Their Last Anniversary Dinner
Today was the day. It was their last anniversary… #15. I did the grocery shopping last night and spent most of the time walking through the aisles of Publix in more of zombie mode, just staring at the food completely horrified at the task before me. I had called them earlier and J. answered. I told I was making Pot Roast, but I could make anything. She chose pork chops. I asked her about dessert and she told me ice cream and gave me the specific brand her husband likes, as she does not eat sweets anymore.
I called my sister about it this morning. I’ve been keeping it together, but the prospect of not knowing what to expect upon seeing her since I’ve not seen her since BEFORE her first Chemo treatment in January, was more than daunting. And before anyone thinks I’ve been some chicken and didn’t have the guts to go see her, that is not it at all. She specifically told all of us that she DID NOT want to see ANY of us. She wouldn’t even let her children come visit. I strictly adhered to all her wishes. Anyway, so I called my sister and was telling her about last night and I started telling her about picking up the ice cream. Something as simple as picking up the family’s favorite ice cream made me a complete puddle.
It just seemed so intrusive. I know. It sounds so odd. But although I know them, I don’t KNOW them. We hung out together at Boy Scouts. J. and I worked on our school Mardi Gras together. We talked at birthday parties and school functions. So I know it sounds so ridiculous, but knowing a family’s eating habits, someone I know, but not REALLY KNOW, seems very personal to me. And I had a difficult time… picking… out… their.. ice cream.
My sister told me I could cry all I wanted then, but when I walked in that house, I needed to have my act together, and I did.
I walked in and felt like Mary Poppins. Her husband, P., met me at the door as she is now bedridden. It took us multiple trips for us to get everything I brought into their home. I brought candles and candlesticks (I am such a spaz. Think Elaine from Seinfeld. As I left the house, I dropped one of the candlesticks and cracked it, so I quickly went to my dining room table and swiped two of mine... that had been lit! P. laughed when I told him), a big bouquet of spring flowers, salad dressing, Pork Chops, homemade gravy, Saffron rice, salad, ice cream, hot fudge sauce, Redi Whip,and brownies. He was laughing at me as I kept saying, “Wait, wait, wait, I’m not finished. I have to unload this bag too” and there would be more stuff.
She let me speak to her from the bedroom doorway. Her hair is short and spikey. It has come back in gray. She is thin. Her voice was stronger than I expected and we talked for a few minutes, until I could hear she was definitely getting tired and then I begged out so she could rest.
He is holding up. He is tired and stressed. I gave him a big hug and told him I would keep bringing food. It is all I can do. He was emotional when talking about all the kind things people are doing. I told him, “P., we can’t make this go away, although we would if we could… doing all of this is the only way we can show you how much we care about you. You have to let us do this for you and for us.” He is appreciative.
At one point he got quiet… he was listening… the look upon his face that we mothers get when we’re listening to the sound of our children’s voice or cry. I was quiet while he was intent. He said, “I thought I heard my name. I hear it now even when she is not calling.” I asked, “Do you hear it in your sleep?” and he said “Yes, even in my sleep.”
Hospice is in and counseling starts for the boys next week. P. is loving the people of Hospice. What a great group of people they are.
I didn’t cry or choke up. I laughed with him and it wasn’t fake. I was able to talk to them and not feel anything was forced. Everything felt so natural. I am numb. It is the calm before the storm.
And I will eventually have to blog my story with her… how I was the one she leaned on… the one she asked to do research on her primary disease (she has a disease that causes leukemia)… I was the one she asked, “Tell me straight up before I see them at Sloan Kettering… what are my chances? Don’t sugar coat it.”
Some things haunt you forever.