The day my tongue exploded.
I heard a piece on NPR about a woman Hannah Palin, whose mom had a massive stroke. After months of hospitalization the mom emerged a different person. Hannah, of course happy her mom was alive, went through mourning of the mom she used to know.
I can relate to this story on multiple levels. I distinctly remember the day when i was chatting on the phone with my mom as i drove down Campbell Ave. Normal stuff, we spoke every other day or so. Then my mom said, 'So are you thinking of having kids?'. My chest tightened, blood rushed to my head, i had to find a place to pull over.
'Mom? It's Sonya, what are you talking about mom?'
'Oh that's right you have a daughter'.
'Mom, i have two teenage daughters. Mom what is going on?'.
My mom was around 60. It was alzheimers. Since then i have indeed mourned the loss of my mom. She is still alive, in a nursing home. Like Hannah, i feel guilt about the sense of mourning and loss that i have felt for many years. My father passed away last January and i often think, 'life is so strange without parents'. Sounds awful, right? I know...but my mom is no longer who she was...there are traces of her, glimmers, but she is fading away slowly and painfully before my eyes.
The other day someone referred to my cancer/laryngectomy/glossectomy as 'catastrophic', then quickly apologized. I wasn't offended. It is catastrophic, or isn't it?
Nothing is different, I just can't speak or eat. Buck up woman! People go through much worse! I feel the pull of my 'old' life...the constructs are all there. I feel guilt for not returning to it. Like it's my duty to go back to that role and pattern. At a certain point in my mom's alzheimers evolution she kept saying to me that if she couldn't work anymore that she wasn't worth anything. She raised me to believe I had to always be 'independent' and support myself. That my WORTH as an individual was directly tied to my 'work' productivity. I do believe that as humans we do need to work to support ourselves - that this notion of entitlement to 'leisure' is part of the 'fall' and that has nothing to do with survival and reality.
Wasn't it catastrophic though? I'm not the same person i was before. I can't fully define who i am now, all the little ways i have changed and am changing. I faced my own mortality in a new real way. I try not to dwell in the uncertain, because all life is uncertain...but the big ugly C does lurk at the edge of my conscience. I emerged irrationally happy with the simplest aspects of my life, grateful and optimistic. Yet the boat is delicately balanced and a simple light breeze can suddenly topple me. I no longer navigate the world with the same ease. I want to create and design, but not within my previous confines of work. Work = Stress. My body is telling me with its every fiber that stress must be avoided - run, do not walk!
I find myself torn between these two worlds. 'Old' Sonya, her programming and guilt pulls. 'New' Sonya wants to be free. Wants to create what she wants, when she wants. Spend time with the people she loves. Stare out the window at the light raking against the bark of a mesquite. Taking life slow, relishing every moment.