31

I’m an Outlier on the Bell-Curve of Happiness

7.20 a.m.  I can finally do my job now.  Finally.  Took me three weeks and three days to get here.  But I am confident I can do this now.  My job description: be positive.

It’s what he hired me for.  It’s how I got the job … so to speak.  The job of being his wife.  Cliff is not the most positive person in the world.  Possibly an understatement.  He earned the name Eeyore from some of his in-laws and is a big enough man that sometimes, when he is being just plain overly-pessimistic about an idea, I can even say, ‘Oh, Eeyore’, delicately and kindly, directly to him and he laughs and either explains why he’s being a pessimist (there’s usually a good reason) or just continues being pessimistic but at least he realizes it then and it lightens him up a bit.

I am the antithesis of a pessimist.  Can’t help it.  Born that way.  Apologies, now, to all who are offended by my existence.  But I try to be subtle with my handicap of happiness and try not to take it to the annoyingly, offensively cheerful level but, rather, try to contain all my happiness into an acceptable, general population level that other people can tolerate.

My cheerfulness is so severe that if I were to behave as enthusiastically and cheerfully as I feel, it would appear unnatural.  I’m way out on the end of the bell curve.  I’m an outlier.  I might even be labeled as clinically or chronically cheerful.  Some of my better friends put it very sweetly and use the politically correct term of being ‘passionate’ about things.  I probably outgrew the ‘cheerful’ term when I turned 20.  Now I’m often referred to as ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘passionate’.  I realize being continuously, ridiculously happy is not normal.  And I realize it will freak people out if I behave as I feel.  Seriously.  I know people say, ‘Be who you are’, but I’m not the only person in this world and I like people, so I like to be around them.  They’re not going to be around me if I’m hedonistically cheerful.  It’s just not normal.  And I’m O.K. with that.

When I was twelve years old, I won the congeniality award at cheer-leading camp.  The most cheerful of the cheerful.  Tragically chipper.

Going to get dressed and pick up Cliff early.  Bit of a surprise that I’m coming early.  Gotta run now.

So excited to see him and bring him home.

7.50 p.m.  Cliff in his tower (top floor, fifth from left) in his new blue pajamas

Exterior Riverview Cliff in Window

8.10 p.m.  Even hospital food can be beautiful, if you let it.

Oranges

There was a big, heavy, round orange sitting on his breakfast tray and he said, ‘How am I supposed to eat that?’  It was soooo unappealing.   I cut it into triangles for him and he downed it.  Felt good to get all that vitamin C in him.

10.22 a.m.  Just got home.   Cliff is laminating his med. Sheet.  He has 13 meds.   Here is the list of them.

List of Medicines

Going from a perfectly fit person, who has never taken medication and never been in hospital (except for being born there), straight to thirteen meds every day is … I don’t know … it’s something.

He describes his condition as ‘woozy, vague and thick in the head’ from all the meds and the chemos but he wants to tidy up a few things before heading upstairs to lie down for the rest of the day.  He is sitting behind me at his computer and hiccupping galore.  They say that’s indigestion and part of the nausea.  He took a Maxalon (anti-nausea drug) just before we left the hospital, and they gave him another very strong anti-nausea drug intravenously last night, which will last for five days, as well as Emend and some other drug that starts with ‘A’.

This is seriously hard.  It’s 10.30 a.m. in the morning and I feel like the day should be over.  I’m ready for a story and bed.

1.37 p.m.  Feels like midnight.  So much to do.  Feed myself.  Take the kids somewhere so they’re not always watching TV or playing on the computer.  Just finished making Cliff two turkey wraps and two big glasses of orange juice plus sandwiches for the kids.  Must get myself some lunch and try to ride the exercise bike for a bit.

Love, Esser

30

A Totally Different Kind of Chemo Day than Before. Monique’s New Handbag and The Great Big Cock.

10.09 a.m.  Chemo day today.  Approaching it as just one of the things we do in our life now.  No big deal.

Hoping we don’t get knocked off our calm horse.  Going to try, with all our might, not to.

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2.23 p.m.  The chemo starts going in.

