The phone call from Hell comes in the basement of a church.

My full name is Sarah Jane Washington.  But you can call me Esser.

Sarcoidosis.  Big word.  It’s an auto-immune disease with no cure but pretty good treatments.  It’s not a very nice thing to have.  I wish Cliff had it.  That’s what we thought he had for about a week until we got his test results back.  Obviously, I wish he didn’t have anything at all, but ‘even lymphoma would have been better than this,’ the oncologist said.

Cliff has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.  No cure.  No treatment. No hope for life after one year.  Well, we have hope.  But the doctors don’t.

They give him six months.

We were obscenely happy B.C. (before cancer).   This is the story of how we are stealing back the happiness, which, rightfully, shouldn’t be ours any more, and how we bravely and greedily grab even more A.D. (after diagnosis).


4.45 p.m. The ringing is so loud! I knew he was going to ring, but honestly, it’s deafening in this tiny toilet room in the church basement where Grant, our ten year old, is having his piano lesson.  Bother.  How do I turn the volume down?  I fumble with the phone and it falls to the floor.  Screaming like a siren.  Finally, I manage to answer it.  The name of the caller appears on the screen.  This is the call I’ve been waiting for.

I say, ‘Hi.’  And he says, ‘Hello.’  ‘So,’ I ask.  ‘What did she say?’  I’m casual in tone and calm inside.  I’m more worried about negotiating my current activities and getting out of here without dropping the phone in the toilet.  I’m forever wrecking phones.  This is my third phone this year.

A week ago Cliff casually mentioned that he had an appointment with the GP (doctor) because he had a tickly cough that wasn’t improving and he was more short of breath than normal on his bike ride to work.  No big deal.  He’s pretty good at looking after himself and so without much notice from me he took himself off to the GP.  She sent him off for a scan.  No biggy there either.  He had a sore on the right side of his ribs six months ago, which they never really figured out.  He got some scans, blood tests, physio appointments and they all came up clear.  Nothing there.  And then, just as mysteriously as it had arrived, the pain inexplicably disappeared.  Gone.

Their best guess was shingles or some other simple and innocent, though inconvenient and uncomfortable, condition.   So, when he went off for another doctor’s visit and scan, it was no big deal.  Furthermore, he is the biggest, strongest, fittest, fastest, healthiest 48 year old you could ever hope to meet.  Did I mention handsomest?  Not relevant, but has to be said.  After 22 years together, I still stare at him and think, how the hell did I land that?

So, today Cliff came home from work early at 4.00 pm, explaining he’d received a call from the GP asking him to visit her office immediately.  She wanted to discuss the results of the scan in person, ‘not over the phone’.  A bit odd and overreactive we thought.  She isn’t his usual doctor; Cliff’s doctor is on holiday (vacation).  We thought perhaps she is young and inexperienced.

Whatever, I thought.  He’ll get the results and he’ll be home early for a bit of extra family time.  It’s such a nice bonus having him home early.  So he went in to see her while I dropped off our two youngest boys at my parents’ house for a play and drove Grant to his piano lesson. Cliff said he’d call me with the results, so I wouldn’t worry unnecessarily.

So the call.  When I finally gathered the phone up to my ear and sat back down to talk with him, he told me, ‘She found five large lumps in my chest …’  He said it so directly, I thought it was a joke. But then he didn’t say anything else.  He just said that. ‘She found five large lumps in my chest..’  Then silence.  I was waiting for the punch line.  Nothing.

I blinked.  A lot.  My brain was spinning.  Still nothing, so I filled in the gap. ‘Are you joking?’  ‘No, I’m not joking,’ he said in an incredibly unemotional way.  I was expecting a reassuring laugh. But no.  There was none of that.  It was plain and clear and cut into my heart like a big, steel knife and just stuck there.

He said he had to go; he was still with the doctor and she was making an appointment for us to see an oncologist tomorrow. She was off the phone now (I could hear her in the background) and wanted to speak to him again.  We exchanged a quick ‘Love you’ but were both thinking loudly WTF?!

I walked back upstairs, the big, nasty handle of a 6-inch blade sticking out of my chest.   I looked down at it a couple times.  It was firmly lodged and it wasn’t moving.   No blood.  Just stuck there like my own private horror show.  No one else could see it, of course.  Just me and later, as it turns out, Cliff and a few close friends and family could see it too.  But it looked so real to me then, protruding straight from my heart with its nasty, hard handle.  Sitting there.  Waiting to be wrenched out or twisted, or something else to happen.  I didn’t know what.  I just felt this emotional knife sticking there.  It was bizarre.

