Tuesday, August 4, 2009


My cell phone just rang. My cell phone never rings. Everyone knows that I'm always home, and I never answer it anyway. I have it so I can call from the grocery store and ask what that other thing was that I was supposed to get. So there I was finding my purse, which I had left on the kitchen table, then struggling with the zipper, because Ezra decided to be helpful and zip it (I have never zipped my purse, and now I know why). Then I had to find the phone in the recesses of the purse, while it blared "Flight of the Bumblebee" at me. I finally found it and saw "mom-cell" on the display. Of course. She's the only one, other than the occasional telemarketer, who calls that number.

I answered it and was told, "Jeanne is gone."

One of my mom's oldest friends, she was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. Particuarly because of its unspecified origin, they attacked it with everything the local hospital and the Mayo Clinic had. And a couple of months ago, she started to improve. I should have realized she had merely been granted more time (of course, isn't that all we ever have? never all the time in the world, only more than right now, if we are lucky). She was able to attend a famliy reunion, spend time with her sons and grandchildren, and go on an annual trip with her girlfriends to the Boundary Waters. Then the cancer regained its strength and slowly took all hers. Last week they decided it was time to stop treatment, to let go, to get ready to let her go.

I am full of grief for my mom, for Jeanne's children and her dear grandchildren. For her husband, whose great joy in life has been sharing a tandem bike with his wife--now left without a partner. I am soberly reminded that there are no guarantees, that even "remission" does not mean "cured." That a time will come when I must say my goodbyes as well.

But while I think these things, life goes on. Matilda insists that she must eat noodles like the big kids, which not only means using silverware, but for some reason, eating them directly off the serving spoon. So one noodle after another goes onto the spoon, then she spends most of a minute trying to slurp it off with her lips. Ezra eats his favorite lunch with unbridled enthusiasm, saying things like "Thanks, Pishy, Pishy," then laughing hysterically. Zachary shows me that he has indeed eaten his broccoli and then is excused to go play with his new Batcave, where I hear him telling stories to himself about buying gas and never stopping until the job is done.

I am sad, but oh so happy. For in the same moment, my heart is full of aching grief for a mourning family--and aching gratitude for the family I have.


Aunt Becky said...

Grace in small places.

Hey, there. I'm Kami. said...

Wow. That gave me chills. I had a similar experience recently. A good friend of my parents passed away suddenly. She was 53 with two daughters, 12 and 22. Death is so double edged. The absolute devastation you feel for those closest to the person who died and the utter thankfulness you have when you hold your own family so tight. My husband and I are constantly reminding each other how lucky we are. Because, when you get mired down by the challenging daily goings on, sometimes you need reminding.