Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I do just fine during the day. There's always something to fill my mind -- things to do, things to make, play with the kids, fuss at the kids, bills to pay, internet to read.

Nighttime ... at some point, I have to leave an empty space for my thoughts. At some point I have to turn off the tv, switch off the computer, put down the book. And in that space between book and sleep, my thoughts go wild. And the space grows, and I can't sleep.

Cancer is a mind-fuck. I'm sorry, there's just no other word or phrase that means the same thing. "Messes with your mind," is too gentle for the reality.

Right now, as far as we know, Little Warrior is completely healthy. All cancer-free.

But she looks completely awful. Oh, her spirit is strong and that is beautiful, but her eyelashes are falling out, as are her eyebrows. Her head isn't bald, though. As stubborn as she is, her hair is a fine thin layer that holds fast. Tug it and she says "ouch." It's not budging. "Should we shave it?" I ask The Husband. We agree that it's not spotty, it's all over. We leave it, which is good. As long as she has something, in her mind, she has hair. Heck, she rarely looks in the mirror. I put Bo Peep's hair in a ponytail and LW asks for her hair to be put in a ponytail, too. I find a bitty-bitty barrette.

This isn't the cancer, I remind myself, as I look at her, sleeping. The shadows under her eyes are deep. She looks ... well, I'll just say it ... she looks like she's ... no. I can't say it.

She's not, I remind myself. This isn't the cancer. It's the cure. It's the chemotherapy.

When she's awake, it's harder to worry. She's full of piss and vinegar. "Meanie, meanie!" she shouts at her brother for some infraction. She runs. She plays. Her eyes are bright.

You ever wake up, suddenly, in the middle of the night? And then you think, "what woke me up?" And you worry that while you were asleep, there was a loud noise that woke you up -- a window being broken, someone breaking into the front door. So you lie very, very still, your eyes tightly closed, stretching your ears to their fullest, listening for ... something.

Little Warrior rolls over in her little inflatable bed by ours and sighs. And my worries about a strange faceless person in the house are replaced with the reality of what is in the house with us.

And I can't fall back asleep.


ms. kitty said...

Oh, honey, if I could take some of that worry away I would do it in a flash. Just know that we are with you.

Ms. Theologian said...

You might like Prayers at 3 a.m. It's out of print, but available used on amazon:

(I'm also awake in the middle of the night.)

jbgrinch said...

I remember after my heart attack I would wake up because of a twinge or just because I thought I heard something. the next few hours were just filled with the sound of my heart beating and the blood rushing in my ears. I was waiting for the next attack to take me. Must be even harder when you are watching over LW. It has now passed for me. I hope that soon it will also pass for you. I know that like heart issues cancer is with you forever after, but like death its self you learn to live with it the elephant in the room.
with love and prayers for you all

Nancy said...

Wow, what a post. I read this after standing guard in our living room with my blankie and pillow.