So I have been going about my business pretty much like normal with the exception of a few extra naps during the day, which I usually try to time with Jackson’s naps, so not only do I get some much-needed snoozing, I also get some much-needed snuggling. See exhibit A below:
Today truly was a nearly perfect day, certainly not one where I felt like a cancer patient. We got up early and went and had breakfast with friends at Weaver Street Market (a neighborhood co-op that is only 1 mile down the road from our eventual new house whenever it’s ready), watched our kids crawling and playing, and then went over to Ed’s sister’s house (also about a mile from our new house) so Ed could help her move some big limbs.
Then we went home for lunch and then took Jackson and Bess to Fearrington Village across the way from my dad’s house, where we wandered the nature path down to the goat paddy and fed several brand-new baby goats some yummy grasses and clover, just like we’d done with Hudson almost three years ago exactly, when she was about 5 months old.
After a leisurely hike along the trail a ways, we went back to the Village and stopped for a beer (Ed), a bottle (Jackson), and a Coke float (me). The weather was perfect—75 degrees, sunny, just a touch of humidity, no real mosquitoes yet. It was almost perfect.
On our way out of the Village, a very kind older couple stopped us to coo over Jackson. The wife asked me how old he was, and I told her he would be one in just under two weeks.
“He’s ready for a little brother or sister!” her husband said jovially. His wife chided him a touch, knowing that this was a rather personal suggestion in any event, NOT knowing that he’d just dropped a giant emotional bomb.
“Yep! Yep!” I said, and beelined away from there as fast as I could. My mind was truly reeling. Was I really as upset as I thought I was? As it turned out, yes, yes, I was. I caught up to Ed, who’d dropped some things in the trash and blurted out what the elderly gentleman had said, and then punched my fist in the air as hard as I could and shouted, “YES! YES, HE IS!” realizing that part of me had actually wanted to punch that man in the face himself. And then I burst into tears.
In the span of a second after he said that Jackson was ready for a brother or sister, I thought, “HE ALREADY DOES HAVE A SISTER, GODDAMMIT! BUT HIS SISTER DIED, GODDAMMIT! AND I’M SUPPOSED TO BE PREGNANT RIGHT NOW, GODDAMMIT! BUT I HAVE CANCER, GODDAMMIT! SO JUST. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP!”
Of course, I didn’t really want to punch the man in the face, nor did I really want to scream obscenities at him. Well, I did and I didn’t. He had no idea that what he was saying was so totally loaded or that it would make me seethe and burst out crying. He had no idea that my nearly perfect day was so completely and totally imperfect for the very reason that Jackson has no brother or sister or even one on the way. He had no idea that tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, we have to honor the second anniversary of Jackson’s sister’s death. He had no idea that I am 36 years old and have cancer. He just had no idea about anything.
On the way home, I composed a status post for Facebook. It said:
Would not have expected to spend this day hiking with my boys, feeding honeysuckle to baby goats, and sipping on a Coke float in the sun. How grateful am I today?
I started to cry as I finished it, feeling so grateful to be able to feel grateful even on such a totally imperfect day. And just as I hit “post,” Sound Opinions on NPR, which had been doing a show called “Songs About Mom,” began playing “This Woman’s Work,” by Kate Bush. And I was just overcome.
Give me these moments back. Give them back to me.
Give me that little kiss. Give me your hand.
I know you have a little life in you yet. I know you have a lot of strength left.
Yes. Yes. Yes to all of that.