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.