The night before, bear with me for just a little bit longer

June 7, 2011 – I had spent the whole day laundering bed linen, cleaning my bathrooms and finally started washing my floors for my mother and brother’s arrival, before running over to WCH, late afternoon, for my Sentinel injection. I met Lisa L. for dinner at the Trinity Bellwoods Market. I didn’t think I had time to eat but Lisa had convinced me I could get a quick bite without thinking about cooking or cleaning afterwards. I ordered a butterfish sandwich with a homemade ginger beer from the Fish Shak guys, sat down on Lisa’s blanket and shared my tasty sandwich with Zipora, Lisa’s 2-year-old girl. It was the only meal I had the whole day aside from a banana blueberry smoothie I made for breakfast in the morning. Lisa couldn’t understand why I was cleaning, surely my Mom, wouldn’t expect me to wash my floors, right before my surgery.  I told her, my Mom would. She shrugs her shoulders, we hug, kiss and say good luck and I love yous, Lisa even pats my, as Zipora calls it, “boobie” goodbye.

Back home, I quickly mopped my wood floors in the living room and bedroom. I received a text from Cory, my brother, telling me they were in Trenton, about 3 hours away. I told him to take his time, I had just started washing the floor he would be sleeping on. Maggie called to tell me she was at her sister’s and wanted to know if she could come over.  She would be coming to the hospital with my brother and Mom, it would be a good time to figure out what the plan was, for surgery day. I wanted Maggie there because I didn’t know if I had to get myself changed and clothed after surgery, (my friend, Tim told me he had just had eye surgery, when he awoke with bandages blinding his sight, the nurses slammed his clothing onto his chest said, ‘here are your clothes’ and left the room) and I wanted Maggie there, not my Mom to help me, I thought Mom seeing me with one breast, all stitched, and bandaged would be too much for her. And besides Maggie could fill me in on all the details of what went on while I was in the operating room. I called my Dad, knowing he wasn’t allowed to come… just to say, ‘hi’ and let him know I was going to be fine.  He sounded excited to hear from me because his phone access to me, was usually limited with Mom around.  I asked him how he was and what he would be doing tonight.

“Going to casino, honey! I waiting for my friend to pick me up.  You okay, honey?  Mommy and Cory at your place now?”  He was in a much, much different mind set than the one I was told.  It might have been him trying to keep his mind off things, as well.  I was sort of happy he was getting out and hanging out with his friends during this time.  He asked me to call him when everyone arrived and after a few awkward words, before I hung up, I told him “I love you, Dad.” Which we both knew had been decades since I told him so.

Maggie and I were having tea (yes, AMC, I was drinking the cancer antioxidants tea which you sent me) outside because it was cooler outside than in my apartment. Cory and Mom arrived around 10pm and we carried their bags in for them.  Cory commented on the fact I had air conditioning but didn’t bother turning it on.  On hot summer nights, I like to shower before going to sleep at night and never really bother with air conditioning unless it’s truly unbearable. My baby brother, on the other hand, starts to perspire profusely at the smell of hot chillies and at the first sight of a robin’s red breast, at Spring time, so I turned on the air conditioning.

Maggie, on her way out, exchanged cell numbers with Cory and established where to meet and at what time. Mom wanted to make a phone call to Dad and Cory called Stephanie to let her know they arrived.  I went into the kitchen to wash some dishes and put away their provisions from their drive from Montreal to the Tdot. Mom proceeded to press the numbers on the dial pad of my phone – 47 TIMES. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, click, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, click, beep, beep, beep, and on, and on, and on!  HOLY SH-T! Mom, what are you doing?  Let me dial it, I listen to a busy signal on the other end and tell her, Dad probably hung the receiver up the wrong way. You can call his cell or call back later.  I mistakenly, give her the phone again, beep, beep, beep, beep…

“What is that noise?  Who’s doing that?!!”  Cory yelled.  Mom, I told him. He’s gone to the casino, I said to Mom.

“Huh, you spoke to him?” she asked. I told her I called to find out when they had left Montreal. She has been keeping my contact with Dad at a minimal, because she thinks he would get too stressed about the whole thing.

I can’t remember what we spoke about in those couple of hours before we went off to sleep.  I know Cory asked if I was doing okay.  I told him I’m doing as best as I could, given the circumstance.  My mom asked if I was all packed up and if I had everything to stay over at Steph’s parents (Cory’s in-laws) place. I don’t want to forget my natural toothpaste, as my skin has reactions to regular store-bought toothpaste, I tell her. We talk about all things other than my operation, if I recall correctly.

We were all tucked in by 11:30pm.  In my living room, Mom on my daybed and Cory on his air mattress, on the floor with the air con humming away, dissipating the sticky warm air.  I closed my bedroom door to keep their space to an optimal cool.  My skin was dry and a wee bit scaly (no body lotions or creams to moisturize until after surgery) from the anti-bacterial surgical soap I was instructed to use, before jumping into my clean sheets.  The air was heavier, more humid, in my bedroom than the living room, but it wasn’t anything, I wasn’t used to handling in the Summer.  Before shutting my eyes, I read some more emails with well wishes from my family and friends. Facebook statuses in my newsfeed reflected those who would be thinking of me throughout the day.  I was touched and smiled lots.

Trying to stay upbeat, in my mind, I thought about what I could look forward to, on the following day’s scary event.  I decided on two things. One, it would make me happy, if I could milk copious amounts of medical drugs, to help me forget what was going to happen to me in surgery and tons of painkillers for post-op. Two, which I think is the best! I convinced myself I could will myself to flatline for a few minutes while I floated away, to the other side, to talk to dead people. Grandma, would be waiting at the end of the light for me, there was no doubt in my mind. She would take my hand, we would go to the after life Chinese market, pick out some pastries and fruit to have with tea and catch up, just like we used to do when I went to visit while I was in college/university. She would bitch at me for some dumb life choices, bum boyfriends, and berate me for not visiting my family more often, I’d bicker back with her, but in the end, we would laugh it off. I would just enjoy one last moment with her before coming back. It would have been a really good visit if I had died for a little bit.

My alarm woke me up at 5:00am.  I had slept for two hours, just as I had expected. Jumped out of bed, to take my second surgical shower, opened my bedroom door and looked down the hallway to see the kitchen light on.  My mother was, awake and fully dressed, waiting for us to get ready for my surgery scheduled for 7:45am.


navigating my way through cancer with laughter, fear, and madness.

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One comment on “The night before, bear with me for just a little bit longer
  1. Anne Marie says:

    Like the shout out!!! Glad you are making use of the tea.

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