DonatingOranges Chemo Day Montage

I show cliff this photo and he likes it.  Says the chemo looks like it’s glowing.  Hoping it has magical powers.

4.00 p.m.  Cliff and Jessica navigate and contemplate the landscape from his hospital room window. 

Riverview Hospital Cliff and Jessica Navigate the Landscape

We’re trying to see if we can locate Jessica’s house and our house.  I suggest that next time the children go into our front yard with 50 red balloons and release them into the air while we are looking out the window.  Cliff says, ‘Or just put the balloons on a really long string.’

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5.00 p.m.  Teetah and her lovely quilt lady friends made a Prayer Quilt for Cliff.  It brightens up his hospital bed like you wouldn’t believe.  Every time a new nurse walks in, he or she says, “Wow! What an amazing quilt.’

 Teetah's Prayer Quilt for Cliff

A quilt needs the front and the back to be ‘tied’ together.  Nowadays, people often just use a sewing machine to stitch them together.  But Teetah and her quilting friends put a stitch through the quilt with thread but don’t tie a knot, they leave it loose.  That’s where the “prayer” bit comes in.  Prayer quilts are for people who are sick or need prayers.  So family and friends can say a prayer while they are tying a knot in the quilt strings.  That way, all the knots holding the quilt together represent a prayer that has been said for them.  Lying under a blanket that is covered in prayers for you can’t be bad.

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8.30 p.m.  Monique was heading back down to Orkley Island.  I packed a few snacks for her trip, as you do, but I couldn’t find any little baggies in the patient pantry, so I grabbed a (new and clean) glove out of a box on the way back to the room.  I handed it to her full of cheese, crackers and cookies.  She laughed to find a glove full of snacks.  ‘Something for the road,’ I said.  She looked down at it and said, ‘It’s my handbag.’  Hilarious!  We all had a hearty belly laugh.

Monique’s handbag!

 Monique's handbag w/cheese & crackers inside

Free handbag dispenser

Handbag Dispenser

As the chemo was going in and we were sitting, talking quietly in the hospital room we heard a little voice outside our room yell, ‘COCK!’  That was odd.

We giggled a bit but kept talking.

Two or three minutes later another loud, ‘COCK!’

I went out to make Cliff some Milo (kind of a hot chocolaty drink) in the patients’ pantry and saw the source of the cock call.

 Cock!

This little two-year-old boy was running laps of the ward’s circular hallway, burning off some energy.  Every time he came past our room, where a clock hung from the ceiling, he would yell, ‘Cock! Cock! Mommy! Cock!’

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11.37 p.m.  Wow.  This is bizarre.  For the past two days I have been able to deftly jump, in my head, from, ‘Yes, I know he has mesothelioma and the doctors say he is going to die in six months’ to ‘We are so totally going to beat this thing.  Be positive, don’t worry. If chemo doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean we give up hope. It just means chemo isn’t the answer for this particular disease and we are going to go out there and find the thing that does.’  That’s a new skill.

Sort of seems strange.  Like the first time I did a cartwheel and end up standing on two feet.  Feels good and I feel proud.  A lot better than the ground coming up to slam me in the face like every other time before.

In the past three weeks it has taken me, on average, five days at a time to be able to shift from one kind of thinking to the next. It reduced to three days and then two days and now, it seems,  I can do it within moments.  Though, I confess, if I’m truthful, I may not have been allowing myself to fully enter into the abyss each time.  So, when I say I can jump back and forth between the two, it’s probably more of standing, fully, in the positive thinking side (nearly denial) and just tapping my toes on the hot coals of the prognosis side of the situation.

Maybe I can do it fully.

I don’t know for sure.

When we’ve got some peace and quiet over the next two days and I’m feeling strong and have an ‘out’ plan (like coffee with a friend or something) in case I get stuck in the abyss, I might try it and see if I really do have this new skill or if I’m just kidding myself.

I can live with that.  For now.  Not bad after having just had our second day of chemo.

Love, Esser

29

Chemo. We just do it.

