January 27, 2010
Tonight, after Tanner’s lesson with Mrs. O’Hara, we decided to go to Chili’s to eat. John was at a work dinner and we were on our own. Tanner loves Chili’s; she’s always trying to connive some way to get us there to eat. So, we piled happily into the car and drove down the road for dinner.
While we were waiting for our food, Tanner kept saying how hungry she was. “When will our food be here?” she asked repeatedly. When it got there, it was piping hot and I began to stir Jake’s Mac n’ Cheese so it would cool off. I looked over at Tanner and asked if she needed help cutting her chicken, but she was staring off into space and didn’t respond. I watched her for a moment; she looked exhausted. “T… you okay?” I asked. “Fine,” she said. “I just need honey mustard.”
Between the time I asked the waitress for honey mustard and the time she brought it, I watched Tanner go downhill. The waitress set the honey mustard on the table and Tanner simply lay down on my coat in the booth without a word. I knew she couldn’t eat it. It was a moment lost.
Jake and I ate as quickly as we could, boxed Tanner’s food up and left without her ever eating a bite.
Now, it may seem ridiculous to care so much about one chicken dinner in the light of some of the truly awful things she has had to face over the past 8 months, but it’s just that it is such a metaphor for life with cancer. Get excited, look forward, anticipate… be disappointed. Watch everyone else around you get the thing you wanted so badly while you remember that’s it’s not for you… you have cancer.
She handled it better than I did, really. I cried about it later, which is so uncanny, because I almost never cry about cancer. It just seemed so unfair. Such a simple thing to want.
Anyway, the rest of the night went according to Murphy’s law. I carried Tanner into the house with her hand over her mouth, rushing to the bathroom, while Jake screamed from the car where it was parked in the driveway in the dark, “I’m cared! Mommy help!” Park Tanner in front of the toilet, run back out to get Jake. Set up Tanner on the sofa with a bucket and a towel. Frantically mix up some zofran to prevent nausea. Give Tanner the medicine while Jake hangs on to me screaming because the constipation he has been suffering from finally decides to give way. Clean up (nuff said). Carry Tanner to bed, dinnerless. Put Jake to bed, a pound or two lighter. Collapse.
Usually I only recognize the humor in this kind of situation in the retelling, but this was so ludicrous that I even started laughing in the midst of it. It wasn’t a cancer moment; it was just a motherhood moment, one that moms everywhere could appreciate.
Tomorrow is clinic day. John and I are anxious. Anxious that they will raise her chemo level. Anxious that she won’t get released to school. Anxious that she will get released to school and be exposed to all those germs.
Please pray for the right thing… whatever that may be.