Life as an Extreme Sport

the night belongs to love

When we say our goodnights and head to bed, Mom doesn’t hug me, she holds me close. Her hands run up and down my back, touching lightly over the injured areas of my shoulder, following the curve of my spine as I bend over to reach her small frame.

I don’t remember her being this small, but I know it’s just a trick of the mind, an exaggeration of my fears made visible.

I clutch her to me in return, feeling the fire of chemo racing through her; it’s a strange feeling. For all of my life, I remember Mom being cold to the touch, a reflection of her low body fat. Winter meant losing Mom to layers and blankets. But this year is different; this year she’s not lost under layers that hide her shape and form and frailty. This year, her delicateness is visible to us, and I am afraid I might snap her in half as I hold her while we say goodnight.

Her lips brush against my forehead, soft and warm, and she whispers “I love you”, and I know that the time has come to let go. But only for the night. Only for the night.

Setting, Scene

Setting: Howard Johnson motel room, time: 05:00am PST.

Tracy: [rolls out of bed, mumbles]
Kelly: [makes vague gestures of “I heard you” and rolls onto other side]

Fade to black, as Kelly drifts back to bad sleep.

SUDDENLY! Alarms, noise, as much noise as can be mustered! Kelly shoots straight up in bed, looking around in wide eyed panic. Noise dims as she wakes up, and she realizes it’s coming from a small corner of the room – it’s her sister’s phone. Acting as an alarm.

Kelly debates throwing a pillow at the alarm, but figures her sister set it thus for a reason, and is simply in the bathroom.

Kelly lays back down, drifts slowly off to sleep again. Lights dim and the alarm fades…


Kelly gets out of bed, rounds the corner, and realizes she is in an empty motel room. She finds the phone, and opens it up. It continues making the most obnoxious noise mechanically possible. Kelly is rather confounded by the vast array of buttons and other options, and desperately tries to convince it to SHUT UP!

The phone is finally silent, but Kelly can’t tell if she did something to make it shush, or if it just snoozed again.

Dressed in blue plaid flannel pants and matching Eeyore top, Kelly marches out to the hotel lobby, where her sister is on the free computer.

Kelly [growling]: I am not amused.
Tracy [puzzled, looks up]
Kelly: How the fuck do you turn your alarm off? Or would you like me to just snap it in half, the better to justify replacing it to Dad?


Later, setting: car, driving to house to check on animals.

Tracy [gasping as they round the corner to the blacked out block]: Is that-?
Kelly [gasps as well]: Oh my – do they?

comedy of the absurd

Oh, as an interesting aside – in addition to my losing power, my wallet, my computer’s hard drive fatally crashing, and my mother’s diagnosis:

* my sister’s flight was cancelled today, due to fog
* about 15 minutes after they got my mother home from the hospital on Thursday, the power went out, and has stayed out. Thankfully, in addition to the portable oxygen and regular unit, they also gave her a 24 hour emergency unit – one that, as the tech showed Dad how to operate it, the tech said he had never seen or had to use in all his years doing the job.

Emotions run strong, I guess – as Dad and I commiserated, earlier this evening, about how awful a week has been, we opted to recount the horrors…and it turned into comedy, as we were laughing, hard and with much irony and wryness, by the time we got to the power outage.

Here’s hoping this might be the last of the absurd, at least for a little while.

thoughts of guilt and manipulation


Pure, physical, aching, bone deep, weary pain. Exhaustion. Feeling like the world has run me over, then backed up for another go.

Today was the day of guilt and manipulation. Of feeling like I was taking advantage of people, and my mother, by explaining what was going on in the effort to get services I needed in order to leave – primarily, to have the cats health certificated, so they can fly with me. The original hospital apparently saw dollar signs at my distress, and wanted to charge almost $250 for paperwork and shots. For a while, it looked like I was going to have to leave my cats behind – and I got caught in the horrible position of being torn between my pets and my mother.

I know that, on the surface of it, cats v mom seems like Mom would win easily. And she would have; I was already calling around making arrangements for someone to check on them every couple of days. But part of me would have been here, constantly worrying about them. Lunar is, after all, getting old, and Toledo likes to get in trouble, and as my father pointed out – asking anyone to watch cats for one or two months, or more, is asking a lot.

Thankfully, in my calling around, I found someone who – well, I want to say was kind. In fact, everyone there was very kind, but I feel I manipulated them into it. Breaking down, voice cracking and thick with tears, explaining why I needed such a last minute request – I’m not a flake, it’s just that…

So the cats will be accompanying me tomorrow, presuming nothing goes wrong with the airlines. We’re at Laurie’s right now – she’s kindly agreed to haul our butts to the airport at o’dark’early. But I’m left, now, so tired I physically hurt, the back of my mind having to ask “is this the thought of an addict?” as I think about how much I want to get up and take my morphine, my vicodin, to have at least the physical pain fade away. And I worry that it’s another thing to worry about, and think about.

And I’m also left thinking about the people I had to interact with today, at the bank and school and various vets, and how things bend so easily to what you want when you have a compelling reason, a story, a reason for people to pity you. And I wonder about manipulating that, and how not to, while still getting the benefits I, frankly, need.

It’s a lot to think about, worry about – to feel guilty about.