3 boys on the carpet playing

8.30 a.m.  Leo, Grant and Tom play ‘pretend’.  Grant and Tom are pretending to be miners. Leo is the mining boss.  Grant and Tom are pretending to go to work but are actually preparing presents for their pretend boss.  They surprise their boss (Leo) with his presents.

So grateful for the peaceful play the boys are enjoying for a large part of every day.  Am I allowed to be proud that we are handling Cliff’s diagnosis honestly with them, but not burdening them with our sorrow and confusion, so they can continue their childhood in the same way they always have?  ‘The Kids’ are the most important aspect of what we do in our daily lives.  And I’m seeing, in reality, that daily life is all we have, all there is.  ‘The Kids’ seem to be going very, very well.  Man, we love them.

I can’t guarantee we’ll continue to handle what comes in the future well.  But so far.  It’s O.K.

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10. 00 a.m. Went for a run.

I’m going to have to listen to my recording of Brad, the chemo nurse, this afternoon as a reminder for all the things we need to remember about the chemo.  There are a lot of things we have to know about keeping everyone safe from the chemo and I’ve put it all out of my mind since thee weeks ago.

When I have the strength, I’ll talk about the cancer, the cause and those gruesome details.  But I need to build more strength before I can go there without getting stuck down at the bottom.  It’s like the muck at the bottom of the sea I’ve been trying to get out of for the past three weeks.  I’m slowly learning tactics to pull myself, occasionally, to the surface for a breath.  So going back down there to grab some muck and hold it up for you to see and explain to you is dangerous. I might not remember how to pull myself out again.

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12.30 p.m.  I noticed Cliff’s hand resting gently on Leo’s back as they sat peacefully eating their lunch together.

Cliff putting his hand on Leo's Back

2.20 p.m.  Grandma Glo and Papa Moose sent a care package to the boys from America.  It had a fun board game in it.

Gifts from America for the boys

 

3.00 p.m. Two little friends, Erin and Izzy made Cliff brownies.

The girls bake brownies for Cliff

4.10 p.m.  Finished de-cluttering my bedside table.

How the Cupboard looked Before the upgradeHow the Cupboard looks after the upgrade

BEFORE                                    AFTER

In the before photo the poor little clock had no room and constantly fell off.  Now he’s a lucky little Vegemite with acres of real estate!

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6.09 p.m.  Just went upstairs to see how Cliff is.  He is resting in bed, reading and listening to music.

I sat down next to him.  He says, ‘I’m worried that tomorrow everything we’ve worked for will come crashing in again.’  He means the calm state of mind we’ve been striving to achieve since the last chemo.  ‘It’s just easier to maintain that everything will be alright and believe I’m gonna beat this thing when I’m not in a hospital bed getting chemo pumped into my veins.’  His eyes were red and watery and his whole body was frowning.  So, I did the coach thing.  I felt like I was in the final scene of The Bad News Bears film.

I said, ‘It’s not going to come crashing in, because this is what we do now.  This is our life, our routine, this is normal.  This is cool, we do chemo.  We’re gonna beat this thing and this is the beginning of us doing that.  This is different than last time.  We didn’t have the skills or experience last time.  We’re not going to lose ground on the mental strength we’ve worked so hard to claw back over the past three weeks; that’s ours.  No one and nothing can put us back in time or take that away from us.  It can throw new challenges at us, but even those will rock us less. We’re good for tomorrow. It’s gonna be O.K.’

We talked more and he said he was better after the pep talk.  He did seem cheerful, happy and confident and he even helped me look for a belt.  (That’s code for … you know.  Once we were in the walk-in-robe together and Leo walked in on us. We only had a few seconds warning but we managed to quickly sort ourselves out and Cliff said, ‘Just helping your mother look for a belt.’ )
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6.45 p.m.  This is what the world’s greatest salmon dinner looks like.

Salmon Dinner on a Heart Shape Dish

Chase delivered it to our home tonight.  I wish I could capture the aroma with a camera.  The greens had the most amazing flavor and I didn’t know salmon could taste like heaven.  But Chase could make an old boot taste like that.

 Guest Celebrity Chef Chase MacPherson in our kitchen.