I sat in a confused, numb daze on the bench outside Grant’s piano lesson.  He was about to finish.   Immediately, it became clear to me that this knife was about to start doing something.  It was about to start hurting.  You know when your body sustains an injury that happens so suddenly and with so little warning that your brain hasn’t caught up?  You can look down at your mangled leg for about three seconds before you start to feel the pain?  It was like that.

Still confused, I started to weep.  I wasn’t sure why.  I didn’t know what five lumps in his chest could mean.  But it didn’t seem like it could be good.  I cried and cried, silently.  Did Cliff say something else after the lumps thing?  I struggled to remember.  He must have.  What was it?  Oh, that’s right, vaguely and quietly he had said a few things it might be.  One was some big, long word starting with ‘s’, which seemed innocent enough and the other word was now flashing like an oversized, red beacon above the fog … ‘lymphoma’.  That’s right.  Now the crying began in earnest.

He said his doctor didn’t know what it was (the lumps might just be tissue), so I managed to hold myself together around the edges.  I hadn’t completely unraveled. I still hoped the whole thing was just an over-reaction to nothing.  I sucked it all up, straightened myself out, wiped my eyes, blew my nose, breathed a lot.  Then Grant and his piano teacher emerged.

From the looks on their faces I did a poor job of pulling myself together.  They both stared at me in shock.  I stood up.  Smiled.  And when it was obvious they weren’t going to say anything, I asked, ‘Did you have a good lesson?’ ‘Yes,’ his teacher said.  But she kept staring.  Could they see the knife? She reached out and rested her hand on my shoulder.  Great.  That’s all I needed.  I started tearing up again.  I apologized.  I was losing my composure.

The thing is, I wasn’t expecting Cliff’s news.  You can’t steel yourself against something you don’t know is coming; against something that is unidentified.  I wanted to smile and walk away, but honesty slipped from me like a birthday-present-secret from a child.

‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m crying.  It’s silly,’ I said to Grant in front of the teacher, my arm around his shoulder.  ‘Dad just told me the doctors found some lumps in his chest.’ The teacher’s jaw dropped slightly.  Just a blank, alarmed look from Grant. I managed to quickly add, ‘But it’s O.K.  It’s probably nothing.  Probably just … nothing.  They’ll send us to a specialist tomorrow and she’ll clear this up.  Sorry.  Sorry, for my reaction.  It was bad timing; he only just rang me.  It’s nothing.’  Still with my arm around Grant, we walked out to the car.

At home now, trying to move through dinner, bath, stories, teeth, tuck in bed.  Numb, shock.  Let’s not be alarmed.  We don’t know what it is.  Could be nothing.  Doing our best to ignore it and sleep.  We’ll see what the oncologist says.

Love, Esser

btw, my favourite cousin used to call me all different kinds of pet names.  A name like Sarah doesn’t tumble easily into a nickname, but he magic-ed up all kinds of charming, quirky tags like Sarahndipity, which was often just Dipity, or sometimes Squara, Clara or Farah.  I also got Saramandar, Stair-a-case and Mog.  I have no idea where Mog came from.  For a while he called me Sariah Sophia Agia Galina – that was after he went to Greece in his gap year.  But mostly I was just Esser to him.  He grew that one up from the seed of calling me ‘The S’, then ‘The S’er’ and finally just ‘S-er’ which, when writing to me, he spelled Esser.  So I guess it was as close to my real name as he ever got.  I never heard him say my name.  But I didn’t mind.  I liked the special ones he gave me better. He died of type I Diabetes when he was twenty-three.  I was eighteen.


Looks like he’s got an extra heart. That’ll come in handy since mine has stopped.

The oncologist who was supposed to meet us is not available at such short notice.  The temporary oncologist takes a general history, which is all fabulous.  Then she says, ‘Just looking at the lumps, we can’t tell what it is.’  She shows us the x-ray.  I don’t know what I’m looking at.  I think the x-rays looks like Cliff has two new, big organs.  I ask her to explain what that organ on his heart is.  What could that be?  What goes there? I can’t think of an organ that’s supposed to be on your heart.  I try my best to remember high school anatomy and can’t recall seeing any other organ that shape there.  And, whoa, there’s another big organ sitting on his lungs.  What?  Maybe he has an extra heart or an extra lung or something, you know, like some people have an extra toe?  She explains those are the tumours they’re worried about.




