I’m having a hard time. There’s no way around it. I keep trying to turn the corner but I just can’t seem to do it.
Sometimes it’s the big things, the obvious stuff that would keep anyone up at night…like, will the cancer come back, will I live a natural lifespan? That’s understandable…I can deal with all that long term, I think. But it’s actually the little things that hold me back from moving on…I’m finding the subtle stuff worse. All those countless reminders, the myriad ways that the aftermath of cancer infuses every nuance of my life. That’s what is eating away at me. And not just me.
Daniel has a number of mosquito bites on his leg and he is very upset by them. At first I thought it was the idea of a creature biting him that was the trouble, but he seems more worried about the appearance of the red bumps. I’ve had to assure him numerous times that they will go away, he won’t be marked forever.
This morning I think I finally figured out why it has been so disturbing for him. He asked me if the boo-boo on my reconstructed breast would ever go away. The scar from the skin necrosis is significant, and what’s left of my nipple & areola is markedly different than my unaffected breast. I told him that no, it would not go away, but that was okay. I explained again to him that the boo-boo didn’t hurt, it was a scar from when Mama had cancer. Did he remember that, I asked? No. He burst into tears that my boo-boo was there forever -- and that’s when I knew…he was afraid his mosquito bumps would be too. I reassured him over and over again that his bites were not the same as Mama’s scar. He seemed to feel better but was still quite sad that my boo-boo was permanent. I told him that I was okay with mine, that I even was happy to have the scar because it was from the doctors taking out cancer, and if they didn’t do that I would have gotten very sick and not been here to take care of him and watch him grow up.
It’s hard to believe he doesn’t remember the summer of my mastectomy in 2009, but then again, why would he, he was only 2 at the time. He barely remembers me being sick from chemo in 2010 either. However he does fondly recollect my hair and every once in a while he’ll say how much he misses it. It’s longer now, finally down over my ears…but still not long enough to play with the way he used to.
Daniel doesn’t remember nursing, either, and that breaks my heart to pieces, I will truly never get over having to wean him and the painful process that was. He’s heard us talk about nursing, tho, and I’d like to think on some subconscious level it’s still there in his little soul, all those tender moments, that precious experience. After seeing a baby nurse on TV last night he asked me if I could ever give him milk again from my “ta-ta” (what we used to call it). I hesitated for a minute and by the time I was ready to answer him he’d moved on to another subject. I’m glad. I don’t know if I could have held it together even after all this time.
The trifecta came just a few moments ago. I decided to clean out a drawer of a long dresser by our front door. The first thing I pulled out was a receipt. It was from an upscale maternity boutique, one that I visited only once. I needed nursing bras. Michael had found a silly little baseball cap and bought it for Daniel. It was listed on the receipt by what it said across the front…“Boob Man” -- $15.00 .
My kid had mosquito bites, I cleaned out a drawer and WHAM, here I sit trying not to drown my keyboard in fresh tears. Forgive me, I know Memorial Day is something different, but right now for me remembering is overrated. Just once I’d like to forget.