Chase cooks us dinner

Love Esser,

28

IKEA loves a crisis.

Nice Clean Lunchboxes

Grateful in a big way for a small thing.  Washed the boys lunch bags in the machine and they came up beautiful.  Thought I was going to have to purchase new ones for the start of the school year (follows the calendar year in Australia). So pleased I don’t have to spend our money on new lunch bags now.  The things I’m excited about, honestly.  But it feels right to get excited about saving money. I’ve never been particularly careful with money.  I like to give it away.  My greatest joy, but also biggest financial weakness, is buying gifts for friends and family.  I care only for happiness, peace and love.  I figured money would sort itself out. But I think caring more about our financial situation is going to be important. It feels like the correct, mature approach.  I’m 42 and still growing up.  Not good that I’m not grown up but not bad that I keep trying.

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Feels like these little clouds are everywhere in my day.

Storm In A Cup

Especially above my steering wheel.  Every time I get in the car, I cry. There is too much quiet there, not enough noise to drown out the fear and sadness.

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10.00 a.m.  I am driving to IKEA with Tom and I am thinking about problems I might face with the boys in their teenage years if Cliff is not here.  Before, during and after my off-ramp, I contemplated that, until Tom says, ‘Mum, it’s the city! Look, I can see the big buildings!  Are we supposed to be in the city?’  Oh my goodness!  Next off-ramp I turn around and drive back to IKEA.  I get out and reach for my handbag (purse).  It’s not there!  I’ve left it at home.

Wow. We have to go back.

Not productive, this ‘thinking forward’ business. Another good reason to pull myself into the current moment and stop thinking about the future. I will practice it harder.

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10.15 p.m. Hook Happy.  Ikea must love a crisis.  Since Cliff was diagnosed, I’ve had this odd, compelling feeling that I must get the house organized.  It needs to be an oasis of peace and calm.  I doubt if I’m alone there.  When your life is spinning out of control, you need to grab firmly onto something and control it.  I’ve never been compelled to be neat before and, sadly, I don’t think I am now.  But it’s just this urge I have for the simple things to be easier.

We can’t fight this battle with clear, calm heads if we spend five minutes looking for underwear in the morning, ten minutes finding the receipt to return the freezer I just bought (to store the wonderful food that is arriving) in exchange for a bigger one.  Piles of clothes and paper lying around steal my energy.  Every time I look at them I think, ick, I need to do something about that and, before I know it, everywhere I look in our house, there is a job that needs doing.  So I am organizing the jobs away from my face.  If everything has a place, in theory, it should be easy to find and easy to put away.

It’s not exactly an overwhelming feeling, this tidiness compulsion, it’s more of an underlying urge that is always there and when I have some time I let it take over and I organize something, a cupboard, some shelves, a room, some drawers.

For the past ten days it has been hooks.  It seems, suddenly, that the solution for everything is … a hook!

A shower cap hook

Shower cap Hook

A hand and face towel hook for each boy.

Hand towel hook

Hooks for everything. I’ve gone hook mad.

Hooks for things that one day may need a hook

And hooks for things that don’t even need hooks, in case one day they need a hook.  The hook is ready.

And I bought a new bedside table.  I’ve got a tall pile of chaos balancing on my current bedside table (night stand).  I found my old bedside table on the side of the road 11 years ago, I painted black in an effort to try and make it less roadside-trash-ish and it’s done the job until now.  Becuase I’m thinking; If I’m not worried about everything toppling off my bedside table when I reach for my clock, that’s got to help make me feel more calm, right?

I don’t know why, but something inside me thinks it will.

New Night stand

Tomorrow I will organize my old bedside table into this new one.

Love, Esser

27

Can I plan *and* be present at the same time?

Hannah Anderson dropped off a dozen little cheerful cupcakes. xoxo

Cupcakes Hannah made.

10.45a.m.  Our friends lighten the load.

I’m sure everyone has their own issues.   Their own stresses, their own health problems, emotional problems, money problems, work problems, family problems, or something and yet, here they all are.  Helping us.  Trying to do anything they can to make our load lighter.