They are bigger than I imagined.  I was imagining little things – cherry-sized.  These are big, egg-size tumors, piled on top of each other.

We try very hard to get some guidance from her.  This does not look good, but it’s probably nothing, right?  ‘Well, it could be lymphoma,’ she says.  We hold our breath. ‘Or, it could be sarcoidosis.’  We breathe again.  Sarcoidosis is basically just tissue and it goes away with steroids (well, that’s the simplified version of what she said).  She won’t give us anything to be sure about until there is a biopsy.  She insists that’s the only way to know what we’re looking at.  Without being able to get more from her, we leave.  A biopsy is scheduled for this Friday.

Love, Esser


It’s a different kind of frightening, not knowing what to be afraid of.

It’s been a harrowing three days in no-man’s-land.

I’m sitting in the waiting room of the hospital now.  Cliff is having a biopsy procedure.

We received a call earlier today from his normal G.P., who offers excellent advice. ‘No point in worrying until you know what you’re worrying about.’  So we try to put it out of our minds.  The best we can manage is to tread water and go through our day feeling nothing.  We have to shut off our emotions and just wait.

It’s like we have flattened ourselves up against our bedroom wall because we’ve heard a monster in the hall.  We try not to breathe, not to make a noise or blink.  We listen hard for the monster, acutely aware he is in the house.  But all I can hear is the deafening drum of my heart in my ears.   If I let myself think, even slightly, about the possibilities of what that monster might be like, my brain wants to walk out into the hall and investigate.  Like those stupid idiots in horror films who go toward the danger.  Back, back, back.  Back against the wall.  Just wait.  It’s safe there.  Our curious brains want to demystify the fear, so we can deal with it better.  It’s a different kind of frightening, not knowing what to be afraid of.  We will meet with the oncogolist on Tuesday for the results.

Love, Esser


The electric fence goes live.

He had the scan on Friday, which can be described as ‘uncomfortable’ at best.  Then, we wait an excruciating weekend.     Excru-u-u-u-uciating.  The only way I can get through is to believe it’s sarcoidosis.  And it’s never anything else anyway.  Life is almost always just fine, isn’t it?  Don’t you agree?  Except, of course, that one time eight years ago with my brother, Mitch.  But that was an anomaly.  Dramatic things don’t happen in our lives.  So, I put on my ‘big-girl’ pants, stepped away from the wall and carried on living as best I could until today.  We head in to the oncologist’s office for the second time.  It’s Cliff’s ‘real’ oncologist this time.  Toni Trenshaw.

We go in happy, confident and calm.  Since last week we’ve researched everything it could be, matched up his symptoms and came up with the definitive conclusion that it’s sarcoidosis.  Because his cousin had that, it’s probably a genetic link.  Cliff is a molecular geneticist, so we’re on that train.  And genetically he looks and seems to share a lot of similarities with his cousin, so there’s all kind of evidence, right?  Anyway, finally, today, we can go and get this thing cleared up, get the steroid pills and move on.

Toni comes out to get us from the waiting room.  She’s young and short and nice and greets us with a big smile.  She reminds me so much of one of my best friends, Melanie Stanton.  I like her already but, of course, I don’t need to like her because she is just going to send us to a respiratory specialist, who will give Cliff some steroid pills and we’ll never see her again.

She guides us to the chairs in her office.  She starts to talk about the biopsy result and what they found.  She talks using only big words.

How can you fit that many big, scientific words into a sentence without any little words in between that give me a hint to what you’re saying?  I’m sure she’s talking about what they found in the biopsy and that they’re quite clear about what they found.  But I have no idea what she is saying they found.  And no indication from her demeanour whether this is good or bad.  I say, ‘Excuse me, I’m really sorry.  What does that mean?’

Ever so kindly, sweetly and gently she reached out and took my wrist.  She held it up above the electric fence that stretched between us.  All the while, apologizing and looking straight into my eyes with clear, plain sympathy.  I saw her lips moving but I couldn’t hear anything.   She opened my hand out flat, turned it so my palm faced the wire and wrapped my palm and my fingers firmly around the live, electric wire. I was attached.

She said, in lay-person’s terms, ‘That’s cancer.’  I back off like she’s slapped me.

I blink a lot, trying to clear something from in front of me.  I think she just said cancer.

