“Good morning, gentlemen,” the waiter said to my husband and I. We’d stopped into a quaint little restaurant for second breakfast after my brain MRI this morning.
“Er, eh, …Ma’m, sorry, sorry….” He attempted to recover when he heard my voice.
“It’s ok. It happens.”
It wasn’t the only time I’d recently been mistaken for a man. About a month ago a gas station attendant said, “Can I help you, sir?” In fairness, I had no business driving to drop Julia off at the train station with so little hair in my (admittedly) manly pajamas. I was playing the part of a middle-aged balding man in a plaid flannel shirt. If I could have lowered my voice an octave I could have landed the role.
So much has happened since I last posted. Radiation is finished and by all accounts (radiation oncologist, plastic surgeon and occupational therapist) I am ahead of schedule for healing. My skin shows little if any evidence of the assault. The tissue and muscles below are coming along but are still pretty tight. There’s just that three-consecutive-day migraine bout that needs resolution, hence the brain MRI.
My brain seems to be functioning just fine so I’m not really worried. I’m back at work and finding that I didn’t forget everything I ever knew about site remediation, as I’d feared. I’d just stuffed it into storage at the back of my brain to make room for all the cancer related stuff I needed space for. I am finding I have poor recall, however, for projects that I was working on close to and just after my diagnosis. I guess those were jettisoned before they had time to settle into long-term memory. I’ve been anticipating chemo brain that might not have been evident while I was out, because I wasn’t really taxing my brain, but thankfully so far, so good.
Going back to work has been overwhelming in that so many people are stopping by to welcome me back and wish me well. I’m not really the center of attention type so I find it a bit stressful. My staff have been functioning without me for eight and a half months so I’m feeling sort of un-needed at this point, which is probably good because I’m still out a few days each week for occupational therapy and doctors appointments. They are allowing me the luxury of easing back in slowly. I continue to be grateful every day for their donations of benefit time, a cushion I can continue to rely on when I need to be out over the next few months.
Right before I went back to work we spent a weekend in Virginia with Doug, Laila and Maddie. John was at school and could not be coaxed to blow off classes to join us, which I guess is a good thing but we missed him. We had a great time. Serious hiking for Maddie and Julia (Cameron opted-out early on) who hiked Old Rag mountain in 5 hours, returning after dark (causing some parental consternation!); serious biking for Fletcher and Doug; Laila got a run in and otherwise relaxed and pseudo-hiked with me. A pseudo-hike is where you cross 2 babbling brooks on boulders then after only about a mile sit on a rock and eat a sandwich, then turn around, pick up Cameron and go to a vineyard. This was the first time in about 14 years that Bailey wasn’t with us. I missed marveling at how that old dog could run and I’m sure that’s what kept her around for so long. No photos of Ralphie but he had fun and was a good boy. Here are Laila and Beckham:
On the home front Cameron moved out and Julia is heart-broken. The way I wrote that they seem related but they are not. Julia is not heart-broken that Cameron moved out. She is heart-broken in the old-fashioned, amorous way and seems so sad. There is nothing I can do about it, no way I can fix it, and so I too am sad. It’s hard to job hunt when you’re feeling low but she’s going on a lot of interviews and getting pretty steady free lance work. Here’s why: http://www.juliagrayson.com As you can see she is amazingly talented. And beautiful. And funny. Lately we have civil conversations without exasperated endings. Progress.
On the other hand Cameron has moved out and is happy. I think it will be a great experience for her and she is only about 3 miles away, so therefore I too am happy. She’s learning to live on her own, juggling 3 jobs (one of which is a promising career path in alternative education), with a solid safety net (i.e., us). I am trying hard to avoid uncivil conversations and exasperated endings with Cameron. Unschooling Cameron has taught me so much. I can’t help but think I’d be handling this all very differently, and not in a good way, if Cameron and her “issues” hadn’t forced me to be a better parent.
I keep thinking back to this day: Cameron was about 8 and snuggled with me in bed reading. Then thirteen-year-old Julia burst in and spewed a rambling complaint about some way in which I had wronged her, spoiled her plans, or in some way was an unfit mother who was ruining her life. I can’t even remember what she was so angry about. She stormed away. Cameron looked up at me and said, “Mommy I’ll never talk to you like that.” This prompted me to explain what hormones are and that I would love her even if she does talk to me like that because chances are, as unlikely as it seemed at that moment, she will also think, mostly because of hormones, that I am stupid and incompetent at some point. She didn’t seem to believe me then but about five years later found that I was right.
Having kids is a non-stop drama. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that there is always something major going on in their lives. When they were young we were directing the play but at this point we are in the audience, maybe called on to be an usher, but for the most part we just get to watch the show, not even allowed to adjust the stage lights or submit a review.
For now, my personal drama is to try to act like things are normal. Like I can put what just happened behind me. If I can make people believe I’m a middle-aged balding man in a plaid flannel shirt maybe I can make myself believe 2014 didn’t happen.