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2.22 p.m.  The concept of living in the moment is vexing me.

I’m trying to figure out how I can make this work.  How I need to be to live in the moment.  Do I need to change who I am?

Does it mean I have to sit quietly and listen hard to the world all the time?  Experience nothing in order to experience everything?

All my life (except for the six months after my big brother, Mitch, was killed in a car crash eight years ago, and my whole life froze while I watched the trees grow in the backyard because that’s all I dared to do for fear of the world hurting me again, except for then…) I have been riding a wild, free horse.

A stallion of joy, enthusiasm, ambition, commitment to family, work, play, health and life.  Do I need to learn how to ride the wild horse around in a pen?  In a stable yard?  It feels like that is what is being asked of me.  I need to stop being my wild, joyful self.  I need to be solemn, silent and serious.  Stop thinking about the future.  Stop planning big.

Surely I’m missing the point.  Surely I’m not expected to sit, crossed-legged with my eyes closed in the mud in the middle of a stable yard, while my wild horse bucks and kicks at the fence, trying to break free to gallop wildly through the hills and the wood?

I love the scars on my cheeks from branches slapping and cutting into my face as I race bareback through the forest.  I love my hair full of dust and dirt from hours of riding in the wild.  The grime on my hands that smears onto my face when I wipe away the sweat.  Does that all go?

It can’t be.

That denies my truth, my purpose, my god.  I am connected to ‘god’ (nature, universe — whatever you want to call it ) when I am there, in the wild, being wild.  To restrain that can’t be the answer.

So what is it?

Perhaps … I am meant to find a way to sit, content, on my wild horse.  In other words; Rein in my mind, but not my life.  Continue my adventurous life, but instead of always thinking about the imaginary castle I am riding to think about the ride.

But, my logic asks, ‘How do I guide my horse?’  How do I choose a path when I am only living in the moment?  How do I see, in my head, the fork in the road and lean, ever so slightly, to the left just before we get there so my beast knows which way to go?

How do I marry the now and the imaginary future?  How can I achieve a goal if I don’t visualize it first?  Do I let go of all my goals?  Maybe I can give up the goals I have… but what of the goals I have for our children?  I’m not only talking about goals for their future education and care but also simple goals.  Goals like getting them to school each day clean, clothed, rested, fed, calmed and loved, all the while training them to do those things for themselves.  That takes monumental force and focus every single time I do it.  If I don’t have part of my head in the future, how can I achieve that?

Every now and then I think, ‘Hey, yeah, it’s easy for those monks who sit in their robes on their cool monastery floors without children to feed and a husband to care for 24/7.’  But I know it’s an excuse, to get me off the hook from being in the moment.

We have evolved to live in the future.  It’s absolutely exhausting living in the now.  Noticing everything.  Appreciating everything.  And if you live in the world I do, full of family, community, friends, work … everything constantly makes you think about the future.  Planning for the future is a very big part of what makes a good parent, right?

A child’s road doesn’t just appear.  It is built by a parent.  The child chooses how to travel down it (or not).  They might skip, dance and sing, go loudly down their road with friends, go quietly down their road alone or redesign their road; it’s their choice, but a parent has to first make a road for them.  So how do I build a road into their future without going there, in my mind, to plan and build it for them?

There is no denying that I constantly have to think about the future: plan meals, plan baths, plan doctors appointments, plan washing, plan cleaning … all for a better future. But what do you do if you are told your future stops in six months?  How do I plan for the future when I can’t see one?

I have to do both.  I have to plan for the future and I have to be present.   My challenge will be knowing when to do which one of these.

My plan now is to clean the kitchen and put away the pile of clothes that is sitting on the stairs.  I will do it while thinking about being ‘in’.  In this body.  In this moment.

Love, Esser

26

The future is not mine. It is not promised to me. And because I believed it was, it hurts like a mother!*#ker when it’s ripped away.