There’s a pause.  Cliff and I look at each other.  We look back to her.  She continues talking.  At least she keeps making noises and her mouth is moving.   Yes, the sun is streaming in the window, Cliff is next to me, there is a nice doctor in front of me, who just told us Cliff has cancer.  Yes.  That has just happened. O.K.  That happened.  That can be confirmed to have just happened.  O.K.  What’s next.  Because stuff is still happening!  I’m just not keeping up.  I look at him.  I look at her.  She’s still talking.  I have no idea what she’s saying.  Not sure if I’m stupid or just stuck on the only word I’ve heard since we got in this room.

I think she might be talking now about what this means.  I interrupt again. ‘Forgive me.  Is this serious?’  Because I think she might have just been explaining to Cliff in some medical language whether this is serious or not, but I still have no idea if it is just one of those annoying little cancers that can be snipped off or kept at bay with drugs or whether we’re talking about something else here.

In the most apologetic manner, she reached for my other wrist.  Again, gently and simply, she opened my other hand, turned it over and placed it next to my right hand … on the electric fence. 

‘Yes. This is serious.’  Again with that!  Plain, straightforward news that she’s meant to be giving someone else.  This is getting annoying now.  ‘How serious?’ I ask.  Because with a little luck her serious is not really what we would call serious and this whole thing can be taken care of with a few visits and drugs and boom, done. Cleared up.

Oh.  She’s pausing.  What is she pausing for?  She sighs.  Why is she sighing? ‘We think Cliff has six months.’  Another pause, a gap, she looks to us. ’Maybe a year, if he is lucky. You can hope for more.’

What the fuck?

I look at Cliff.  I look back to her.  I stare at her.

‘I’m sorry,’ she says.

Oh, my God.  I wrap Cliff in my arms and weep… while everything changes.

Love, Esser


And in your “Cancer Diagnosis Welcome Kit” you will also receive…

Don’t know how long we were like that.  Wrapped around each other.

Eventually, I guess we realized we were in a doctor’s office and she was reading us, what felt like, our final rights, and I think she had more to say.  We turned to look at her. I pulled my chair in closer to Cliff’s.  I couldn’t let go of him.

She kept talking about stuff.  Cliff kept asking questions like, ‘Couldn’t you have got this wrong?’  And she said she didn’t think so.  The pathology was clear.  The doctor who analysed his biopsy was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt.  He showed it to others and she was sending it off for an official second opinion as well (which came back today with the same diagnosis.).

I was going to vomit.  I had to go to the bathroom. I was incredibly and suddenly physically sick.  I couldn’t breathe properly.  I couldn’t slow my breathing down.  I was breathing fast, shallow, sharp, useless air.  My hands and feet got all hot, tingly and twitchy and my torso was numb.

I learned this is a physical shock response left over from mankind’s days on the savannah. When we receive a terrible shock, like coming around the corner face-to-face with a lion, we empty our stomach, so we are lighter to flee, and we get energy in our hands and feet to fight or run.

I felt like I’d been turned inside out.  All my nice, strong, protective outside bits were now squished and small and being entirely ineffective inside of me, and all my soft, sensitive, raw bits that need protecting were now all over the outside getting sat on and stepped on and touched. Everything just hurt!

I whispered, ‘Excuse me.’ I didn’t think I could hold it in any more.  I had to go be sick.  It would be awkward cleaning up vomit off her floor.  But I couldn’t leave. I had to hold it together.  I needed to be here for this.  I held my stomach and dropped my head between my knees.  Tears streamed steadily and silently up my forehead, dripping into my hair and on to the floor.  This can’t be happening, my body is screaming in pain, but I am silent.  I didn’t make a noise.  I wasn’t loud or dramatic — I just felt sick.  Incredibly, incredibly sick.  And incredibly upset  —  way, way out there beyond what can be described as upset.  And Frightened.  But somehow the word ‘frightened’ seems so inadequate.  It doesn’t even begin to describe how scared I was.

Cliff drove us home.  He was calm.  Calm enough to get us home.

I don’t understand how he can be so calm.  But soon I realize it’s a gift in a box with a bow on it that is given to you along with bad news and it’s called Denial.  Bless every ounce of it.

Love, Esser


The Gaga Suit

For this first week A.D. I spend 15 minutes before the school pick-up hiding in the empty sick bay (nurse’s office) behind the teacher’s lounge.  I wait here for the school bell to ring.

I can’t face anyone.

I don’t know what’s happening.

I’m afraid of the question, ‘How are you?’

I am scared of my own shadow, mostly because it has changed.  Everything has changed.

