She can't imagine anything bad happening to her mom, either. She nearly wells up imagining the feeling of waiting to hear the news about a lumpectomy.
Finally, finally, I talk to my mom, who has been through major surgery, whose boob hurts, but who is suddenly cancer free. It was only the tiny half a grain of rice sized tumor, she says. Only one duct had IT. I don't cry. My kids sing content in the backseat. Praise the lord for Music Together and surgeons who take away the ugly stuff so that no armor is needed after all, for now.
It's Tuesday, and I breathe normally again. I take my kids from the car patiently, feed them, spend some extra time reading before I tuck them in snugly.
She is going to be okay.