One might be lulled into thinking we have reached a plateau.  It doesn’t appear to be quite so colossally catastrophic every moment of every day. But in my mind, what’s happening to us is similar to this photo, but blacker, wider and with no end of the waves in sight.

dwarfed by a colossal waves

This is where we are:

A stormy, black, shark-infested sea with 50-foot swells, a howling gale, biting rain and bitter cold.  Whales and waves threaten to capsize us at any moment.

Cliff and I had been lounging on the deck of the boat we built together.  Previously, we had navigated our vessel through the normal, sometimes tough, waters of the world in search of our quiet, warm-water bay off the coast of a beautiful land, where we finally dropped our anchor.   The kids played around the boat; in and out of the water.

Then unexpectedly, inexplicably, the sun disappeared. We grabbed the kids, pulling them into the boat.  Night came in 20 seconds.  Our anchor broke and within minutes we were hurled into the center of a vast, unfriendly sea.  We only had time to secure the kids in the hull — their warmly lit, cozy and familiar home with their toys and each other.  But Cliff and I spent the first week on deck, trying to navigate.  We were alternately slammed against the mast and the rails, as our boat dropped off the edge of waves, shuddering on an unforgiving sea that threatened to shatter our vessel.  Thank God we built it strong.

And have I mentioned the noise?  Like nothing I’ve ever heard.  It’s so loud and bad, you can almost see the noise.  It’s deafening.

Finally, in the second week, we managed to put our belts around our waists and secure a single chain from each of our belts to the deck.  It didn’t stop us from being cut and bruised by the giant shift in balance of our boat, but we had progressed.  And we know that when our second chain is secured from our belts to the deck, we will still be in the shifting, sickening, scary night, but we aren’t going to be thrown overboard.  I think, maybe, yesterday we secured our second chain.  Our situation hasn’t changed but we may be feeling a bit more balanced.  Hard to know what the sea will throw up next.  Bravery, strength, love and discipline will prepare us for what comes.  We focus on committing to those things.

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8.06  p.m.  Sat with Chase this afternoon for about two hours while the children swam in my in-law’s pool.  I heard myself saying some things to Chase that I didn’t like … I didn’t like at all.  They were all related to pouting about the future.  Things our family couldn’t do or couldn’t have.  To use the kids’ words when one of their brothers is having a big pout; I was being a ‘sooky-dooky-lala’.  A big, fat baby.  Suck it up.  Have a look around sister.  I don’t need to look far.  My alcoholic neighbor has six children, four grandchildren from three of her teenage children, no income and a mentally ill husband who only comes home to abuse her.

Wake up to yourself princess.

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This.

Here.

Now.

 

This moment is O.K.  Be here, now.

 

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Kim Jones delivers sandwiches in our cooler (esky).

sandwich platter Our friends rescue us with food.

Love, Esser

26

24

At Least Our ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ does not haunt the children.

What’s going on in my mind does not match the real world.  The world thinks it’s Christmas Eve.  So, we make it Christmas Eve for the children.

It always shocks and surprises me when someone asks what we’re doing for Christmas.  Because it feels nothing like Christmas.  I always want to say, ‘Oh, is Christmas coming?’  I hadn’t noticed.

Somehow I am able, and Cliff is, too, to completely compartmentalize the two separate realities.  Our ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ does not poison the sugarplums dancing in the children’s heads.  That is a miracle and a blessing.

That we can give them a Christmas like any other is a gift we are grateful for beyond measure.

Because, while we are living in the horror, knowing that they are not gives us joy, hope, pride and a sense of accomplishment when we feel helpless about everything else.

Reindeer cupcake for Santa

Gorgeous Chase brings us a tray of her home-made reindeer cupcakes.  The kids eat some and put one out for Santa.

Love, Esser

22

‘Will’-ing some humor into my day.

Angel of Hope from Kelly and Ward O’Donnell

Angel of Hope

9.31 a.m.  Today we had a visit from Alex and Celine Jacobs and their son, Troy.

They offered to take our three boys back to their house to play with their chickens and watch a film, which our boys love doing.  So our house was quiet in the afternoon.  I worked on my will.  The will lawyer, David, emailed us a draft of the will based on our very simple, existing wills.  Now I am going through and checking what he wrote and to make a final draft.  I am almost done.