I walk around in a spiky glass suit.  It’s as comfy as a porcupine costume turned inside out.  Crazy, torture couture.  Very Lady Gaga.  A designer suit with a special lining of glass shards made for, not the extremely rich, but the extremely uncomfortable.  It’s mine.  Got it at the very exclusive oncology reception desk.  Fuck.  Even the anticipation of any move is frightening.  When can I take this horrible creation off?  I can’t find the zip.

The other thing I didn’t know …  its’ invisible.  Cliff and I went to the shopping centre (mall) to get him a nice leather-bound journal to write all his notes in.   Since he is a scientist, he understands the world through patterns and takes incredibly detailed notes in his work. He wants a notebook to record every question he needs to ask the doctors and all the answers he gets.

This whole thing is so unbelievably, horribly strange and bad that I try at every moment, every opportunity, to look for ways to make it somehow less horrible for him, for us.  If I salvage some piece of joy, no matter how fragmented, from each moment I am ‘doing’ something positive, counterintuitive to the situation, and I have an unconscious theory that it neutralises, at least in some small way, the negative situation.

Cliff said he wanted a notebook and instead of getting a spiral bound, I wanted him to have something that was pleasant to hold onto and to look at.  And I wanted to make the outing, to buy it, nice as well.  So I suggested we get a small, leather-bound, refillable notebook and that we stop at the outside cafe at the mall to have lunch together on our way.

I had the waitress take this photo.

Esser & Cliff at Coffee shop

Being out, in the middle of the week, with the love of my life on a lunch date is a completely novel situation and I wanted a photo of it, instinctively trying to focus on the good moments of the day.  But when I looked at the photo after she handed my phone back to me I was creeped out.  It was freaky and … wrong!  We look so normal!  We actually even look … happy?!  WTF?! Like an ordinary middle-aged, middle-class, healthy, happily married couple having a good time at a café together.

No one can see this horror.

It’s so real, so palpable, so visible in everything I see … but it’s invisible.  That must be how people feel alone.  No one can see what they’re going through and they don’t know how to sprinkle magic dust on their invisible pain to show the ones they love where the hurt is.  This writing is my dust.

Here is a sweet image I found on pinterest.com.

The best things in life are unseen

Today, I would say, ‘The most important things are unseen.’  Not just the best.  It is true of the best but also true of the worst things in life.  All unseen.

Isabelle, my sister, rang me last night.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado.  She says she’s flying out … today.  My parents, who emigrated to Australia from Boulder ten years ago and now live three minutes from us, must have rung her.  I haven’t had time to call anyone yet.  I’ll pick Isabelle up from the airport tomorrow morning after I drop the kids at school. My parents would do it, except that my dad is taking my mom to the hospital tomorrow for a little day-procedure on her eye.

Isabelle is coming alone.  Her husband, Michael, works for a big financial brokerage firm and she’s flying out Business Class on his air miles.  He’s not coming.  Not here at least.  He is going to meet her in Queensland next week, where he has some clients to see.  She explained he doesn’t ‘do’ sickness and he won’t talk about Cliff with her.  That’s O.K.  It will be nice to see her.  I haven’t seen her in eight years, since Mitch’s funeral.

Love, Esser


We ‘do’ chemo.

Here’s a photo of Cliff at 9:00 this morning …

Cliff biking on Chemo morning

… and here’s a photo of Cliff at 9:00 this evening.

9:00 this evening


I picked my sister up from the airport this morning.  No drama.  At least no real ones.  Just ones Isabelle created herself by getting into a massive argument with a steward during the flight and then feeling compelled to file a formal complaint with the airlines when she landed.  By the time she arrived at the baggage carousel her bags had been moved into storage. Took me two and half hours to collect her.  I don’t know why I’m surprised.  I know her.

The boys were excited to see her though (and the gifts she brought) and she valiantly fought off jet-lag to mind them after school.  Quite sweet.

While she looked after the kids, Cliff and I went to the hospital to admit him for an overnight stay to get blasted with cisplatin and alimta; the chemo drugs for mesothelioma.  This is palliative chemo they tell us, not curative.

