October 24, 2014

Tickled Pink

Oh October, how I used to love you with your crisp cool air and your apples and pumpkins. As a child and even well into adulthood, I would long for October as the official start of fall weather in New Orleans, or at least a glimpse into something other than broiling heat. But then, at some point, October became more than scary costumes and endless plastic cauldrons of chocolate; it became breast cancer awareness month. Ugh.

I know, I know you are thinking, wow, how heartless you are? Where is your Save the Boobies spirit? Where is your pink? I will tell you where it is. It died with my mother.

My mother I suppose technically did not die from breast cancer. She died from radiation induced sarcoma that was caused by the treatment for her 1989 diagnosis of breast cancer and eventually spread all over her body. She  died 11 days after her 70th birthday, her body ravaged by cancer. She was healthy except for the cancer so we had to sit and wait for a week for her organs to fail. We sat vigil by her side as she lay there in a coma. 4 days in I broke and demanded we put her out of her misery, arguing that we would not do this to the family dog, but I was told in hushed voices that it was not done that way, as if ending her pain was in some way more criminal than slowly watching her kidneys fail.

So now when October rolls around with all of its pink, I brace myself for the hit. I screw off the little pink top of the Walgreen’s medication bottle and wonder what Mom would think of all this. Would she take it seriously or, like her prosthetic breast that she said she expected to feel like a chicken cutlet, would she laugh at it all to ease the tension.

As I board my Delta flight home, I am tired and want to be home.I miss my son and I miss my husband. It is times like this that I miss my mom, even though she died nearly 9 years ago now. I want to rip the flight attendants little pink ascot off her neck, wad it up and shove it down her pretty pink mouth while she claws at me with her pretty pink nails. But I don’t. I say please and thank and yes I would like a water, thank you. Because that is what Mom would want me to do.

March 10, 2014

Do You Believe in God?

One time, I was flying from Denver to Chicago in the spring when the winds are awful. It was my first week at a new job and I moved mountains and made lots of calls to get onto that flight with my boss so we could hightail it to Chicago for a sales meeting. 

I ended up in the middle seat near the front of the plane and she was in the back. About an hour into the flight, the plane started dropping out of the sky, literally. We were heading down and the pilot came on the PA and shouted, “Everyone, in your seats now!” The flight attendants ran with the little carts to the back of the plane and told everyone to put their seat belts on.

It was quiet, strangely and eerily quiet except for a few gasps and cries each time the plane would lurch up or down or side to side. It went on for what felt like hours, but it was only a few minutes. But I was scared, really, really scared. And I prayed to God. I did not pray to nature or the wind or Good Orderly Direction or Yin or Yang. I prayed to capital “G” God and I begged to live. And when I thought that might be asking for too much, I reduced my prayer to please let me die on impact so I did not burn to death in the fuselage. 

In those last moments of thinking the plane was going down, I simply wanted not to suffer physical pain. I did not ask for forgiveness, I did not ask for anything other than the release of future pain.

The plane leveled out and we did not crash into the earth at a million miles an hour. Everyone was quiet and weird and scared the rest of the flight. The pilot came on and said it was unexpected turbulence that did not show up on the radar and that it happens sometimes.

Did my prayer to God save us from crashing? No, because I never even asked for the plane not to crash, I really just did not want to feel pain. And I didn't. So, I guess there you go. I guess someone else must have prayed for the plane not to crash.

Do I believe in God? I don’t know, but I pray every day anyway. Because I did not burn to death in the fuselage. And because one day I might.