I came to the part of my will that talks about donating organs.  I’ve always thought I wouldn’t have much use for my organs when I’m dead, so why not help someone else with them.  When I was typing my wishes I accidentally wrote, ‘I will donate any oranges …’

Oranges?!!! 

I couldn’t stop laughing!  I meant to say, ‘organs’, ‘I will donate any organs.’  That typo tooootally cracked me up.

laughing icon

Oranges.

 

 

Then I got to thinking …

How funny would it be if I left that in my will?  There’s the bereaved, gathered in the lawyer’s office for the reading of the will. ‘Sarah Jane Washington has left all her oranges to be donated to those in need.’  The puzzled looks. ‘Oranges?  What the …?’  They’d roll their eyes and say, ‘You mean marbles.  She’s donating all her marbles!  Man, she was losing those at the end, wasn’t she?’

I did leave it in my will.  A bit of humour isn’t going to hurt anyone.  It’s going to help.

Now it actually reads:

I will gladly donate any oranges…

…just kidding.  I accidentally wrote ‘oranges’ and thought I should leave it in because, by now (since we’re at the end of my will), you could probably use a little bit of light, comic relief.  What I meant to say, of course, was I will gladly donate any organs.  Which is true.  However, I do not want my body donated to science, thank you kindly anyway.  I have a few medical friends who have discouraged me from doing this, as they have shared their extremely amusing stories about what they did to the cadavers they were given in medical school.  (Let your imagination go wild and you’ve still got a way to go.)  Even though I’ve always wanted to be in films I don’t think my dead body needs to feature in anyone’s comedic medical school youtube clip.  I think I will give that exciting opportunity a miss.  Having said that, if someone needs my eyes, which aren’t really all that great, or my heart which is big but broken, or any of my other bits for spare parts, I’d be honored to fill the gap.

May give someone a laugh.  Or at least lighten the mood a bit.  It did mine.  And, in my day, in the kind of days we’re having, if I can find anything to laugh at, anything at all, I grab on to it with both hands and laugh the hell out of it.  And if there’s still some funny left in it when I’m done, I tuck it away and pull it out for a giggle later.

Which reminds me, I’ve been googling comedians lately.  My humor hunting has uncovered these guys.  I recommend Google ’em:

Russell Peters – current fave

Ross Noble — funny Irish or is he Scottish? I think that’s one of his jokes actually.

Tim Minchin — top-quality entertainment

Ricky Gervais — and some of the idiot abroad series

 

2.00 p.m.  Jim Frazier also stopped by this afternoon with a huge basket of fruit.  His wife has been battling breast cancer.  Hard.

Then Chase and Guy, Emma and Sophia came over to bring us Christmas presents and cards and chocolate.  I got a cloud broach and a beautiful, delicate little silver Christmas tree.  The boys will wait and open theirs on Christmas.  Emma and Sophia left love notes all over the house for the boys to find when they got home because they were still at the Jacobs’ house.

Around six o’clock the boys came home.  We ate an incredible meal of bangers and mash prepared by Bridgette Curnow.  The kids played for an extra while after dinner on the trampoline with the sprinkler on underneath and the slide with the hose water running down it.  So hot today.

Tonight, a normal night of stories and bed.

Night now.

Love, Esser

21

My, what a lovely big table you have … all the better to lose it on.

‘Grateful for …’ photo today is of Cliff and I sitting on the edge of the basketball court, watching Grant play with his mates until the school music goes.  After we ride our bikes to school as a family, we enjoy watching him shoot some hoops.

It’s such a peaceful way to start a day.

C & E watching The G on B ball court.

 

Woke up feeling pretty good.  Took the kids to school.  Came home.  Had a shower.  Got dressed.  Put on a simple, black dress and boots (coolish weather today).  Went via school to pick up a class list and ran into Melissa Ross, who is a newish friend of mine. She was flying out to America today on her way to Vegas and then back to her childhood home with her niece.  Like me, Melissa is American, but unlike me, I can’t call her a Yankee; I should just call her Scarlett.  With that drawl of hers, I’m certain she could whip up a gorgeous gown from a set of curtains in an afternoon.