Jessica Houghton, our dear, dear friend whose children attend the same school as ours, and Monique, Cliff’s sister, both came in to the hospital to be with us for part of the afternoon.  In Cliff’s private hospital room we received 90 minutes of chemo training and safety information.  The World’s Most Wonderful Nurse, Brad Cransky, taught us how to ‘do’ chemo properly.  In between breaks for my tears and near-vomit-head-between-the-knees-get-some-blood-to-the-brain-and-stop-the-room-from-spinning-while-I-try-to-slow-down-the-breathing-so-it’s-effective breathers, we learned how best to keep Cliff safe during and after the chemo treatments.  I was also given instructions on how to keep our children and myself safe from this essential poison we are so grateful for and loathe so much.

Love, Esser


Chemotherapy. Been there. Done that.

Uneventfully, I go to check Cliff out of the hospital and bring him home.  We’re both relieved he is back.  And we hold our breath, wondering what the fallout will be from the chemo.  So far it’s fatigue, a druggy feeling and a bit of nausea.  Not pleasant, but not violently sick.

Grant builds the train track around base of the Christmas tree while Grandma ‘Teetah’, who has had no lasting effects from Friday’s little eye procedure, sorts the ornaments.

Grant and Teetah decorate the tree

My mom’s name is Teresa, but Grant couldn’t say that when he was a toddler so she became Teetah.  Teetah and Grant both love decorating the house for the seasons and enjoy all the festive traditions during the holidays.

Love, Esser


Three Generation Poker Game

Boys night in.

O.K.  It’s not poker.  It’s RushHour by ThinkFun.  An amazingly fun little game for kids (highly recommend it) and we had three generations playing tonight today.  Tom, Cliff and Grandpa (PJ).  Making the most of every moment together.

I drove Isabelle back to the airport this morning to catch her flight to Queensland where she will meet up with her husband, Michael.

Love, Esser


Bit of big sister drama. Why not? Nothing else going on.

Tom performs at his Kindergarten Christmas Concert

Tom at his kindergarten (pre-school) end-of-year concert

Was doing O.K. yesterday after I took Isabelle to the airport.  Mainly because our friends Kim and Graham came around with their three boys, who played beautifully with our boys.  It was a bright sort of visit in which they tried, valiantly, to cheer us up, but all four of us were in a strange shock.  The fact that everyone tried to be cheerful actually did cheer us up a bit.  Cliff was able to walk to the playground.  The first ‘activity’ he’d done since his first round of chemo on Friday.  Kim and Graham helped me move all the warehouse boxes out of the front bedroom into the rumpus room, so Grant could have his own room instead of sharing with Tom.  It was such a relief to set Grant up in his own space.  He’s really excited about it.

Then.  Fell off some invisible cliff this morning.

I don’t know why.

I suppose it might be just waking up.  Again.  Into some strange, terrible world that wasn’t here last week.  And the realization of it hitting me.  And it feels like this …

Girl falling off edge

… but even darker, scarier, more sinister.

7.10 a.m.  Managed to go to the bread shop and come home, eat breakfast, make the kids’ lunches and get them off to school without too much drama, just gloom in my heart.

Then, when I arrived at Tom’s kindergarten this morning, his teacher wanted to have some big heart-to-heart with me about his disgusting behaviour on Friday night at the concert.  What?  Seriously?

I tried to tell her, twice, that his behaviour was the least of my concerns and then she proceeded to remind me about my sister and how terrible Isabelle felt about having taken my keys off the chair next to me, putting them in her purse and not telling me, so I had to race around like a mad chicken with my head chopped off after the concert asking everyone if they’d seen my keys.  When they were in her purse the whole time.

I even asked her if she took them.  Twice.  And also asked her, twice, to look in her purse but she denied she had them. Instead, she bombarded me with six thousands questions. ‘Could you have locked them in the car?  Did you have them when you came?  Have you asked the teacher if she’s seen them?  Do you want me to get the microphone and make an announcement before everyone leaves?’  So fast and furiously, I couldn’t think straight and had to ask her to let me think for a minute.

After no luck in the search, we made alternative arrangements and were driving home with Tom in a friend’s car to get my spare keys, when she reached in her bag and pulled out my keys, dangled them high up in the air and blurted out loudly, ‘I’m the bad guy again.’

Not, ‘Sorry.’  Not, ‘Oh, poor, hungry Tom.’ Not, ‘Oh, this must be so awful for you and Cliff who have to be apart during this time.’  Nope.  Only this … running into the kindergarten when we get back to tell everyone that she had the keys in her bag and how ‘awful’ she feels about it … so they’d pity her.

So Tom’s kinder teacher wanted to tell me this morning how bad my poor big sister felt and how I must be so sad for her.  Perfect.

Love, Esser