We had a super great chat, just standing there by the school front office.  She then sent me a text later in the day inviting me for coffee, which I couldn’t do the next day, but look forward to doing in the new year.  That made me happy to think we would both like to be friends. It’s optimistic and cheerful to make new friends or become better friends with someone I know only a little.

I went straight from there into the city for a meeting with Cliff and Douglas (Cliff’s younger brother) at the lawyer’s office.

12.15 p.m.  Meeting with David Dawson Junior of the Dawson & Darmon Law firm.  It’s a small miracle I didn’t walk straight into the conference room, plant both my hands firmly on his table and vomit out every horrible thing I’m trying to hold inside myself.

That’s what I kept imagining, throughout the whole meeting, was going to happen.   At any second, my body would reject all this horribleness out onto the beautifully polished vastness in front of us.

Cliff, Douglas, David and I discussed my will and Cliff’s will.

Half of me tried to focus hard to understand the legalese and the other half tried to hold my guts and tears inside.  I spared them the guts, but the tears wouldn’t be dammed.

David talked about all the scenarios:

If Cliff dies, what happens.

If I die, what happens.

If Cliff and I both die, what happens.

And then the Armageddon possibility: both Cliff and I and all our children die; for example, in a plane crash.

Cliff handled the whole thing beautifully.  I asked him how he could be so unaffected about the decisions, the talk about his death, the horrific nightmare scenarios and strange, impossible futures, that now feel frighteningly possible.  He says he could go through the motions in the meeting because it’s ‘just the responsible thing everyone should do’.  (By-the-way, while you’re reading this, pause for a minute, open your electronic calendar and enter in a date next month, which will be your insurance/will day.  Then hit ‘repeat’ and set it for ‘every four years’.  That’s the advice we got from David in the meeting.  Everyone should review their will and life insurance every four years.  People’s lives change – birth, divorce, death, moving, etc. – and for your will to accurately reflect your wishes/stay relevant, it’s a good idea to check it and revise it, if needed, every four years.  There ya go, free advice your relatives can thank me for.)   It’s just peace of mind and good practice for big people.

Anyway, Cliff says he will not die from this cancer, so there is nothing to be upset about.  The scenarios discussed today are only hypothetical.

Because all the doctors tell us so and because of our constant hours spent inside the hospital, Cliff’s death feels real.  Imminent even.  My emotions were being scraped raw in that meeting the entire time we discussed what we will do, how our lives will run financially ‘when’ Cliff dies. How nice it would have been to be oblivious, like Cliff, to the horror discussed around that meeting table.  Denial is a gift.  I support him in his gift but I don’t have the luxury of it.

3.40 p.m.  Anne Kidd came up to me after school and said she was ‘so sorry’.  I burst into tears.  She said if there was anything she could do, to ask her.  She said it was sincere and she wanted to help with the kids.  She said, ‘I know the little two don’t know me, but I will do anything for you, and I’m sure they’ll be O.K., because they’ll be with Grant.’  Anne’s son, Ryan, is one of Grant’s good friends and basketball-playing buddies at school.

Usually I’m stronger than that.  That was the messiest school pick-up yet.

Cried when Felicity talked to me, too.  Poo.  Crying is tiring.  Tired now.

5.26 p.m.  This is not O.K.  This is not cool.  This is NOT O.K.

Universe, in case you’re listening.  This is not O.K. with me.  This is not O.K.  You cannot be doing this.  STOP IT.  Go pick on someone your own size.

Fuck off!

Not O.K.

 

 

Not.

 

7.26 p.m. While I am trying to put the kids to bed, instead of brushing their teeth, Leo makes a forest of Pick-Up-Sticks under the doona (quilt/duvet).

Boys exploring their pick-up-stick forest

We all take turns looking at it with a torch (flashlight).

   It’s so cool.

Pick-up_stick forest

With a couple of Lego people the boys make their little people have big adventures in the Pick-Up-Stick forest.  Ten minutes later to bed isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Love, Esser